Apple is expected to adopt mini-LED backlights across a range of upcoming products, beginning with a brand new 31.6-inch display coming later this year and continuing with an all-new 15 to 17-inch MacBook Pro model due in the first half of 2021 and ten to twelve-inch iPads reportedly launching between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021.
That’s according to a new research note penned by Ming-Chi Kuo, a well-connected analyst with TF International Securities. A copy of the research note was originally obtained by the Economic Daily News newspaper and relayed by Taiwanese publication MoneyDJ.
Just don’t confuse this mini-LED backlight technology with micro-LED, another advanced display technology that Apple is interested in but is not yet ready for mass adoption.
The analyst’s note follows a report published this morning by another Taiwanese publication, DigiTimes, which incorrectly referred to the 31.6-inch display as a new iMac model.
According to MacRumors which also obtained Kuo’s note, there’s no mention of an iMac in there. For what it’s worth, Kuo’s wide-ranging note issued in February predicting Apple’s upcoming releases called for an external Apple-branded display with 6K resolution.
The standalone display, Kuo writes, is expected to arrive later this year and feature “outstanding picture quality” thanks to Apples’ adoption of the mini-LED-like backlight design. If conventional wisdom is anything to go by, Apple should unveil the new display alongside the promised new modular Mac Pro at WWDC on June 3.
Strictly speaking, this is a quasi-mini-LED backlight unit because the chip size is much larger than those of standard mini-LEDs, according to industry sources.
However, the use of such a backlight unit will give opportunities for the supply chain makers to improve mini-LED production in cost and yield rate, the sources noted.
The biggest takeaway here is not the rumored product releases which we knew from before would be coming, but rather the fact that Apple will switch to mini-LED backlights.
According to the revered analyst, the move will bring benefits like wide color gamut, high contrast ratio, high dynamic range and local dimming, powering top-notch HDR video capabilities and resulting in further product differentiation.
9to5Mac’s Jeff Benjamin has more on the mini-LED design:
Essentially regions of the backlight can be turned on and off unlike current Mac displays where the whole backlight panel lights up evenly. If you turn a backlight off in a region you get an effect similar to true black OLED, resulting in enhanced contrast ratio. A mini LED-like backlight design would be more precise, thinner and more energy-efficient.
The backlight powering the display should use 500 LED chips of 600 microns in size, as per DigiTimes. The key suppliers of these new backlights should be Japan-based Nichia, Epistar and Radiant Opto-Electronics, with LG Display delivering the LCD panels.
What do you make of this report?