Future MacBook Pros and iPad Pros could get this killer new OLED display

The MacBook Pro 2021 (14-inch)
(Image credit: Henry T. Casey)

Update: It looks like we've got a while to wait before we see the first OLED MacBooks and iPads

While the latest wave of iPad Pros and MacBook Pros feature lovely mini-LED displays, there are still rumors that Apple has plans to utilize OLED displays in the future. In fact, there may even be double-stacked OLED devices on the way.

According to Korean site The Elec, Apple is in talks with Samsung and LG to utilize OLED displays with a two-stack tandem structure on future iPads and MacBooks. It sounds like a weird thing to do, but it does mean those screens can be even brighter than they are now.

The Elec’s report claims that this tandem display structure would involve two layers of red, green and blue emissions layers that could offer up to double the brightness compared to Apple’s existing OLED devices — like the iPhone 13.

But what devices will get these new displays, if this rumor pans out? The Elec claims that iPad displays will come in 11-inch and 12.9-inch sizes, suggesting that the iPad Pros are due for this particular upgrade. As for MacBooks, the cost of OLED displays, and Apple’s continuing use of LCD on lower-end models, means the MacBook Pros are the most likely candidates.

The report also claims that the two-stack iPad displays will include low-power LTPO panels. While iPad Pros have offered ProMotion since 2017, a switch to LTPO would likely mean the tablets would offer a much larger range of refresh rates — possibly even ranging from 10Hz to 120Hz like the iPhone 13 Pro and the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

It’s not entirely clear what this means for mini-LED, which appeared on iPad Pros and MacBook Pros earlier this year. We had heard rumors Apple was planning to add mini-LED displays to even more products over the next couple of years, but it’s not clear whether that is still the case. Especially with all the supply chain issues affecting the tech industry, Apple included.

Mini-LED offers an advantage over standard OLED panels, offering better brightness, contrast, and coloring, but is generally considered to be more expensive due to its lack of widespread adoption. What Apple has planned is anyone’s guess, and a tiered approach to product displays may wind up confusing people.

Of course, this isn’t the first we’ve heard about iPads getting OLED displays either. The first OLED iPad was originally rumored to arrive in 2022, though more recent rumors have shot down that possibility. The Elec also claims that this launch has been pushed back to 2023 or 2024. Meanwhile, the two-stack OLED MacBook might launch in 2025 — provided there are no delays.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.