DisplaySearch: Apple re-engineering the iPad’s Retina Display around thinner IGZO tech

Apple’s “resolutionary” iPad 3 brings with it the company’s best Retina Display yet, featuring an astounding resolution of 2,048-by-1,536 pixels. Because so many pixels are crammed up on the same 9.7-inch canvas, much stronger backlight is required in order to push the light through the pixels, taxing the battery and adding up to the device’s overall thickness.

A new report cites a prominent display expert who claims that Cupertino is working on an improved Retina tech for an updated third-generation iPad. The new display is thought to be thinner and consume less power, allowing for a new iPad stock-keeping unit (SKU) with a slightly better battery life and lower heat dissipation…

Brooke Crothers, writing for CNET, quotes market research firm NPD DisplaySearch’s analyst Richard Shim who thinks, based on his supply chain checks, that Apple will tap Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide (GZO) panels to reduce the display’s thickness and heat.

We are seeing [Apple] work with panel makers to come out with a display that enables a thinner overall [product] with longer battery life.

DisplaySearch also wrote in a last week’s note:

Apple is working with the LCD supply chain to refresh the display, including revising the LED backlight design for cost reduction, refining the thermal solution, reducing the weight by replacing some components, and fine tuning the panel transmittance for lower power consumption.

Samsung would be a likely manufacturer, the analyst said.

This contrast a summer report by DigiTimes which also called for a revised third-gen iPad with IGZO technology, but said to be supplid by the ailing Japanese electronics maker Sharp.

Apple’s favorite contract manufacturer Foxconn is throwing Sharp a lifeline by offering to buy some of its shares. Foxconn CEO Terry Gou also bought Sharp’s cutting-edge Japanese plant that produces IGZO panels and paid for it out of his own pocket, in an attempt to “beat Samsung on clearness”, as he put it.

Samsung is currently the primary supplier of Retina displays for the third-generation iPad. There has been some talk lately that Apple was cutting back part orders from its South Korea-based frenemy, though only for the next iPhone.

If true, this would mean Apple has after all acknowledged Heatgate and accepted that the iPad’s Retina performance may not be up to its high standards.

The research firm estimates Apple could make about seven million iPads with the updated Retina technology.


The report coincides with a July story by iLounge editor Jeremy Horwitz who wrote that a new iPad 3 SKU should be expected by the year’s end, based around minor improvements to its internals and the addition of a smaller dock connector that’s reportedly debuting on the iPhone 5 next Wednesday.

Apple’s current plan for the fourth-generation iPad is to release another relatively modest body tweak, which would keep the shape basically the same while introducing the new small Dock Connector, a rear-side microphone, and spec-improving/heat-reducing changes to the hardware inside.

Call it a fourth-generation iPad or just a new SKU of the iPad 3, but this would be the first time Apple skipped its annual refresh cycle for its mobile devices to update an iOS device with better technology.

This isn’t terribly surprising, if you ask me.


Just take another look at Apple’s television commercials for the iPad, the iPhone and even the new MacBook Pro: they all focus on just one thing – the Retina display.

Are you satisfied with the Retina display performance on your iPad 3?