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Rumored iPad OLED a little more real as Samsung Display reprioritizes screens
The move could be to focus on Apple’s need, but the economy may be the broader reason
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: A tale of two panels
🛑 Samsung pulls back on new OLED tech, focuses on iPad panel instead
👍 Apple OLED iPads may be coming in 2024
🔆 iPad would use two OLED layers for brighter, longer-lasting screens
📉 Samsung’s slowed investment maybe due to weak consumer tech demand
Even the best iPad still uses an LCD panel – likely to Apple’s consternation – but that won’t hopefully be the case much longer.
Samsung Display may be pulling back on investments in new OLED panel tech in order to focus on Apple OLED iPads, which may be coming in 2024, according to 9to5Mac’s analysis of supply chain information published by The Elec.
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OLED iPads have been expected for some time, but Apple is picky about its display panels – it reportedly canceled a previous Samsung iPad display order over quality concerns – and won’t use the same screen in the tablet as the iPhone. The latter is due to warping as a byproduct of the manufacturing process that makes those screens. Though you can’t see them on iPhones, the small wrinkles become visible when you scale up to iPad or MacBook screen sizes.
For years now, Samsung has been Apple’s primary display supplier, and per 9to5Mac’s report, it has asked Samsung to make “two-stack tandem OLED” screens, a technology that stacks two OLED pixel layers together to increase the brightness of the screen without shortening the life of the screen.
At first blush, it sounds like the Dual Cell tech from the Hisense U9DG TV I reviewed for Gizmodo in 2021, which also uses two display panels, but the similarities end there. Hisense’s so-called dual cell panels are made up of one full-color 4K panel, with a lower-res 1080p black and white layer behind it to attenuate the light pushing through enough that it can approach OLED black levels.
Samsung delaying plans for new display panel tech
Samsung Display had been working with Japanese company Ulvac on a new OLED panel that would achieve similar results with a rigid single layer, but reportedly, following Apple’s order, pulled back its investment in the new tech and is now focusing on the two-stack method.
The change in direction may not be strictly related to Apple’s request, however. In a time when many tech companies are laying off staff and consumer behavior is muted, Samsung may simply be consolidating its investments to focus on what works, which companies often do during downturns.
In the case of this new tech, new machinery would’ve needed to be designed and produced to manufacture the giant sheets that the display panels are cut from (these sheets and the cuts made from them are the reason every company using a given panel technology in its TVs offers the same sizes). That’s an investment Samsung Display may not be willing to make right now.
The two-stack OLED panel, on the other hand, can be produced using existing manufacturing equipment, making it a safer investment at the moment. As The Elec notes in its report, though, the move amounts to a postponement, meaning we could still see the new display technology down the line as Samsung Display judges the investment to be more feasible.