OLED iPad rumors get credibility boost as LG preps production- 9to5Mac

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OLED iPad rumors have been inconsistent to say the least, with commenters not even able to agree on whether Apple will make the switch, let alone when. But a new supply-chain report says that Apple display supplier LG is engaged in specific preparation for OLED iPad production.

At one time, it was reported that Apple was switching to OLED screens for the iPad Air 5, which is expected to launch at an event in March or April, but we’re now expecting the screen tech to make its iPad debut considerably later …

Background

We’ve previously described Apple’s gradual transition through four types of display tech:

  • IPS LCD with conventional backlighting. This is still used in older Macs and cheaper iPhones.
  • IPS LCD with miniLED backlighting. Apple switched to this for iPad Pro models, and is now using it in the new MacBook Pro. It allows for darker blacks and brighter whites, and makes a surprising difference.
  • OLED. Apple first adopted this in the Apple Watch before bringing it to the iPhone, starting with the iPhone X. Apple has not yet used this in either iPads or MacBooks, but is expected to do so sometime in the 2023-2026 timeframe.
  • MicroLED. Despite the similarity in name to miniLED, this is a completely different technology. It’s effectively a much more sophisticated version of OLED. It’s brighter, more power-efficient, and doesn’t suffer from burn-in. Apple’s interest in microLED dates back to at least 2014, and while there have been some signs of progress, this tech is still at a very early stage of development. As with OLED, it’s likely to come first to the Apple Watch, then iPhone, iPad and Macs, in that order.

At one point, noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple was aiming to launch its first OLED iPads in 2022, but later said that the company had abandoned this plan. Since then, there’s been uncertainty about when the first OLED models would be launched, with both 2023 and 2024 suggested.

OLED iPad production prep

We’ve had supply-chain reports about both LG and Samsung Display making plans to supply OLED panels to Apple for future iPads. Samsung’s role seems less certain, but rival Korean company LG appears to have a more secure position.

The most recent report said that LG was planning to double the production capacity of an OLED plant dedicated to small- and medium-size displays. A new report in The Elec today gets more specific – and credible.

LG Display was currently shifting some of its OLED production equipment at its E5 line at its plant in Gumi, South Korea to its plant in Paju, TheElec has learned.

The company was transferring some of its tensioners __ used in depositing OLED materials on the panel during production __ to its E6-4 line at its P10 plant in Paju, sources said […]

LG Display is likely doing so in preparation for the production OLED panels that Apple plans to use for future iPad models, they said […] The plant already houses E6-1 and E6-2 lines that manufacture OLED panels for iPhones.

That’s significant because the equipment described is extremely delicate, and easily damaged during transportation. Moving it is not the sort of thing you do lightly. That suggests LG has high confidence it will be needed for production at its Apple-focused plant.

Photo: Lucas Benjamin/Unsplash

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