Don’t hold out for an OLED iPad Pro in 2021


2020 iPad Pro with Apple Pencil
Apple tipsters are butting heads over whether there’ll be an iPad Pro with an OLED screen in 2021.
Photo: Apple

Apple reportedly isn’t prepping a iPad Pro with an OLED display in 2021. This counters a report from several weeks ago that said an iPadOS tablet with the advanced screen is in development.

All iPads use traditional LEDs, but that might change in the coming year. What the new type of display will be is still up in the air, though.

Battling iPad display rumors

In November, trusted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of TF International Securities predicted an iPad with a mini-LED screen in the first half of 2021.

But then later that month, The Elec said an iPad Pro with an OLED display will be out in the second half of 2021.

And now analysts from Barclays dispute that second prediction. In a research note seen by MacRumors, the analysts say their contacts in Apple’s component supply chain indicate that no iPad with an OLED screen is to be expected before 2022.

It was always unlikely that both Kuo and The Elec were correct. Apple tablets aren’t replaced until they’ve been on the market for at least a year. With the iPad Pro line, it’s more often 18 months. That casts doubt on the idea that it would introduce an iPad Pro with a mini-LED screen only to supplant it six months later with a model built around an OLED display.

While Kuo could have been talking about an iPad Air, a new version of that tablet launched in October. It’s not likely to get a hardware upgrade until next autumn at the earliest.

mini-LED vs. OLED

Current iPads have traditional LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) screens. These don’t glow, so they need LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) providing a backlight.

A better option is OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes), as each pixel does glow, removing the need for a backlight. This type of screen is used in iPhones. But OLEDs cost more than LCDs with LEDs. So far, that’s kept Apple from using them.

mini-LED is a compromise. This type of screen has thousands of small LEDs providing the backlight, far more than with a standard LCD. That gives the computer much greater control over backlighting, so some on-screen objects can be brightly lit but others left dim.


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