Apple is working on a new kind of screen technology to make bigger iPads and laptops, top analyst says

Key Points
  • Apple is preparing to launch a new computer monitor, iPad and large laptop in the next two years, according to research from TF International Securities.
  • All three of these devices could use versions of "mini LED" technology that improves contrast and color.
  • The external display will have an "all new design" and will "target a very-high end position," according to the note, and could be released as soon as this summer.
Apple CEO Tim Cook stands in front of an MacBook on display after an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.
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Apple could launch several new products in the next few years using a new kind of display technology that enables better color and contrast, according to research from TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

According to Kuo, the new products using the next-generation "mini LED" technology are:

  • A 31.6-inch monitor with an "all new design" launching in the second or third quarter of 2019.
  • A new iPad with a screen size between 10 inches and 12 inches in late 2020 or early 2021.
  • A new MacBook laptop with a screen size between 15 inches and 17 inches in the first half of 2021.

Apple's Mac and accessory sales have become less important to the company as the iPhone drives the majority of revenue, but Apple's most vocal customers and programmers are still dedicated to buying Mac computers because all iPhone software development must take place on a Mac.

Consumer demand for new high-end Macs is strong enough that Apple pre-announced a new pro-level desktop and display in 2017. Many expect Apple to formally unveil the new Mac Pro as soon as this June.

High-end smartphones, which have much smaller screens, typically use OLED displays, which is a different technology. But OLED can have a shorter lifespan and burn-in issues, making mini LED a better technology for bigger products, according to the research.

Mini LED, according to Kuo, could enable Apple to introduce wide color gamut and high-contrast features, which could help differentiate Apple's larger products from competitors.

The external display will have an "all new design" and will "target a very-high end position," according to the note. Apple's annual programmer's conference, WWDC, would be a logical time to launch the new display. WWDC is taking place in San Jose, California, in June. However, the external display is likely to be a low-volume product, according to the research.

Apple most recently updated its high-end iPads in October. The current version uses an LCD display and comes in two sizes: 11 inches and 12.9 inches.

A 17-inch MacBook would be Apple's largest laptop computer. Currently, Apple sells 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro laptops.

Kuo is well known for accurately predicting Apple products before they come out. His research is focused on companies that supply parts to Apple, and he believes companies in the LED supply chain are attractive options for hardware investors, especially if supply gets "tight" in 2020 as Apple buys up components for a mini LED iPad and MacBook.

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