What to Expect When Apple Transitions to Mini-LED Technology

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Apple is planning to introduce mini-LED displays across much of its product lineup, adding the technology to the Mac notebooks and iPads. Mini-LED displays will bring some useful technology improvements to Apple's products, as outlined in our guide below.


What is Mini-LED?

LCD panels used by Apple use LEDs, or light-emitting diodes inside for backlighting purposes to light up the display. Mini-LEDs, as the name suggests, are smaller diodes that are less than 0.2mm.

A device like a TV features an LCD panel with LEDs for backlighting, with the panel used to control where light is displayed on the screen. Depending on what's on the display, the LEDs are lit up fully or dimmed down for dark scenes. Apple's MacBook models currently use a strip of LEDs at the bottom, while the new Pro Display XDR uses multiple LEDs, 576 to be exact. A mini-LED display will be somewhat similar to the Pro Display XDR, but with more LEDs.

Compared to a traditional LCD that uses multiple LEDs, a panel light with mini-LEDs uses many more LEDs, which means there are more total dimming zones to work with. A traditional display might use hundreds of LEDs, but a mini-LED display could have more than a thousand. Apple, in fact, is said to be exploring mini-LED displays that use 10,000 LEDs, each one below 200 microns.

Mini-LED Improvements

Because there are more LEDs and more dimming zones, mini-LED displays can offer deeper, darker blacks, brighter brights, richer colors, and better contrast because there's more control over what's displayed on the screen with so many LEDs.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also said that Apple's transition to mini-LED will allow for thinner and lighter product designs that offer a lot of the same benefits as OLED. Mini-LEDs are close to the deep blacks and better HDR provided by OLED, but without the burn-in or degradation issues.

LED-backlit LCDs are much more power efficient than the cold cathode fluorescent lighting used for LCD panels in the past, and mini-LED LCDs will have additional power efficiency gains.

Mini-LED vs. Micro-LED vs. OLED

Though the names are similar, there are notable differences between micro-LED and mini-LED displays. Mini-LED is the same as LED backlighting that's used today but with many more LEDs for more dimming zones, while micro-LED is similar to OLED with self-emissive pixels that can each be independently lit.

Apple is working on micro-LED technology as well, but mini-LED will come first in iPads and Macs because micro-LED technology is so expensive right now.

OLED stands for organic light-emitting diode, and in an OLED display, every pixel or subpixel lights up individually in a specific color or switches as power is applied or turned off, allowing for the deepest blacks and the best contrast. micro-LED is similar, but it is made from an inorganic material that does not decay as fast as OLED.

OLED is superior to mini-LED technology because it produces more even lighting with no pixel groups involved, but micro-LED is believed to be superior to OLED because it can offer higher levels of brightness and there are no issues that can lead to screen burn in or drops in brightness over time.

Apple uses OLED displays in its iPhones, but OLED is also a technology that has so far proven to be too expensive to be used for the larger displays of Macs and iPads. Apple may be planning to skip OLED all together in its Macs and iPads, going from mini-LED technology to micro-LED eventually.

Micro-LED is the future technology to look forward to, but mini-LED is the technology that Apple is ready to debut in the near future.

Products Expected to Get Mini-LED Displays

Apple is working on multiple iPads and MacBooks that use mini-LED technology, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Here's where we can expect to see mini-LED technology deployed in the next year or two:
Based on rumors, it sounds like Apple's ultimate plan is to transition much of its iPad and Mac lineup to mini-LED display technology. The MacBook Pro lineup, the iPad Pro, and the iMac Pro could be some of the first products to get mini-LED displays.

When to Expect Mini-LED Technology

The first mini-LED products were expected at the end of 2020, but with the global health crisis, Apple's plans are up in the air. Kuo recently said that we may not see any mini-LED devices until 2021, with mass production to kick off in the third quarter of 2020 and final assembly to take place in the first quarter of 2021.

There have been other rumors from DigiTimes that still suggest a 2020 release for some mini-LED products, so we'll just have to wait and see how the rumors pan out in the coming months. Right now, we're looking at either late 2020 or early 2021 for the first mini-LED devices.

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Article Link: What to Expect When Apple Transitions to Mini-LED Technology
 
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EugW

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Jun 18, 2017
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Just gimme that damn 11” iPad Pro with mini-LED.

So, what I understood... Mini-LED is like an improved LCD display, it isn’t as good as OLED, but it’s cheaper. Micro-LED is better than OLED but it’s more expensive. Am I right?
Micro-LED more expensive? Well, I guess you could say that since it isn’t really cheap enough for mass production yet, whereas mass-produced OLED has been around for many years.

Put it this way: Some analysts expect that micro-LED will represent less than 0.5% of display panel sales in... wait for it... 2026!
 
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Bubble99

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Mar 15, 2015
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So, what I understood... Mini-LED is like an improved LCD display, it isn’t as good as OLED, but it’s cheaper. Micro-LED is better than OLED but it’s more expensive. Am I right?
From what I understand OLED have better contrast but the colors are not as bright and vibrant like miniLED.
- - Post merged: - -

Just gimme that damn 11” iPad Pro with mini-LED.


Micro-LED more expensive? Well, I guess you could say that since it isn’t really cheap enough for mass production yet, whereas mass-produced OLED has been around for many years.

Put it this way: Some analysts expect that micro-LED will represent less than 0.5% of display panel sales in... wait for it... 2026!
Yea I keep hearing that micro-LED for TV and computer monitors are still 10 to 15 years out.
 
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Piggie

macrumors G3
Feb 23, 2010
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I mean it's nice, and I love any improvements.
I feel however, that you just need to accept this is still just another stop gap improvement along the way to a much better technology.
As Apple are moving to AMOLED screens for their phones now, I'm assuming it's simply price that we can't get have such technology in laptops?
 
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JPack

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Mar 27, 2017
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So, what I understood... Mini-LED is like an improved LCD display, it isn’t as good as OLED, but it’s cheaper. Micro-LED is better than OLED but it’s more expensive. Am I right?
Mini LED is as good as OLED. It combines the benefits of LCD and OLED.

LCD = best in brightness and color accuracy
OLED = best in contrast ratio and panel thickness

Micro LED picture quality will exceed mini-LED.
 
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dazz87

macrumors 65816
Sep 24, 2007
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Mini LED is as good as OLED. It combines the benefits of LCD and OLED.

LCD = best in brightness and color accuracy
OLED = best in contrast ratio and panel thickness

Micro LED picture quality will exceed mini-LED.
I think you got Micro LED confused with Mini LED..............Micro LED (Samsung) is the one that is as good (better imho) as OLED......Black level as good as OLED without the Burn in.
 
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justperry

macrumors G4
Aug 10, 2007
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I'm a rolling stone.
Just gimme that damn 11” iPad Pro with mini-LED.


Micro-LED more expensive? Well, I guess you could say that since it isn’t really cheap enough for mass production yet, whereas mass-produced OLED has been around for many years.

Put it this way: Some analysts expect that micro-LED will represent less than 0.5% of display panel sales in... wait for it... 2026!
From what I understand OLED have better contrast but the colors are not as bright and vibrant like miniLED.
- - Post merged: - -



Yea I keep hearing that micro-LED for TV and computer monitors are still 10 to 15 years out.
Fabs invest billions in a manufacturing process, they want their investments back and a healthy profit, my guts says it will take another 5-7 years before we'll see them in bigger devices.
As for Apple devices, I think we will see the first micro leds in a few years in the Apple watch, it's tiny so it's much easier to manufacture, probably in a year 2 or 3 from now.
 
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gnipgnop

macrumors 65816
Feb 18, 2009
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Mini LED is as good as OLED. It combines the benefits of LCD and OLED.

LCD = best in brightness and color accuracy
OLED = best in contrast ratio and panel thickness
Mini LED is closer to OLED, but not better. It's still lacking in blacks/contrast, local dimming capability, and viewing angle versus an OLED panel.
 
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69Mustang

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Jan 7, 2014
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In between a rock and a hard place
This article serves to confuse more than illuminate. @jclo
Micro-LED is not at all similar to Mini-LED. It is more similar to OLED. Both are self-emissive, meaning each led is it's own light source and can be independently lit and it actually makes the images we see. The primary difference is one is organic (OLED) and subject to shorter lifespan and the other is made from inorganic material that doesn't age as quickly.

Mini-LED is backlighting technology - it doesn't create the image we see. Neither OLED nor Micro-LED use backlights because they are the lighting source and the image.
 
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nutmac

macrumors 601
Mar 30, 2004
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Mini LED is as good as OLED. It combines the benefits of LCD and OLED.

LCD = best in brightness and color accuracy
OLED = best in contrast ratio and panel thickness

Micro LED picture quality will exceed mini-LED.
Mini LED is not as good as OLED, far from it. Take a look at Rting's comparison of TCL Q825 (mini LED TV) vs. LG C9 (OLED TV).

TCL Q825 (mini LED)LG C9 (OLED
Mixed Usage8.29.0
Movies8.49.3
TV Shows7.98.5
Sports7.98.8
Video Games8.69.4
HDR Movies8.59.0
HDR Gaming8.59.1
PC Monitor8.58.9

Mini LED offers high peak brightness, but OLED is superior at almost everything else (permanent burn in risk notwithstanding of course).

Micro LED should be better overall than OLED though, and without permanent burn in risk.
 
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