iPad with OLED screens could still happen - but it's a long way out

Apple iPad Pro 11 (2021)
(Image credit: Future)

We've no idea if Apple is working on a new iPad Pro with an OLED screen, and that's because alternating leaks keep flip-flopping on the subject. The latest news is that the company is working on a top-end tablet with this display technology, but that it might not come until 2024.

This news comes from South Korean news site The Elec, which often provides insider information based on production sources locally. A couple of months after the site said that an OLED iPad Pro wasn't happening, it's changed its tune, and now says such a slate could come - just in at least two years time.

You see, Samsung Display makes OLED panels (that's a different arm of the company to the one that makes Galaxy phones), and it sounds like it and Apple are having a real 'will-they-won't-they' dynamic regarding whether they'll work together on iPad screens. 

After OLED iPads were reportedly canceled in late 2021 due to the inability to turn a profit, and Apple being unhappy with the structure of displays created, The Elec now reports that Samsung is bringing in new equipment to fix these issues - which suggests OLED iPads are back on the menu.

The new factory equipment will apparently arrive in 2023, so OLED iPads will likely only show up in 2024 or later. Well, that's if Apple and Samsung Display don't have another tiff - let's see what time will bring.

Analysis: do iPads even need OLED screens?

It's worth pointing out that, while most news we've heard about OLED Apple tablets refers to the top-end iPad Pro family, The Elec's new report doesn't actually specify this family of slates, and just refers to OLED iPads in general.

OLED is a screen technology that you often see in TVs, smartphones and tablets, and it's generally seen as preferable to LCD in mobile technology, as it leads to better colors and contrast, though it's sometimes harder to see outdoors.

iPads generally use LCD screens, apart from the iPad Pro (2021) which instead got mini LED, and we're not totally convinced most iPad users really need, or will care about, the jump up to OLED.

Since iPads are already the dominant device in the tablet market, it's clear that audiences are pretty fond of their LCD screens - and if Apple is struggling to go through the rigmarole of sourcing OLED, maybe it's not worth the extra cost the consumer will eventually have to cover.

The one exception is iPad Pros, because some working professionals do use those devices, and the benefit of OLED - including improved colors and contrast - could be useful to artists, color graders or mobile journalists.

It sounds like an iPad Pro-first strategy is what Apple is doing for its OLED screens, despite The Elec not mentioning the family in its report, and we'll have to see whether audiences care about OLED iPads even later than 2025.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.