Apple is testing an OLED iPad mini and iPad Air, but you might have a long wait

Apple has just equipped its iPad Pro with an OLED display for the first time, and the results have been remarkable – in our iPad Pro 13-inch (2024) review we praise the screen as “easily the best you’ll get on a tablet device.” Now, it looks like Apple could be planning to bring OLED to the iPad Air and iPad mini – but we may have to wait a while.

The rumor comes from a machine-translated article on Korean news site Naver (via Wccftech), which states that Samsung Display “has recently begun developing panels for the iPad mini.” As well as that, the website claims that “Apple plans to apply OLED to the iPad mini and Air models,” meaning that almost the entire iPad range could be in line for a serious screen upgrade.

Yet the report also notes that mass production isn’t expected to begin until the second half of 2025 at the earliest, with the tablets then being released in 2026. That’s potentially a two-year wait for the Air and mini to catch up to the iPad Pro.

While that makes sense from a business perspective – Apple wants the iPad Pro to stand out as a clear top-end option – it will no doubt be frustrating for anyone who wants to get their hands on an OLED iPad in a cheaper package.

It takes two to tandem

(Image credit: Apple)

According to Naver, the only iPad that will apparently miss out on OLED tech is the 10.9-inch iPad. After a recent price drop to  $349 / £349 / AU$599, this device is currently Apple’s most affordable tablet (costing less than the smaller iPad mini). Without an expensive OLED panel, Apple will be able to keep its cost down and offer a more accessible entry into the iPad lineup.

Still, adding OLED to nearly every iPad would be great news for Apple fans. The last time Apple introduced new high-end screen tech was in 2021 with the launch of the mini-LED iPad Pro, and this display never made it to any other iPads. Rolling out OLED displays to the iPad Pro, iPad Air and iPad mini would signal Apple’s dedication to the tech.

Apple doesn’t just employ any old OLED panels in the iPad Pro either – it uses a custom ‘tandem OLED‘ setup that far outstrips the competition and notches several industry firsts. However, it’s unclear whether this tech will make it into the upcoming iPad mini and iPad Air.

That’s because tandem OLED panels are more expensive to produce than regular OLEDs, owing to the fact that they consist of two displays sandwiched together. This results in much improved brightness and a thinner overall display, but the cost is most likely why Apple has limited it to the iPad Pro for now. Display industry expert Ross Young was very surprised by the iPad Pro’s $999 / £999 / AU$1,699 starting price, commenting that the use of a tandem OLED screen could have raised the iPad Pro’s price by 50% or more.

This all means it’s unlikely that the iPad Air and iPad mini will come with tandem OLED screens, at least until Apple can bring the price down. But the fact that they’re getting OLED at all is great news for Apple fans, even if there’s a bit of a wait until the devices finally make an appearance.

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