Upcoming 27-inch Apple iMac’s Screen Becomes A Question Mark in Confusing Will-They-Won’t-They Fiasco

Apple has been slowly making the shift to mini-LED from traditional LED in a bunch of its devices. This transition isn’t experimental or temporary, instead it’s part of Apple’s larger efforts to completely switch over to mini-LED screens on all of their devices, wherever possible. Going forward, future iPhones may even be equipped with mini-LED instead of OLED because of certain benefits the screen tech has over OLED. For right now, the Mac lineup is Apple’s primary mini-LED concern.

The 2021 models of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros use a mini-LED display. Same’s the case with the 2021 M1 iPad Pro. Apple released a 24-inch iMac earlier this year with the M1 chip but that featured a standard LCD display, the one that Apple calls “Liquid Retina“. Sooner or later down the line, Apple was supposed to launch a 27-inch version of the M1 iMac and it seems like that time is right around the corner, but there’s an unexpected wave of confusion that comes with this confirmation.

The old report

DigiTimes reported yesterday that the 27-inch 2021 iMac has gone into mass production as suppliers are beginning to ready shipments for the product’s 2022 launch. However, DigiTime’s report states that the iMac will not come with a mini-LED display. Every other leak and report surrounding this iMac has pointed towards a mini-LED display but out of nowhere, DigiTime is now reporting that’s not the case.

For those unaware, Mini-LED is very similar to standard LCD displays, only that it features smaller diodes that are more efficient and produce better colors due to the increased amount you can fit in the same surface area. In simpler words, mini-LED has a similar backlight to standard LCD, just that it has much, much smaller LEDs that can make recreate colors more accurately.

Mini-LED LCD layout | TCL

Reliable display analyst Ross Young has gone on record to say that the 2022 iMac will, in fact, feature a mini-LED display with 120Hz Pro Motion capability. Ross stated this in October and one other source backed them up on this, and yesterday’s DigiTimes report also reaffirmed that the 27-inch iMac will boast a mini-LED screen. So, everything was pretty straightforward up until today.

The new report

Today, DigiTimes came out with a new report, or at least that seems like the case, it very well could just be an updated version of the report released yesterday confirming the iMac’s volume production, as yesterday’s report is no longer up on their website. Regardless, this new report, just a day apart, states the exact opposite of the previous DigiTimes report and contradicts every single other leak regarding the iMac’s mini-LED display that has been floating in the industry for a few months now.

Suppliers have kicked off their shipments in small volume for the new 27-inch iMac set for launch in 2022, but the device will not come with a miniLED display as previously speculated, according to industry sources.

If this wasn’t confusing enough, the second paragraph of this report says that the 27-inch iMac will use traditional LCD displays. As mentioned above, mini-LED is essentially just a traditional LCD with a modified backlight that features many more LEDs. So, it’s unclear whether this is simply a normal LCD, a mini-LED LCD or some sort of weird middle-child amalgamation.

The sources pointed out that speculation about the next-generation 27-inch iMac coming with a miniLED display has been circulating in the market ever since the 24-inch iMac received a major upgrade in the CPU platform earlier this year, but the shipments of the 27-inch device in December showed that it is still equipped with a traditional LCD display.

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Although the 27-inch iMac does not feature miniLED technology, LED chips used in its display are up 30-40% from the previous models.

The Pro Display XDR, Apple’s highest-end studio display features traditional LCD with a modified backlight that does feature more LEDs in the backlight than standard LCD. Still, though, there’s not enough LEDs to qualify it for the mini-LED standard. If the last sentence in the quote above is indeed true then maybe we’re looking at a situation like that where the LCD is technically traditional, but still a major upgrade over the standard backlighting in LCDs.

Even More Confusion

Now, if all of that wasn’t confusing enough, DigiTimes came forward and said that yesterday’s report, the one that said the iMac would feature mini-LED was incorrect and that they had made an error. Display analyst Ross Young tweeted their reaction to today’s report only saying “surprising” then followed that up by saying that Apple is still using mini-LED for 27-inch iMac when asked about DigiTime’s correction.

So, if you got lost in all that somewhere, here’s the breakdown. Everyone and their mothers said the new 27-inch iMac would have a mini-LED display. DigiTimes issued a report yesterday stating that volume shipments of the iMac have started coming in, and reiterated in the report that the iMac will have a mini-LED display. Today, they released a new report (that is likely just the detailed version of yesterday’s report) in which they contradicted themselves and said the new iMac won’t boast mini-LED displays. In fact, they’ll feature “traditional LCD” but that it will still be 30-40% brighter than previous models.

As it stands right now, perhaps this back-and-forth between mini-LED LCD and standard LCD is because of the certification itself. What actually qualifies for mini-LED? How many LEDs do you need to have in the backlight of your LCD for it to become a proper mini-LED display. Different manufacturers, media outlets, and sources likely see this number differently, hence the confusion. Nevertheless, mini-LED or not, the new Mac’s display will still be a beautiful one when the product launches in Spring 2022.

Huzaifa Haroon
Born and raised around computers, Huzaifa is an avid gamer and a Windows enthusiast. When he's not solving the mysteries of technology, you can find him writing about operating systems, striving to inform the curious.