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New Leak Uncovers Upcoming iPad Upgrades to OLED Display and Release Timeline

Korea’s ETNews (via AppleInsider) has let the cat out of the bag when it comes to Apple’s plans to equip some of its iPad tablets with an OLED display. And that naturally leads to three questions: which iPad models can we expect to be so equipped, when can we expect these tablets to be released, and who put a cat inside a bag anyway? It appears that next year we can expect the next iteration of the iPad Pro slates to feature OLED panels, the first time one of Apple’s tablets will be equipped with an OLED display.

In 2026, Apple is expected to equip the iPad Air and the iPad mini with single-stack OLED displays. A single-stack OLED display uses a single emission layer while a two-stack, dual-emission OLED panel doubles the brightness of the screen and increases the lifespan of the display by up to four times. Both of those tablets are expected to be refreshed next year with the iPad Air (2024) turning in its M1 chip for a faster and more energy-efficient M2 SoC. The iPad mini (2024) could end up next year with the A16 Bionic or the A17 Pro chipset to replace the A15 Bionic running the current version of the tablet.

ETNews says that in 2027 we should expect OLED displays to be used on a new iteration of Apple’s top-of-the-line iPad Pro series and the new 12.9-inch iPad Air. None other than TF International’s Ming-Chi Kuo recently posted that the larger iPad Air model will start mass production during Q1 of 2024. Kuo expects the display to use an Oxide backplane, the same technology employed on the 12.9-inch mini-LED iPad Pro.

The 2026 iPad mini is expected to feature an 8.7-inch OLED display - Leak reveals which iPad tablets will be upgraded to an OLED display and when it will happen

Speaking of the iPad Pro, when the 2027 models are shipped, the OLED displays might consist of the double-stack variety which, as we previously mentioned two paragraphs above, will make them brighter and more durable than the single-stack OLED panels that ETNews says that Apple will use on the 2026 iPad Air and iPad mini. The 2026 iPad mini will sport an 8.7-inch display according to the report, slightly larger than the current 8.3-inch screen.

While the report doesn’t mention double-stack specifically, using a translation app it does say to expect the 2027 iPad Pro to use a “next-generation panel that improves the light efficiency of the panel through Color Filter on Encapsulation (CoE).” Not only will this technology reduce power consumption by up to 20%, but it could allow Apple to use an under-panel version of Face ID on the tablet.

Apple wanted the double-stack OLED so badly that it forced Samsung to produce the panels. After Samsung Display initially refused to develop the double-stack OLED panels that Apple asked for, the latter dropped the supplier from its OLED iPad plans like a hot potato. Samsung Display realized that losing Apple’s tablet business might not be good for the bottom line and a few months later it was hard at work developing double-stack OLED panels just to get back in good graces with Apple’s iPad team.

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