Future iPads could adopt hybrid OLED screens that don’t show visible wrinkles

Future iPads could adopt hybrid OLEDs because flexible ones used in the Apple Watch and iPhone are prone to wrinkling when used on screens above ten inches.

iPad Pro with Apple Pencil lying on its back at a 45 degree angle
Flexible OLEDs on tablet-size screens warp | Image: Rahul Chakraborty / Unsplash
  • What’s happening? A new industry report alleges that Apple is considering hybrid OLED panels for its future OLED-based iPads becasue the technology doesn’t suffer from visible wrinkling if used for screens above ten inches.
  • Why care? OLED technology is superior to the iPad’s current LCD displays in terms of showing true blacks and vivid colors and supporting higher resolution.
  • What to do? Tell us what you think about this report in the comments!

Apple could adopt hybrid OLED panels for future iPads

A typical OLED panel you would find in a smartphone is flexible rather than rigid, using polyimide films instead of glass. Apple’s iPhone and Apple Watch use flexible OLED which, in the iPhone’s case, is larger than the visible screen because it bends within the chassis. Read: New to iPad? Here is how to customize the Dock

But it would seem that Apple is concerned that this type of OLED film isn’t suitable for the iPad because it’s prone to visible warping when the screen size exceeds ten inches. Warping distortions also occur on the iPhone’s OLED display, but the effect isn’t noticeable given a typical phone display is between five and seven inches.

An industry executive told Korean-language The Elec that “Apple hated the fact that a part of the product screen could look wrinkled to the user’s eyes when using a flexible OLED.” Therefore, the Cupertino giant is now expected to use the more expensive hybrid OLED technology to avoid visible warping.

The technology reportedly combines a glass substrate (like rigid OLED panels) and flexible OLED panel technologies. The publication explains that the visible warping is a side-effect of how flexible OLED panels are manufactured.

An OLED iPad should have superior display quality

Apple puts a high priority on display quality. No one wants an OLED iPad with a display that wrinkles and warps as you press your finger against it. With that in mind, we think Apple is right to take its time and ensure that the first OLED iPad is worth it.

Apple previously partnered with Samsung Display on OLED panels for iPads. But after the companies spent more than a year on the project, it was abruptly shut down due to high production costs and quality issues.

Display Supply Chain Consultants analyst Ross Young thinks the first OLED-based iPads and MacBooks could come in 2024. Moreover, Apple is rumored to develop a foldable iPhone/iPad hybrid with a nine-inch OLED screen when fully unfolded, but such a device is unlikely to launch before 2025.