According to The Elec, Apple is already considering its pricing strategy for next year’s two OLED iPad Pro models, with current estimates starting at US$1,500 and $1,800 for the 11-inch and 13-inch models, respectively.
As noted by MacRumors, that would make the 11-inch device over 80 percent more expensive than the existing 11-inch iPad Pro with LED Liquid Retina display, which starts at $799, and the 13-inch model over 60% more expensive than the current 12.9-inch iPad Pro with mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display, which starts at $1,099.
The price increase is almost certainly due to the use of OLED displays. In a January 26 report, Counterpoint Research said that, unlike the mass adoption of OLED panels that has happened in other devices, the use of OLED in tablets has only been pursued by a handful of manufactures so far. However, the research group thinks this will change.
Samsung, one of the earliest adopters of OLED in tablets, started in 2014 but the shift proved ineffective in convincing its competitors to adopt the same. However, Counterpoint says that, with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and its role in increasing the importance of multimedia, tablet displays have progressively gained prominence. The market, which still predominantly consists of LCD panels, is starting to show all the necessary prerequisites for the expanded adoption of OLED in the tablet industry, according to Counterpoint.
The biggest technological difference between OLED and LCD displays relates to how the pixels are illuminated. LCDs rely on an LED backlight for illumination while OLEDs provide individual pixel illumination to offer better color contrasts and viewing angles.
However, these advantages come with drawbacks. Two distinct factors have hindered OLED adoption in the past. First is the large cost disparity between OLED and LCD panels. OLED panels are considerably more difficult to produce and are yet to reach the manufacturing scale of LCDs, leading to a higher cost per unit.
Second is the reliability of OLEDs, as burn-in and pixel wear are more prevalent compared to LCDs, making them less suitable for the longer lifespan of tablets. However, Counterpoint says these two issues are likely to be resolved in the near future with falling manufacturing costs and the introduction of new technologies, like the two-stack tandem OLED structure that provides 4x durability and 2x brightness when compared to existing OLED displays.
Leading display manufacturers have already started increasing their OLED production capacities. LG Display is doubling its output by increasing the capacities at the Paju and Guangzhou plants. Counterpoint says this will ultimately lead to a reduction in the per-unit cost of OLED panels.
Counterpoint said that despite the increasing OLED tablet launches from leading manufacturers, significant developments in OLED penetration will likely remain dormant in 2023 due to the likelihood of OLED displays remaining costly. Mass production of tandem OLEDs is slated to begin in 2024 with LG Display expected to start production as early as the first quarter of 2024.
As mentioned, Apple, the market mover in the tablet industry, is also predicted to announce OLED iPads in a similar time frame and expected to take a considerable market share of 21% in the second quarter of 2024. With Apple’s adoption of OLED tablets, other manufactures will likely follow suit, accelerating the shift to OLED displays as the new tablet standard, says Counterpoint.