Some time ago, the news that Apple announced the holding time of the WWDC Developer Conference sparked a lot of discussion. According to Apple's past practice, the spring new product launch conference was announced first rather than the WWDC held later.
And this year's spring conference is also more anticipated. Since iPad Pro has used iPadOS, its own hardware has not been greatly upgraded. Many friends around me are still using iPad Pro 2018 with a magic keyboard.
Second-hand trading platforms such as Xianyu will also find that the value preservation rate of iPad Pro 2018 is relatively high among the iPad Pro released in recent years. This year, what kind of iPad Pro Apple will produce to change this state and attract consumers to change phones is what interests many iPad users.
Apple’s answer is the screen. According to the prediction report of well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, the iPad Pro will use a new mini LED screen.
How to achieve a mini LED screen with high brightness without burning the screen and eye damage
In order to better explain the characteristics of mini LED and why Apple chose it, we will compare it with common LCD screens and OLED screens in the industry this time.
Generally speaking, LCD screens are composed of white LED lights around the screen to form a backlight layer, and then through the filter layer, liquid crystal layer and other components, the three primary colors of red, green and blue are mixed and filtered to display various colors. .
▲The phenomenon of light leakage on the iPad is that the LEDs around the screen are not closely attached.
Mini LED is also called sub-millimeter light-emitting diode. The general method of this screen is to spread thousands of tiny LED lights across the entire backlight layer. It can be said that mini LED is an optimized and improved version of LCD screen.
This allows it to independently control a single LED light to achieve a function similar to Always On Display (interest screen display), one part is on and the other part is off, saving power while displaying some simple information.
And more LED lights are also conducive to finer display. The most intuitive thing is the color contrast. Compared with LCD screens, mini LED screens can achieve finer color level adjustments to achieve high contrast, even comparable to OLED screens. .
▲ Pro Display XDR uses 576 blue LEDs
In addition to brightness, more LED lights are also conducive to achieving higher brightness. Apple's Pro Display XDR display just launched in 2019 uses a similar technology to enhance the screen by adding LED lights and covering the backlight layer. Quality.
The brightness of Pro Display XDR reached 1000 nits, the peak brightness reached 1600 nits, and the contrast ratio reached 1000000:1. I believe that the finer mini LED screen will not be too far from the Pro Display XDR.
Speaking of this, you may be curious, but Always On Display, high contrast, and high brightness are not the characteristics of OLED screens. Indeed, in these respects, the technical principles of mini LEDs are similar to those of OLED screens, in that they both finely control a single lamp bead to improve the quality of the screen.
▲ Picture from: CNBC
However, OLED screens, which are now the mainstream in the mobile phone industry, have not satisfied consumers. One of its problems is that the screen burns, and the other is that low-brightness screens are prone to fatigue, commonly known as "blind screens", which are related to the materials used in OLED screens.
The full name of OLED is organic light-emitting diode (organic light-emitting diode). As an organic material, it is more prone to ageing than inorganic materials, and the aging degree of organic light-emitting diodes at different positions on the screen is different.
Organic light-emitting diodes that display the same content for a long time cannot be energized to adjust the color and brightness after aging, causing the screen to display fixed content for a long time in the aging position, which is "burning screen".
Although there is no large-scale burn-in case with the development of technology, the life of organic light-emitting diodes is still limited, and mini LED and LCD screens do not use organic materials, so naturally there will be no burn-in problems.
The second problem is eye damage. OLED screens generally display content by constantly turning on and off, based on the principle of human eyes’ visual stay, that is, PWM dimming display, but there is also a problem-human eyes on and off at low frequencies It is easy to feel discomfort in the environment.
At the same time, the organic light-emitting diodes are prone to aging. The flashing frequency of the lamp bead switch is generally not very high, and the screen flashing frequency will be further reduced at low brightness.
This has caused many people to feel dry and uncomfortable after watching the screen for a long time at night. Many users claim that "LCD will never be a slave" because of this. As an improved version of the LCD screen, Mini LED naturally does not have this problem.
Mini LED combines the advantages of OLED screens and solves some of the disadvantages of LCD and LCD. It is a good substitute. Sony and Xiaomi have already launched corresponding TV products. With the release of the new iPad Pro, mini LED is adopted. There will be more and more screen products.
What other Apple products can we see mini LED on?
When Apple launched Pro Display XDR in 2019, its high price and high quality itself triggered a lot of discussion, which also made me look forward to the actual experience of the new iPad Pro with mini LED screen.
Of course, Apple has always had a strategy of spreading good design and good technology into more Apple products to form a unified ecological experience. Touch ID, vibration motors, etc. are all examples, and mini LEDs may also enter other products.
Take the iPad product line as an example. The iPad Pro will use mini LED screens. It has been exposed many times. However, iPad Air and ordinary iPads should not use mini LED screens in the short term. On the one hand, there are cost constraints. On the other hand, Apple has also Need to use the screen to highlight the high-end positioning of the iPad Pro.
This and previous Apple product line through A whole series chip to maintain a certain basis of experience, through the screen, lens, and even body shape and materials to enhance product differentiation phase of positioning strategies in line .
Well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently released industry forecasts that iPad Pro will use mini LED screens, and iPad Air may use OLED screens afterwards. After long-term development, the maturity and cost control of OLED screens are already very good.
In addition, there is the Mac product line. Since Apple used the M1 chip on the MacBook Pro and MacBook Air last year, the discussion about its battery life and performance advantages has never ended.
It can also be seen from the disassembly diagram that this old mold is no longer suitable for the M1 chip. There are also many reports in the industry that Apple will launch new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air this year.
▲ The mold of the MacBook Air has not changed after the M1 chip is adopted, and the fan position is replaced with an aluminum extender. Picture from: iFixit
Regarding the use of new molds for MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and iMac, there are many reports that the shape will undergo major changes. Guo Mingchi’s forecast report also mentioned that both MacBook Air and MacBook Pro will use mini LED screens.
And with iPad Pro, Mac series of yields will be higher, according to MacRumors reported that Apple fourth quarter of 2020 Mac sales hit a new record, Mac products to create revenue was $ 0.9 billion, up from $ 7 billion a year earlier , An increase of 29%.
New molds and new screens will obviously further enhance product power and appeal to consumers. Of course, there are claims in the industry that Apple’s self-developed chip M1 will reduce costs and offset the increase in costs caused by mini LEDs, but it can offset them. How much depends on the situation of new products on sale.
The last question is whether the iPhone will use the mini LED screen in the future. There is not much hope for this in the short term.
First of all, it is limited by yield and cost. Whether it is Pro Display XDR or iPad Pro, the volume of the device is much larger than that of the iPhone, and the internal space is larger.
It is necessary to put enough LED lights in a small device to achieve high resolution, and also to put down a special control chip and related circuits to achieve the purpose of accurately adjusting the brightness and color of the LED, which puts higher requirements on assembly accuracy At present, most of the mini LED screens appear on TVs and monitors, but there are also reasons for high technical difficulty and cost constraints.
On the other hand, the structure of the mini LED is similar to that of the LCD screen. It has components such as a backlight layer and a liquid crystal layer. The screen thickness is relatively high. Because of the self-luminous characteristics of the OLED screen, the red, yellow and blue light beads on the screen can all be energized to emit light. The screen can be made very thin, and it is also suitable for small portable products such as mobile phones.
▲ OLED screen structure is much simpler and thinner than LCD screen
Technological breakthroughs require continuous investment and time, and the pursuit of "all fronts are screens" will also allow the iPhone to continue to adopt OLED screens.
mini LED is great, but the future of display is not it
We just talked a lot about the characteristics and advantages of mini LED screens, and there are more and more related products on the market, but this does not mean that products that include displays will use it.
On the one hand, it is the consideration of cost and product positioning. On the other hand, there is no better screen technology in the industry, that is, the Micro LED screen, which we have introduced in the previous article.
▲Comparison of LCD, OLED, and micro LED, image source: Wikipedia
Micro LED screen is composed of inorganic light-emitting diodes, similar to OLED screen, it is also composed of millions of LED lamp beads, the basic size is within 30μm, and some even reach the level of 5μm.
Each lamp bead does not need to rely on the backlight layer to be self-luminous, so that higher brightness and color contrast can be achieved. At the same time, because the Micro LED uses inorganic materials, there will be no burn-in problems on the OLED screen and the discomfort of long-term screen viewing caused by PWM dimming.
Compared with mini LEDs, Micro LEDs are thinner and bendable because of their self-luminous properties, and are suitable for more types of devices.
However, its disadvantage compared with mini LED and OLED is that the cost and technical difficulty are high. It is difficult to produce such tiny particles. It is also difficult to assemble millions of particles into a single screen. Knowing that the yield rate is relatively low.
Sony once exhibited a demo product called Crystal LED Display in 2012, which uses a Micro LED screen with a 55-inch resolution of 1080P. In 2019, Sony announced that it can use multiple Micro LED screens to assemble a display with a resolution of 16K, but the prices of Micro LED screens on the market are relatively expensive and not affordable for ordinary consumers.
▲ Sony once demonstrated the giant "Crystal LED Display" at CES, image source: SONY
Sony has also stated that this technology is suitable for places that require high display effects such as movie theaters, museums, and theaters.
Although the mini LED screen as a transitional product is not perfect, due to its high-quality performance, it will become one of the mainstream choices during the period when the Micro LED screen technology is not mature.
New technologies can bring a better experience, but cost reduction and mass production also have its meaning, making better experiences popular. Therefore, the application of mini LED screens in many Apple products and even display products is also worth looking forward to.
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