Apple’s Suppliers are Prepping OLED Screens for future iPads and MacBooks

Suggestions of Apple switching to OLED screens for its larger devices have recently resurged.
MacBook AirPods Pro iPad Pro and Apple Pencil Credit: Nasim Dadfar / Michael Jeffery / Unsplash
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Suggestions of Apple switching to OLED screens for its larger devices have resurged as a new report reveals that one of its key suppliers is ramping up a production line for a new generation of OLEDs

While the notion of OLED-equipped iPads and MacBooks has been tossed around for years, they took a backseat when Apple adopted mini-LED for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and higher-end MacBook Pro models.

Still, when the 11-inch iPad Pro didn’t get invited to the mini-LED party, there was speculation that it would go straight to OLED instead. While supply chain problems made that unlikely to happen this year, that doesn’t mean Apple has stopped working on this — it’s just going to take a bit more time.

Many expected that this year’s fifth-generation iPad Air would get the OLED treatment, but sadly that didn’t happen. It may have been in Apple’s plans, but again, the company has been facing more than a few supply chain problems.

After all, these are the same sort of problems that have held back Apple’s Pro iPhone screens for the past two years, so why should the iPad lineup be any different, especially considering it’s a much lower priority for Apple.

Fortunately, news from Korea’s The Elec should at least give us some hope that OLED screens are still on Apple’s roadmap. According to the report, Samsung Display is getting ready to build its first “Gen 8.5 OLED line” with the ability to produce 15,000 displays a month at a size that’s designed with tablets and notebooks in mind.

Sources also say that the line is being built primarily, if not exclusively, for Apple, “which is planning to adopt OLED panels more for its tablets and PC lineups.”

If true, this suggests that we’ll not only see new iPads with OLED but possibly even new MacBooks. These won’t likely supersede the Mini-LED displays used in Apple’s premium iPad Pro and MacBook Pro models; instead, they’ll fill the gap between the budget LCD-equipped devices and those mid-tier entries like the iPad Air.

Despite rumors that last year’s iPad mini was set to go Mini-LED, we have yet to see any Apple products with Mini-LED screens smaller than 12.9 inches. This suggests that Apple could be having trouble building them in smaller sizes. That’s not a problem with OLED, which has been used in the Apple Watch since before it even appeared on the iPhone.

When Is OLED Coming?

At this point, Samsung Display hasn’t even built its production line, much less started cranking out screens, so it’s fair to say that OLED iPads are at least a year or more off — which confirms what we’ve already been hearing.

In fact, Samsung isn’t expected to begin ordering equipment to build the new production line until next year, which means the first OLEDs won’t be rolling off the line until mid-2023.

Samsung Display almost certainly isn’t Apple’s only supplier. However, it’s still likely key to Apple’s plans. The company needs to make sure it can source enough quality displays from everywhere it can before it actually begins putting them into iPads and MacBooks.

Still, since the “iPad Air 6” would likely be among the first to get an OLED screen, that gives Apple plenty of time to make it happen.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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