The Apple Watch has used OLED since its inception and soon every new iPhone model will take advantage of the technology too. But reports suggest Apple is already looking towards the next generation of displays.

There’s more competition in the world of mini-LED

A new research note by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors) claims Apple has recently decided to accelerate its adoption of mini-LED display technology on the iPad and MacBook product lines. The move comes amid increased competition among mini-LED display chip suppliers. Kuo says that Epistar was expected to be the exclusive supplier of mini-LED display chips for Apple next year.

However, rival Sanan Optoelectronics has experienced better and faster than expected development in recent months and has now secured an agreement with Apple to supply the necessary display chips starting in 2021 rather than 2022.

Ming-Chi Kuo believes this development will significantly drive down the cost of mini-LED displays for Apple. The panels were initially expected to cost $75-85 but could now drop down to as little as $45.

Up to 40% of iPads will use mini-LED in 2021

Apple is now expected to use mini-LED technology on roughly 20-30% of MacBook shipments and 30-40% of all iPad shipments in 2021. That’s a massive increase over the original estimates of 10-20% for both sets of products.

Sanan Optoelectronics should account for around 20-30% of all mini-LED orders in 2021 and an impressive 45-55% of shipments in 2022. Epistar will handle the remaining orders unless Apple finds another supplier, in which case they’ll be split.

The Silicon Valley-based company reportedly has plans for at least six mini-LED products to be launched by the end of 2021. Leading the way will be a 12.9-inch iPad Pro which may support 5G along with a 7.9-inch iPad mini and a 10.2-inch budget iPad.

On the Mac front, Apple is working 16-inch and 14.1-inch MacBook Pro models with mini-LED displays and a 27-inch iMac Pro.

Nevertheless, delays are still very much possible. Kuo warns that everything from the trade tensions between the US and China to the COVID-19 pandemic could impact production in some form.

The benefits of mini-LED displays over LCD displays

For those of you that don’t know, mini-LED technology is essentially the next-generation of LCD technology. It offers countless benefits and much better replicates the performance of OLED.

Mini-LED panels use anywhere between 1,000 and 10,000 individual LEDs and offer much higher contrast ratios paired with increased maximum brightness and noticeably better power efficiency.

The displays are less prone to burn-in than OLED too, which means they will last longer while still offering deeper blacks and richer colors.