First OLED MacBook next year ‘at the earliest’; thinner and lighter

Two noted analysts have somewhat different views on when we can expect to see the first OLED MacBook. Display analyst Ross Young recently doubled down on 2024 as the year, but while Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo agrees this could happen, he doesn’t see it as a certainty.

Kuo says that Apple will launch an OLED MacBook “by the end of 2024.” at the earliest” …

We’ve previously outlined the four-stage transition Apple is undergoing in its display tech.

The history and future of Apple’s display technology

The journey began with IPS LCD with conventional backlighting. This is still used in older Macs and cheaper iPhones, and while the tech is now ancient, Apple’s implementation still makes it look good.

Next came miniLED, and while this sounds like a whole new display tech, it’s not. It’s still IPS LCD; the difference is that Apple swapped out conventional LED backlighting for much smaller LEDs, hence miniLED. Having many more, smaller LEDs allows for much more precise control of the backlighting, with darker blacks and brighter whites. This is a small change that makes a big difference.

OLED: Apple first adopted this in the Apple Watch before bringing it to the iPhone, starting with the iPhone X. Apple has not yet used this in either iPads or MacBooks, but is expected to do so sometime in the 2023-2026 timeframe. With MacBooks, 2024 has been suggested as the most likely date.

MicroLED: Despite the similarity in name to miniLED, this is a completely different technology. It’s effectively a much more sophisticated version of OLED. It’s brighter, more power-efficient, and doesn’t suffer from burn-in. Apple’s interest in microLED dates back to at least 2014, and as with OLED, it is likely to come first to the Apple Watch, then iPhone, iPad, and Macs, in that order. A report just yesterday suggested that it will come to a top-end Apple Watch next year.

First OLED MacBook in 2024?

Last summer, display analyst Ross Young said it was “looking increasingly likely” that Apple would release a MacBook with an OLED display sometime in 2024.

He said that this would be a 13-inch model, and that it was most likely to be a MacBook Air, but might instead be a MacBook Pro – or even a new plain MacBook. Just a month ago, Young indicated that this plan was still on track.

However, Ming-Chi Kuo has today tweeted that this is not a done deal. The wording of one machine-translated tweet is somewhat confusing, but it does indicate that a 2024 launch is not yet certain.

Apple will also launch the OLED MacBook before the end of 2024 at the earliest. It is expected that driven by Apple, the growth rate of OLED notebook computers is expected to maintain rapid growth in the next few years.

However, Kuo makes the same point later in the thread, after switching to English.

Compared to mini-LED, laptops that use OLEDs have the advantage of being thinner and lighter and offering more diverse form factor design options, like folding, so it has caused Apple to plan to ship the OLED MacBook by the end of 2024 at the earliest .

It should be stressed that the reference to folding designs is in the context of an industry trend towards OLED laptops, and not to Apple specifically. Beyond 2024, Apple is expected to transition additional MacBooks to OLED, and to help drive the trend.

The report follows a Bloomberg one that Apple will start developing its own displays for iPhone and Apple Watch – with the latter beginning the move to microLED next year – although I’ll have a few thoughts to share on this later.

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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