CiccareseDesign iPad 5 size comparison (image 002)

Several supply chain checks are now pointing to Apple’s fifth-generation iPad being lighter and thinner over its predecessor, the iPad 4. According to one display expert, Apple will achieve the thinner appearance in a lighter device thanks to advancements in the display department. For starters, in reducing the size of LED backlighting and improving its efficiency, Apple engineers will be able to reduce the overall weight of the device. The company may also use a new kind of touch sensor, he speculated Friday…

CNET quotes NPD DisplaySearch analyst Paul Semenza:

It’s likely that part of the thinner/lighter design will be reducing the size of the LED backlight, partly by making the display more efficient and partly by using more efficient LEDs.

The other significant change that we feel is likely is a shift to a film-based touch sensor.

Recall, if you will, that the 7.9-inch iPad mini, which is 7.2mm thick, incorporates a DITO film touch panel sensor. In addition to a thinner and lighter display assembly, the next full-size iPad is also thought to adopt the iPad mini’s narrow side bezels.

DisplaySearch knows a thing or two about mobile screens and they correctly called for the iPhone 5’s in-cell display assembly ahead of the handset’s release. On the other hand, DisplaySearch incorrectly believed the iPad 4 would be thinner than the third-generation model.

It wasn’t immediately clear if concrete leads or pure speculation led Semenza to claim knowledge of Apple’s plans. He also couldn’t tell whether or not there will be “a big change” to the iPad’s 9.7-inch screen, such as using IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) panels by Sharp.

iPad 5 front panel (NowhereElse 002)
Purported front panel iPad 5 part, recently posted by NowhereElse.

The rumor-mills long speculated Apple could adopt IGZO for next-gen iOS devices, but ongoing issues with manufacturing yields and Sharp’s financial woes are believed to have led Apple to stick with IPS LCD technology used on current iPads.

Currently, Sharp is only able to produce IGZO panels for smaller devices sold in the Japanese market.

Apple, however, recently hired a former LG Display OLED expert, an indication it’s actively researching emerging technologies and constantly evaluating its options concerning mobile screens.

iPad 5 mockup top of post: CiccareseDesign, commissioned by MacRumors.