[News] Can Mini LED Overcome Challenges Post-Apple’s Shift? Explore Its Prospects Beyond Apple’s Favor

2023-12-07 LED editor

In the past few years, the rapid growth of the Mini LED backlight market has been closely tied to the support from consumer electronics giant Apple. Apple pioneered the integration of Mini LED backlight technology into tablet products, sparking increased demand for Mini LED technology in the consumer market. However, it seems that Apple is now steering away from the Mini LED backlight technology path.

Recently, well-known Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a 2024 forecast report for the new iPad models. The upcoming iPad Pro is expected to replace the current Mini LED backlight panel with an OLED panel.

Additionally, the 12.9-inch version of the iPad Air model will feature an Oxide backplane, similar to the one used in Mini LED backlight panels, to enhance display performance.

From Apple’s strategic shift in abandoning Mini LED in favor of OLED for iPad Pro, it appears that the primary consideration is cost.

While the manufacturing process for Mini LED has matured in recent years, resulting in continuous cost reductions, the current cost of Mini LED remains higher compared to the more established and mature OLED technology.

In contrast, OLED’s cost performance is noteworthy. According to observations from TrendForce, OLED manufacturers have committed to investing in 8.5th generation OLED for laptops and tablets this year, indicating a potential further decrease in OLED costs.

Furthermore, OLED offers features such as slim design, low power consumption, quick response, high clarity, and flexibility, similar to Mini LED backlight technology.

This not only enhances the display performance of iPad Pro but also optimizes aspects like thickness, weight, and energy consumption, aligning with the characteristics of portable tablet products.

Apple’s Planned Shift from Mini LED to OLED

Looking back at the development of Mini LED in recent years, Apple’s utilization of this technology has not been extensive, and it has typically been reserved for Apple’s most high-end products, such as the 2019 Pro Display XDR. Subsequent releases, including the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro, also adopted the same technology.

While Apple successfully integrated Mini LED backlight technology into the highest-end versions of displays, tablets, and laptops, some releases and production of Apple’s Mini LED backlight products were delayed during this period. This includes rumored products like the iMac Pro featuring Mini LED backlight screens and the second generation of the 27-inch display Apple Studio Display.

While Apple has been incorporating Mini LED backlight technology into high-end products, the company is also exploring the expansion of OLED technology beyond iPhones to include more devices.

Last year, it was reported that BOE is constructing an 8.6th generation OLED display production line to fulfill orders for Apple’s future iPad and MacBook models featuring OLED screens, expected to be operational by the end of 2024.

As for the upcoming iPad Pro tablet set to be launched as early as next year, there are indications that Samsung and LG will provide dual-layer OLED panels. This promises a doubling of screen brightness, an extended lifespan, and lower power consumption compared to Mini LED backlight technology.

Mini LED Backlight Demand Continues to Grow

TrendForce analysis indicates that, influenced by the Apple brand effect, Mini LED backlight has officially entered the application markets of laptops and tablets. However, due to high costs, Apple has notably slowed down the pace of introducing Mini LED backlight to laptops and tablets.

While the change in Apple’s display technology roadmap has had a certain impact on the Mini LED backlight market, especially in tablets and laptops where Apple holds a larger share, TrendForce’s report points out that the applications of Mini LED in TVs, displays, and automotive displays are still on a growth path.

It is worth noting that the main applications in TVs and displays continue to show a growth trend, while future potential applications like automotive displays provide more possibilities for the growth of the Mini LED backlight market.

With ongoing optimization of technology and costs, the overall Mini LED backlight market is expected to maintain a growth trend.

According to data from TrendForce’s report “2024 New Mini LED BLU Display Trend Analysis“, after a brief decline in shipments in 2023, applications with Mini LED backlight technology are expected to return to growth in 2024, with an estimated shipment volume of 13.79 million units.

With the trend of Mini LED terminal products becoming more affordable, the shipment volume is expected to continue growing, reaching an estimated 31.45 million units by 2027, with a CAGR of approximately 23.9% from 2023 to 2027.

(Photo credit: Apple)