Apple Supplier Epistar Says Clients Are Working on Mini-LED Products Amid Rumors of Mini-LED iPad and MacBook

Epistar president Chin-Yung Fan said his company's clients are developing notebooks, tablets, smartphones, and monitors with Mini-LED backlighting systems, which will naturally boost demand for Mini-LEDs in the second half of 2020, according to Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes.

Epistar is an Apple supplier, leading to the possibility that the iPhone maker is one of the unnamed clients working on Mini-LED products, as previously rumored, but Epistar declined to comment on any specific clients.


Last week, noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of investor firm TF International Securities said Apple plans to release an iPad with a Mini-LED display between the fourth quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, followed by a MacBook with a Mini-LED display in the first or second quarter of 2021.

Kuo said Epistar will be one of Apple's suppliers for those iPad and MacBook models. Epistar is the largest LED manufacturer in Taiwan.

Kuo expects the iPad and MacBook to be positioned at the high end of their respective product lines due to costly Mini-LED display components, suggesting they will be iPad Pro and MacBook Pro models. He previously said the iPad will have a 10-12 inch screen and the MacBook will fall in the 15-17 inch range.

Kuo added that the Mini-LED backlit displays will allow for thinner and lighter product designs, while offering many of the same benefits of OLED displays used on the latest iPhones, including good wide color gamut performance, high contrast and dynamic range, and local dimming for truer blacks.

The future iPad and MacBook displays will each use approximately 10,000 LEDs, compared to 576 in Apple's upcoming Pro Display XDR, according to Kuo. Each LED is said to be very small — below 200 microns in size.


Apple continues to use LCDs across its entire iPad and Mac lineups for now, but if this rumor proves to be accurate, we can expect the first Mini-LED models within the next 12 to 18 months or so. Prices will likely start on the higher side, but the technology should shuffle its way down the lineup in the years to come.

Related Roundups: iPad Pro, MacBook Pro

This article, "Apple Supplier Epistar Says Clients Are Working on Mini-LED Products Amid Rumors of Mini-LED iPad and MacBook" first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Apple Recently Visited With Taiwanese Makers of Thinner and Brighter MicroLED and MiniLED Displays

Apple representatives attended the Touch Taiwan display industry convention in Taipei this week, holding private meetings with Taiwanese display makers AU Optronics and Epistar, according to the Economic Daily News.


The report claims Apple held the meetings to learn more about each company's development of next-generation display technologies MicroLED and MiniLED, suitable for future generations of iPhones and Apple Watches. As those names suggest, both technologies utilize arrays of very tiny LEDs.

In May, AU Optronics received a Best in Show award at the Display Week 2018 convention in Los Angeles for its multiple advanced display technologies, including the "world's highest resolution and full color TFT driven 8-inch micro LED display technology," according to the company's press release.

Apple is said to be most interested in MicroLED, as MiniLED is described as more of a transitionary technology that it may skip.

Apple has been exploring MicroLED displays since at least 2014, when it acquired MicroLED display maker LuxVue. In 2015, Apple reportedly opened a secretive laboratory in Taoyuan, Taiwan to research the technology, but has since shifted the efforts to Santa Clara, California, near its headquarters.

In addition to AU Optronics and Epistar, Apple has reportedly collaborated with its contract manufacturer TSMC to develop methods of mass producing MicroLED panels. Apple also reportedly held talks with another Taiwanese company PlayNitrite, which has developed its own MicroLED solution PixeLED.

MicroLED displays have many of the same advantages as OLED displays have over LCDs, including improved color accuracy, improved contrast ratio, faster response times, and true blacks given both have self-lit pixels, but they are even thinner, much brighter, and more energy efficient than OLED panels.

Image Credit: TrendForce

MiniLED displays also have benefits such as improved brightness and contrast ratio, but they have a backlight like LCDs.

As with OLED, Apple's use of MicroLED would likely start small, with the Apple Watch, followed by the iPhone. A recent report said Apple may use MicroLED for its widely rumored augmented reality glasses as well.

All in all, the transition to MicroLED should lead to even better displays and longer battery life on future Apple devices.


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