Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo announced earlier this week that Apple plans to launch four to six miniature LED display products over the next two to three years, including a high-end 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
Kuo said that the miniature LED displays "greatly enhance the productivity and entertainment experience" and that miniature LED displays allow thinner and lighter product designs while offering many of the same benefits of OLED displays being up to date iPhones, including higher contrast ratio, higher brightness and deeper black.
According to DigiTimes Epistar, General Interface Solutions (GIS), Taiwan Surface Mounting Technology (TSMT), Zhen Ding Technology and Flexium Interconnect have become the orderly supply chain vendors.
Epistar, the LED wafer and chip manufacturer, will compete with Apple's Mini-LED chips for the Japanese company Toyoda Gosei through the Te Opto joint venture. Epistar will deliver mini-LED chips measuring 200 microns x 200 microns, and estimates that such an iPad Pro will use up to 10,000 mini-LED chips, the sources stated.
Apple originally opted for Radiant Opto-Electronics for miniature LED backlighting devices (BLUs). However, the company has been reluctant to invest in expanding production capacity. As a result, CIS and LG Display will most likely receive BLU orders, according to the sources mentioned.
Kuo previously said that future iPad and MacBook mini LED displays will each use approximately 10,000 LEDs, compared to 576 in Apple's upcoming Pro Display XDR. The analyst at TF International Securities assumes that each LED will be less than 200 microns in size.
GIS is an existing provider of touch modules and LCD modules that are used in Apple's iPads. Today's supply chain analysis confirms a recent report from Economic Daily News that GIS will also manufacture the mini-LED backlight units (BLUs) of the new "iPad Pro".
In the meantime, TSMT is expected to be responsible for the build-up technology, and Zhen Ding and Flexium have good chances to supply flexible circuit boards, according to DigiTimes .
Kuo expects the new mini LED iPad Pro to hit the market in the third quarter of 2020. It is rumored that Apple will refresh the "iPad Pro" in the spring of 2020. If this were the case, another new 12.9-inch model in fall 2020 would certainly be an early addition to the range.