Apple plans to switch to OLED displays for Macs and iPads in the next few years. However, according to new information from Korea, panel suppliers are holding back key investments in OLED production lines amid fears of a continued decline in Mac sales.

Apple aims to launch its first OLED iPads next year, and South Korean panel makers plan to use their existing lines to meet the Cupertino giant’s needs in 2024. For iPads and MacBooks after that date, however, Samsung Display and LG Display plan to build next-generation production lines that are more efficient and cost-effective.

Uncertain OLED panel sales

However, according to The Elec, neither panel maker has yet placed orders for the key equipment needed to build the 8th-generation OLED production lines, which will take at least a year to complete alone. 

The paper’s sources suggest that the Korean panel makers’ hesitation to invest is directly related to profitability concerns. There is no precedent for OLED panels being used in MacBooks, so it remains unclear how much Apple will be willing to pay for the panels.

Moreover, given the recent slump in MacBook sales, concerns about how many units Apple will order are growing. In its recent quarterly earnings report, Apple reported a significant year-over-year decline in Mac sales, from $10.4 billion to $7.2 billion, with Mac sales also down in the previous quarter.

Apple is preparing a gigantic OLED monitor for Macs

Does the current Pro Display XDR with its 32″ diagonal look small? Then we’ve got great news for you. According to analysts at Omdia, the Californian giant has started developing a pair of new OLED external displays that will expand its range in the future. 

And there’s a lot to play for. The analysts have found out that one of the upcoming displays will have a diagonal of 32″, and the second one will have a gigantic 42″, i.e. less than 107 cm. In both cases, these are supposed to be high-end models at or above the Pro Display XDR level. 

32″ Apple Pro Display XDR — Image courtesy of Apple

This will also be reflected in their price, which is expected to be very high, which is perhaps not surprising given the type of panel used. After all, OLED panels are considerably more expensive than current LCD or mini LED panels.

Unfortunately, when exactly we will see the new external displays needs to be clarified, as their development has just begun. It cannot be ruled out that the project will eventually fail to be completed, and Apple will write it off.

Market Analysis

According to sources, this is related to a significant decline in the global personal computer market. Apple responded by requesting a temporary suspension of Mac processor production earlier this year and resuming production at only half the capacity of supplier TSMC.

Since OLED displays in MacBooks are likely to increase the selling price, display panel suppliers are reportedly anticipating pressure from Apple on unit prices. 

Both Samsung and LG have official plans for investing in manufacturing. Still, simultaneously, both companies need more certainty, which could intensify and complicate investment decisions without guaranteed orders from Apple.

Many indications suggest that Apple wants to introduce new iPad Pro and Macs with OLED displays gradually. Analyst Ross Young expects the MacBook Air to launch with an OLED panel as early as 2024, and we could see an iPad Pro with an OLED display in the same year. 

The current situation suggests that Samsung will have an ongoing role in OLED panel shipments and will be involved in the iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and 14″ and 16″ MacBook Pro, although most likely, the Pro models will not switch to OLED displays until 2026.

Different displays between MacBook Pro and Air?

Future MacBooks will likely see a significant step forward regarding their display capabilities as early as next year. The Air and Pro models will get OLED displays that offer higher brightness, better contrast and, most importantly, better colour reproduction, with black at the forefront.

 However, the seemingly identical displays won’t be the same in the end, at least according to sources at the Asian portal The Elec. Specifically, the portal above’s sources claim that although Apple wants to get the best possible display panels on its laptops, it still reckons that the Air and Pro series need to be separated so that they don’t cannibalise on top of each other. 

So the Pro series will have much better OLED panels, which are supposed to be dual-layer (i.e., they’ll have two layers of RGB diodes), which will give them a longer life, but more importantly, much higher brightness and probably more accurate colour rendering. 

On the other hand, the Airy will get only single-layer displays and have to bow down to the Pro series in the abovementioned characteristics. For ordinary users, however, these will still be fabulous machines whose level will rise noticeably thanks to OLEDs. After all, you couldn’t ask for better display panels on them. 

The question marks are currently hanging over the price, but we won’t know until next year when the new products will slowly approach the market. It’s not an issue that should bother you any more, though, as you’ll only know the difference if you have the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air side by side. 

Plus, if the difference is a matter of 100 nits again like it is currently, you can trust me that even in direct sunlight, you won’t be able to tell the difference when you have those standing side by side. You’ll either get lucky and see something or sit somewhere else with your MacBook.