Apple is developing completely new OLED screen technology

iPads – and tablets in general – are great formats for consuming entertainment or increasing productivity in many business situations. Because of their characteristics, tablets, especially iPads, owe much of their success to the quality of their screen.

However, since the arrival of the first smartphones with OLED screen, the tablets remain in an overwhelming majority of cases equipped with an IPS LCD screen. The latest iPad Pros introduced a new screen technology called mini-LED. Concretely, it is still, at its heart, IPS LCD technology.

Why Apple can’t integrate OLED screens into its iPads just yet

But with two more additions: first, Apple has embedded quantum well filters on the pixels, making them de facto QLED screens. Then the backlight is composed of a particularly tight matrix of blue LEDs, which allows a local dimming extremely precise and a rendering of the image with both better colorimetry than on OLED and contrasts close to what an OLED screen would allow.

Still, one can wonder why Apple is still reluctant to integrate OLED screens on at least the most premium part of its iPad range. According to our colleagues from 9to5Mac, however, there is a very simple explanation: past a certain size, flexible OLED screens with a definition suitable for iPads tend to “crease”. The problem is particularly visible beyond a 10″ diagonal.

Apple would nevertheless like to adopt a better technology than the very complex mini-LED screens to manufacture. This is why the firm has asked suppliers to manufacture a new type of hybrid OLED screen, which combines the advantages of rigid OLED screens and those of flexible OLED screens. According to The Elec, quoted by 9to5mac:

“A hybrid OLED panel sits on a glass substrate like rigid OLED displays, while using the same film encapsulation technique of flexible technology. According to our sources, Apple is not very keen on flexible OLED displays – which are widely used in premium smartphones – because some areas of the screen are likely to appear ‘wrinkled’”.

Indeed, the production of flexible OLED screens begins with the deposition of several compounds on a glass plate. Later, the polymers are separated from the glass plate by lasers. Below a certain size, this method does not pose any particular problem. But beyond 10″ the heat of the lasers causes deformations on the substrate – which leads to screens with an uneven rendering.

So-called flexible OLED screens are not only used for their flexibility. They are indeed particularly thin and energy efficient which makes them perfect for smartphones. They also deliver advanced features like Always On and 1-120 Hz adaptive refresh rate.

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