Following his report earlier this week indicating that Apple will be accelerating adoption of mini-LED displays in its iPad and Mac notebook lineups thanks to better than expected development from potential secondary supplier Sanan Optoelectronics, analyst Ming-Chi has released a new report today sharing a bit more perspective on the mini-LED display market as it relates to Apple.
Kuo says that Epistar remains Apple’s initial partner for mini-LED chips, but that Sanan and others should be able to quickly join Apple’s supply chain as existing patents are not expected to serve as significant barriers to entry. As a result, mini-LED efforts by Apple and its suppliers have effectively moved from the “technology development” stage to the “economies of scale/cost” stage.
While Sanan has seen rapid development of its mini-LED capabilities that could allow it ship large quantities of the chips to Apple in the first half of 2021, Kuo says that Epistar has experienced some yield issues that have led Kuo to reduce his fourth-quarter 2020 display shipment estimates by 50% to between 300,000 and 400,000.
Kuo has said that Apple has at least six iPad and Mac products with mini-LED displays in its pipeline for launch by the end of 2021, but he indicates that the initial batch of displays coming through the end of 2020 will be for an iPad Pro.
Apple’s mini LED dies will be mass-produced in 4Q20, but due to yield issues related to the production process of display module materials, the 4Q20 display shipments have been revised down by 50% to 300,000-400,000. We believe that the mini LED display in 4Q20 will be used for the new iPad Pro.
Kuo has long predicted that a high-end 12.9-inch iPad Pro would likely be Apple’s first mini-LED product.
As indicated in his earlier report, Kuo sees fierce price competition among Apple’s mini-LED suppliers in 2021, predicting that Apple’s costs for the mini-LED dies will drop by 50% in 2021 and a further 35% in 2022.
Mini-LED displays, which use on the order of 1,000 to 10,000 individual LEDs, can offer deeper, darker blacks, brighter brights, richer colors, and better contrast compared to traditional LED-based displays, though the technology comes at a significant increase in cost for the time being.