According to TheElec, Apple could use “hybrid” OLED panels in the first iPad with OLED that could arrive in several years. Current iPad models still use LED or mini-LED displays, so an iPad with an OLED display is still a bit far off.
What is Hybrid OLED?
But what is a hybrid OLED panel? It is an OLED panel that features both rigid OLED panels but has flexible OLED panel technology. A rigid OLED panel has glass substrates, while flexible OLED panels mainly use polyimides, which are encapsulated for protection. So a hybrid OLED panel would use a glass substrate like a rigid OLED, while also having the protection of a flexible OLED thin-film encapsulation.
Many smartphones currently on the market currently use flexible OLED panels for the displays, and Apple isn’t paying too much attention to that at the moment, according to insiders. The reason is that those flexible OLED screens end up looking wrinkled, and that’s just not pretty when Apple is still focused on hardware design. However, this characteristic of flexible OLED panels is not super noticeable on small smartphone screens, which can be around 6 inches, but rather on larger tablet and computer screens, ranging from 10 to 20 inches. .
Why do crinkles happen? This is because of the flexibility of OLED panels. During the manufacture of OLED panels, polyimide varnishes in liquid form end up being deposited on top of the substrate, and the glass is finally removed by lasers. The remaining polyimide that is solidified ends up being a plastic substrate, and during the laser removal process some parts of the polyimide may appear warped by the heat.
There’s a big reason why Apple might consider hybrid OLED instead of using flexible OLED panels, which are currently used in the best iPhones. And while the advantage of flexible OLEDs is good, the fact that they are flexible, they have flaws like the crumpled look. However, if these flaws can be fixed, Apple might end up using them.
Don’t expect a hybrid OLED iPad anytime soon
Some of Apple’s biggest competitors, Samsung Display and LG Display, are already working on developing an ultra-thin glass substrate that would be used in hybrid OLED panels. The objective of these hybrid OLED panels is to have a 2 mm thick glass substrate instead of the 5 mm currently on the market. However, this process is far from the commercialization stage and will take at least another year.
Apple is hosting its annual iPhone 14 event next week on September 7, which will also include updates for the Apple Watch Series 8 and more. We’re not expecting new iPads next week. Instead, it looks like we have an Apple event in October that might focus more on the best iPads and Macs.