Almost all high-end Android tablets feature an OLED display these days, but not Apple, as even their iPad Pro models come with mini-LED displays. It’s not that mini-LED displays are inherently inferior to OLED panels in terms of quality, but that the latter has some significant cost advantages. The manufacturing cost of a mini-LED panel is significantly higher than competing OLED panels.
So why haven’t we seen an OLED iPad yet? Well, because flexible OLED panels tend to look crumpled along the edges in displays larger than 10-inches. The recent iPhones also use flexible OLED panels, but due to their smaller size the crumpling effect is not really noticeable here.
The crumples are likely caused by how flexible OLED panels are made. During their production, glass substrates. Polyimide varnishes in liquid form are deposited on top of the substrate and the glass is later removed through lasers. The remaining solidified polyimide is the plastic substrate. During the laser removable, some parts of the polyimide may be warped from the heat.
– The Elec
For this reason, Apple is keen to adopt hybrid OLED screens for future iPads. These are some sort of a middle ground between the existing rigid OLEDs and flexible OLEDs. However, according to TheElec, the technology is still in development and will at least take a year from now to mature. Which likely means we won’t be seeing an OLED panel on an iPad until 2024.
Compared with rigid OLED, hybrid OLED is thinner and lighter, which is good for IT brands. Hybrid OLED is also said to be cheaper than flexible OLED because steps such as polyimide (PI) coating and laser lift-off (LLO) are skipped when making hybrid OLEDs.
A recent Digitimes report also further confirms TheElec’s initial story. According to Digitimes, Apple has added Taiwan SMT as a new supplier for the upcoming iPad’s hybrid OLED screen.