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New iPad Air 5 report is bad news for killer OLED upgrade

iPad Air 5 rumors
(Image credit: Apple)

The rumored iPad Air 5 may not get an OLED panel after all, with Apple reportedly sticking with LCD screen technology instead. 

That's according to claims coming from a reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, via Mac Rumors. In an investor note, Kuo stated that Apple will ditch rumored plans to produce an OLED-equipped iPad Air "due to costs and performance not meeting the company's expectations."

The news broke shortly after a report from The Elec also suggested that Apple may not release an iPad with an OLED panel until at least 2023. And while both sources seem to correspond, the reasons behind The Elec's claims seem to slightly differ from that of Kuo. 

Kuo claimed that apart from "concerns around quality and costs," the reason for Apple cancelling its rumored OLED iPad Air was that it "may have been detrimental to the sales of the forthcoming 11-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ with a mini-LED display." 

The analyst had previously said that Apple could launch an 11-inch iPad Pro with a mini-LED display as soon as next year, similar to what's currently implemented in the 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2021. Therefore, Apple has reportedly decided not to sabotage sales of the upgraded smaller iPad Pro model with a release of the OLED iPad Air. 

Meanwhile, The Elec had claimed that Apple's decision not to go with an OLED panel had to do with alleged differences of opinion that Cupertino's been having with Samsung Display, the rumored display manufacturer of the iPad Air 5.

According to "people familiar with the matter," The Elec claimed that Apple's partnership with the South Korean company was "stopped due to either the single stack structure of OLED panel or profitability issues or both." 

In short, Apple wasn't reportedly satisfied with the "single stack structure" used in the display and proposed a "double stack structure" instead to ensure long-lasting use and improved brightness levels. However, Samsung Display insisted on the former, making that point that it had only commercialized single-stack OLED panels so far. 

"Single stack" is a term that's commonly used to describe structure of an OLED panel, where the red, green and blue pixels are stacked to form one emission layer, whereas the "double stack structure" forms two emission layers, which could increase the panel's lifespan by four times, according to The Elec. 

But even if Apple opts for the LCD display, according to Mac Rumors, Kuo claimed that "the company continues to research and develop newer display technologies for the ‌iPad‌ line," meaning that some form of upgrade could be underway.
Previous reports also hinted that the iPad Air 5 could sport an upgraded dual-camera system, 5G connectivity and a LiDAR scanner. There's also possibility of it being powered by the A15 Bionic chip, which is currently implemented in the current iPhone 13 lineup. 

Denise Primbet

Denise is a news writer at Tom’s Guide covering all things tech, gaming software/hardware, streaming, and more. She regularly produces short-form news articles as well as long-form content, including reviews, buying guides, how-tos, and features. When she's not live-streaming horror games on Twitch, she can be found exploring East London while playing Pokemon Go. She’s also a part-time piano enthusiast and regularly experiments in the kitchen. You can reach her at denise.primbet@futurenet.com.