How many mini-LEDs did Apple pack into the iPad Pro?

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blog-details   Teardown Technology      details   Stacy Wegner

How many mini-LEDs did Apple pack into the iPad Pro?

An in-depth look at the Liquid Retina XDR display

Note: this article provides an update to the Displays section of our lengthier article on the TechInsights teardown of the Apple iPad Pro, originally published in April 2021.

There has been a lot of buzz about the new Liquid Retina XDR display in the latest Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch model – and some speculation. Did Apple really pack over 10,000 LEDs into such a small screen?

"During its Spring Loaded event, Apple's Heidi Delgado said that the previous iPad Pro had 72 LEDs, but the new "Liquid Retina XDR" manages to pack in over 10,000 of them. Apple accomplished this by miniaturizing the LEDs to a size "120 times smaller in volume than the previous design."" - The Verge

Of course, we had to know. Read on for our findings...


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About the mini-LED Liquid Retina XDR display

A2378 Pixels

Apple iPad Pro 12.9” A2378 Pixels

The new mini-LED display technology validates LCD technology can still move forward and compete with the OLED displays. Mini-LEDs are physically smaller than backlight LEDs used in the typical LCD. The mini-LED size allows more LEDs (in theory almost 5x more) to be used in a display design, delivering better colors. And even though there are more LEDs in a mini-LED display, mini-LED displays will have better power efficiency than the same LCD.

The iPad Pro 12.9” is the first Apple iPad with a mini-LED display which Apple calls their Liquid Retina XDR display.

Pixels

Apple iPad Pro 12.9” A2014, TFT-LCD 2732 x 2048 Pixels

Pixels

Apple iPad Pro 11 A2068, TFT, 2388 x 1668 Pixels

Because mini-LED displays are the advanced design of LCD technology, a miniLED display subsystem will have many of the same parts seen in a typical LCD assembly. Below, we can see the iPad Pro mini-LED display looks similar to that of an LCD assembly, with diffusing panels, transmissive sheets, etc.

However, a mini-LED display has thousands of ‘miniLEDs’ designed into a backlight sheet component. The mini-LEDs are further grouped into dimming zones which control the light level for the pixels.

Apple iPad Pro A2378, miniLED Display Subsystem Disassembled

Apple iPad Pro A2378, miniLED Display Subsystem Disassembled

Apple iPad Pro A2378, miniLED Display Subsystem - Backlight Sheet

Apple iPad Pro A2378, miniLED Display Subsystem - Backlight Sheet

On the Apple iPad Pro 12.9″ display backlight sheet, we counted 10,384 mini-LEDs grouped into 2596 dimming zones. The mini-LEDs each measured 0.2 mm x 0.2mm, and are supported by 9 STMicroelectronics components.

We continue to research the new STMicroelectronics components to confirm they are the active matrix LED drivers.


What’s Next?

Our analysis of various components inside the iPad Pro is ongoing.

The mini-LED display market is still in its infancy for the consumer market. Once TechInsights has completed the Deep Dive Teardown and analyzed the entire Display subsystem, we will have a better understanding as to how the new iPad Pro mini-LED display’s cost compares to the the $116 display costs from the 2019 iPad Pro 12.9”, as well as how the new 12.9” mini-LED display compares to this year’s iPad Pro 11 which still uses LCD technology.


TechInsights has its Preliminary Cost Estimate and Design Win Analysis Available

Sign up to receive an exclusive look into what we have found on the Apple iPad Pro

Tags:  Apple iPad Pro    LED    teardown  

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