OLED iPads just tipped — and it's not just the screens that will be better

A concept render of the iPad Pro 2022
(Image credit: MyDrivers)

An OLED iPad is reportedly in the works at Apple, according to multiple leaks we've seen over the past few months. The latest report suggests we won't see such a tablet debut until 2024, but it may have a better screen than we expected.

Apple has so far said nothing to us about any plans to produce an OLED-equipped iPad, so it's notable that Korean tech publication ETNews claims to have heard confirmation that an iPad with an OLED display will launch in 2024. 

Such a tablet would surely earn a spot among the best iPads on the market, but you should take this report with a grain of salt because we've heard similar reports before, some from ETNews itself.

Last year the same publication reported that OLED iPads could be coming in 2022, but that now seems to be off the table. Of course, it's eminently possible that Apple had planned to launch such an iPad this year but delayed it due to the ongoing global supply chain issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

iPad Pro 2021 (11-inch)

Apple's iPad Pro 2021 (12.9-inch) shipped with a gorgeous mini-LED display that's capable of much better contrast and brightness than traditional LCD panels, but an OLED iPad could look even more vibrant. (Image credit: Tom's Guide)

We've also seen corroborating tips from sources who have been right in the past, including Display Supply Chain Consultants CEO Ross Young and analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Young claims OLED MacBooks and iPads are due in 2024, while Kuo takes a more conservative stance and believes that even if Apple can deliver an OLED-equipped MacBook to market in 2024, it will wait until 2025 to follow that up with an OLED iPad.

However, there's another intriguing piece of info in ETNews' report. The outlet claims that Apple is finalizing prototypes of an iPad OLED display with partners Samsung and LG that use a dry etching process instead of a wet etching process, which reportedly creates a thinner and lighter display.

ETNews believes Apple will make a big deal out of how this dry etching process makes the final product thinner and lighter. If true, it's hard to know whether Apple might offer dry etching as a key part of the iPad OLED manufacturing process, or as an optional upgrade you can pay extra for (much as it offers nano-textured glass as an optional display upgrade on products like the Apple Studio Display).

OLED iPads: Outlook

We've been hearing reports of an OLED-equipped iPad for well over a year now, so it's pretty believable to hear that Apple is finalizing prototypes with its manufacturing partners. A new report suggesting Apple will utilize hybrid OLED tech for iPads coming in 2024 lends further credence to these rumors.

Whether that means we'll actually see such a product debut in 2024 remains to be seen, but given the popularity of OLED displays on laptops and smartphones (including the iPhone, starting with the iPhone X) it's hard to imagine Apple isn't hard at work on an OLED iPad right now.

Alex Wawro
Senior Editor Computing

Alex Wawro is a lifelong tech and games enthusiast with more than a decade of experience covering both for outlets like Game Developer, Black Hat, and PC World magazine. A lifelong PC builder, he currently serves as a senior editor at Tom's Guide covering all things computing, from laptops and desktops to keyboards and mice.