Apple's Third Potential Supplier of Mini-LED Display Chips Hits Certification Hurdle

Apple's search for additional mini-LED display suppliers has hit a speed bump after its primary candidate's latest attempt to pass certification failed, according to a new industry report.

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Apple's 2021 M1-powered 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ was the first Apple product to feature the company's Liquid Retina XDR display with mini-LED, rather than traditional LCD or OLED. Last year also saw redesigned 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models featuring mini-LED displays, and more devices are expected to follow that utilize the newer display technology.

Apple currently uses just two suppliers of mini-LED chips, the main one being Taiwan-based Epistar and the other Germany-based Ams Osram. Epistar intends to expand its already fully utilized chip production capacity to Taiwan and China, while Ams Osram began supplying Apple in the second half of 2021.

China-based LED chipmaker Sanan Optoelectronics was thought to be next in line to pick up Apple's business, with Sanan originally expected to become the third supplier of mini-LED chips for Apple as soon as the fourth quarter of last year.

However, the company is still languishing at the stage of small-volume trial production, according to DigiTimes, with the suggestion being insufficient stability in quality and/or patent issues have been holding the supplier back.

As Apple requires that its supply chain makers have sufficient tech licenses of their own or from others to avoid patent infringement, Sanan's failure to pass certification, besides quality problems, is possibly related to patent issues, the sources suggested.

Sales of Apple's existing mini-LED based products are expected to increase significantly in 2022, and Apple is believed to be working on more products that use mini-LED technology, including a new 27-inch iMac, a redesigned MacBook Air, and potentially refreshed iPads.

Because there are more LEDs and more dimming zones than in cold cathode fluorescent lighting used for LCD panels, mini-LED displays can offer deeper, darker blacks, brighter brights, richer colors, and better contrast because there's more control over what's displayed on the screen with so many LEDs.

Based on rumors, it appears Apple's ultimate plan is to transition much of its iPad and Mac lineup to mini-LED display technology over the next year or two.

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Top Rated Comments

FlyingDutch Avatar
31 months ago
I’m Really really happy that Apple is moving toward mini-LED skipping the OLED technology entirely. I’m looking forward to mini-LED iPhone too…
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
apparatchik Avatar
31 months ago
The screen is one of the many reasons the new MBP’s were priced higher and are in such a short supply, and why the high-end Mac Mini can’t come soon enough for those of us that would like the cpu and gpu power but don’t need all the rest (mini led screen, sound, battery, camera, keyboard, etc.) as we work from a desktop setup.

Surely a 1K-1.2K Mac Mini Pro / Max is not far away.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
enc0re Avatar
31 months ago

No, I’m not.
Micro-LED is not a thing, yet. Surely not ready for mass production.
Mini LED is something I’m already using on my iPad Pro M1.

I’m Really really happy that Apple is moving toward mini-LED skipping the OLED technology entirely. I’m looking forward to mini-LED iPhone too…
Mini LED, which is an LCD, is not a technology that skips over OLED. OLED is better than mini LED for most applications. iPhone will not go from OLED to mini LED. If you want a mini LED iPhone, your best hope is that they release a cheapo model, like an SE, with mini LED. But I doubt even that will happen.

Micro LED will be the successor to OLED from the current looks of it.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
xsdeus Avatar
31 months ago
The market hasn’t used cold cathode fluorescent lighting since at least 20 years ago. The LCD switched to LEDs a long time ago. Micro-LEDs aim to replace OLEDs and LCDs, while Mini-LEDs is just miniaturization of the LEDs in the display backlight

Because there are more LEDs and more dimming zones than in cold cathode fluorescent lighting used for LCD panels, mini-LED displays can offer deeper, darker blacks, brighter brights, richer colors, and better contrast because there's more control over what's displayed on the screen with so many LEDs.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
lukarak Avatar
31 months ago
mini led is a backlight technology, it is still an LCD screen.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
darngooddesign Avatar
31 months ago

Like many, you are confusing micro- and mini-LED. The nomenclature isn't great.
Why do you think they are confusing the two?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)