Top Apple analyst TF International Securities' Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note on Sunday that Apple will launch iPads and MacBooks that use new mini LED screen technology during the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first half of 2021 "at the earliest."
The move will help Apple cut its reliance on Samsung "given only Samsung is capable of the mid-size OLED display mass production," Kuo said.
Mini LED displays offer some of the benefits of OLED, such as higher contrast, that users don't get in LCD screens. They're also not as prone to "burn-in," according to Kuo. Burn-in can happen when an image is left motionless on a screen, causing a permanent reflection of that image. This is particularly a concern in "productivity applications," Kuo said, where someone might leave an app open for a long time without any movement on the screen. The new displays would prevent burn-in in those instances.
Apple currently uses OLED in its high-end iPhone 11 Pro phones but uses LCD displays on its iPhone 11, MacBooks and iPads. Kuo said Apple may turn to mini LED to meet thinner form factor requirements and that Apple will only use it in its "most high-end products."
"Many competitors will likely follow Apple's steps, and it's expected that the mini LED display will be the general spec for the most high-end mid-size productivity devices in the future," Kuo said, noting that "some investors worry that Apple may adopt the mid-size OLED display to replace the mini LED display" but that mini LED screens will be Apple's "first choice."
"The main beneficiaries of Apple's mini LED display include Avary/ZDT (mini LED backlight PCB), Epistar (LED), Nichia (LED), Radiant (mini LED backlight), TSMT (mini LED backlight), and LG Display (mini LED display)," Kuo said in the note.