2024 OLED iPad Pro
Representational Image

OLED iPad Pro 2024: Everything We Know So Far

The new iPad Pro with OLED may start at 1500$

We’ve all seen the painfully slow pace at which Apple is trying to make iPads appeal to an audience that wants laptops. A few years ago, Apple ran several marketing campaigns that basically advertised iPads as laptop replacements.

iPad sales are going well, but iPadOS still remains a major bottleneck to productivity. It’s still a touch-first UI, which has UX elements upscaled in size from iOS to fit a larger screen better.

Sure, it offers split-screen multitasking, floating windows, and stage manager on a couple of models. But the core experience from iOS remains largely similar, and it’s not ready enough to replace laptops for a lot of people.

Since iPads are the best-selling tablets, developers spend time optimising apps for them. Pro apps like LumaFusion, Photoshop, Pro Create, Infinity Painter, Premiere Rush, Garage Band, etc., make it an excellent tool for amateur graphic designers.

The M1 and M2 chips are ludicrously powerful, so you won’t face any hiccups at all with video editing.

There are special pro apps for sound engineers, and a lot of people edit photos on their iPads. It’s a professional tool for many people, except for programmers, web designers, and hardcore video editors.

iPadOS still doesn’t have a proper calculator app or better Pro apps that make some actual use of the performance, like Final Cut Pro, Logic Pro, or X Code. Swift Playgrounds simply isn’t enough.

Considering the new models in 2024 are rumoured to have state-of-the-art OLED screens, we expect massive software improvements to take the productivity of iPad users to the next level.

This article will elaborate on the existing lineup, why there’s a need for Apple to make the iPad lineup better overall, and what the price and release date of these new models could be.

The current iPad lineup

In an effort to offer multiple iPads at multiple price points, the iPad lineup is really convoluting to navigate at the time of writing.

Apple’s recent ideas with the iPad and Mac are heavily profit-driven. They’re still selling the MacBook Air M1 and the base-line iPad (Gen 9) for the same prices from two years ago.

Product manufacturing costs fall over time, and companies usually reduce the prices after such periods. Apple drops the prices for the base iPhones too. The iPhone 13 sells for 699$ now, and the launch price was 799$.

However, the iPad 9th gen still sells for 329$, and the MacBook Air M1 sells for 999$. The newer versions, the 10th gen iPad and the M2 MacBook are much more expensive.

ipad looks
Image Shows iPad 10 Gen (2022)

The 10th gen iPad is not the best value at the new starting price, which is a whopping 449$. You got a new design and a USB-C port, but it still supports the first-gen Apple pencil, and it’s rather silly that you have to use a dongle to charge it.

The iPad Mini with the A14 Bionic chip still sells for 499$, and the iPad Air with the overkill M1 chip sells for 599$. Until now, all of these iPads start at a terrible 64GB of storage, which was probably not enough even in 2015.

The Pro lineup thankfully starts at 128GB storage with the M2 chip and 120Hz at 799$, and the 11″ iPad Pro is actually fairly decent value for money. 128GB for a power user is still lacklustre but better than 64.

If the new OLED iPads end up costing 1500$, they should at least have 256GB of storage on the base model.

What’s the point of an OLED iPad?

Instead of moving to OLED panels as Samsung did a long time ago with the Galaxy Tab S5E, Apple has been rather stubborn and insistent on LCD panels.

It’s probably because they’re afraid of the problems OLED could pose on larger screens, but it’s not like the LCDs they use are flawless. There are many reports of blooming on the MiniLED models and jelly scrolling on all of the models.

Apple probably wanted to give MiniLED a try for a couple of years before moving to OLED. It’s highly unlikely that consumers are finding faults with the excellent MiniLED panel on the 12.9″ iPad Pro.

If they sort out the blooming issues, the current iPad Pro doesn’t really have a problem with the panel. Pushing the price to over 1500$ is a severe overestimation of how much people want to spend on iPads.

Most people will be better off with a cheaper and refurbished M1 or M2 iPad Pro. Both will still receive plenty of updates, and the chips are more than powerful enough to last for years.

Expected Hardware Specifications

Existing iPad Pro models already ship with 8GB RAM and 16GB RAM for higher storage options. That’s as much RAM as most laptops. The amount of physical RAM is plenty, but iPadOS aggressively limits background processes, so there’s not much use for it.

Since the price jump is so massive, we expect at least 256GB on the base storage model, matching the MacBooks at the price range.

The existing M2 chips are very capable and, frankly, unnecessary on the iPad. There are rumours of the M3 chip using TSMC’s new 3nm processing, which will push the performance even further.

You may not notice too many improvements in daily use, but you’ll see substantial improvements to gaming performance. Heavy titles like Genshin will run miles better on a chip that’s more efficient.

3nm fabrication will improve the effectiveness of communication between internal components, and this results in overall thermal management. Media engines and clock speeds are general improvements that come with a new chip.

Analysts expect a 15% power improvement with 30% gains in efficiency with 3nm fabrication. There were some unprecedented delays due to the yield rate.

What do existing iPads use?

With existing iPad models, Apple is using LCD technology. LCDs use flat screens with liquid crystals and don’t emit any light. They rely on a backlight or reflector to display colour.

The 12.9″ iPad Pro (2021 onwards) uses nearly ten thousand MiniLEDs. The backlight is made of LEDs in typical LCD panels, but MiniLED panels have better illumination/ brightness and contrast levels.

Since these MiniLEDs support local dimming, the iPad Pro 12.9″ display is one of the best for High Dynamic Range content. MiniLED screens offer sharper images and much deeper blacks and darker colours. The vibrancy is better too.

MiniLED is a significant improvement over a traditional IPS panel. However, it’s not as good as Samsung’s cutting-edge OLED displays on the S8+ and S8 Ultra.

OLED screens still have a much better contrast ratio and true-to-life dark black. They are way more efficient. OLED screens also have a faster response time.

This makes them suitable for content consumption and gives you a better multimedia experience. However, Apple is always late to adopt OLED tech. The iPhone X was the first iPhone with an OLED panel in 2017.

All currently sold iPads except the 9th and 10th gen vanilla iPads have display lamination. Those models don’t have lamination, so the colours lack contrast and appear washed out. The touch response is also not good, and these panels are prone to jelly scrolling.

When did Apple move to OLED first?

The first Apple product with OLED was the original Apple Watch in 2014. If you’re wondering why Apple was hesitant and slow to adopt OLED, it’s probably because of Quality Control issues.

Several batches of OLED panels yearly suffer from problems with purple haze and contrast, off-axis rainbowing effect, poor viewing angles, a blue shift, random green lines, or weird grey/ green tint issues in low light.

If you put those aside, OLED panels still aren’t as reliable, especially on larger screens, due to burn-in problems. However, Samsung’s tablets are doing just fine. Galaxy Books use OLED panels with no such large-scale burn-in issues.

Trying a different approach for the iPad, Apple went in with MiniLED technology. Unfortunately, MiniLED panels have severe blooming issues.

It’s very apparent in dark scenes or images. Tiny LEDs that control the backlight might go off-array, creating a haze or glow on the screen when displaying bright subjects.

Another problem with MiniLED is light spilling into neighbouring screen areas, interrupting the viewing experience. Backlight bleeding is a widespread problem.

OLED iPad Pro Expected Price

Hence, it’s interesting that Apple is considering OLED panels for the upcoming iPad Pro models. According to The Elec, the new OLED iPads will start at 1500$ and 1800$ for the 11″ and 12.9″ models, respectively.

That is a considerable price bump from the existing 799$ for the 11″ and 1099$ for the 12.9″ model.

The iPhone X didn’t have such a radical price bump despite featuring the first OLED on an iPhone. It only started at 200$ more than the previous year’s flagship iPhone. 1500$ is breaching the price of the M2 MacBook Pros and some variants of the MacBook Air M2.

Initial critical response is somewhat divisive, but it isn’t easy to justify such a high starting price when the Galaxy Tab S8+ starts at under 1000$. OLED isn’t a reason to price the product that high, and it’ll undoubtedly affect sales figures.

The major suppliers are probably Samsung, BOE, and LG. We could see OLED MacBook in 2024, further making the 1500$ tag questionable if it’s accurate.

The panel specifications Apple wants to use for the iPad could be cutting-edge, with high brightness and resolutions. We expect LTPO hybrid-OLED with a high refresh rate.

The panels may cost upwards of 350$. It’s nearly 100-150$ for regular off-the-shelf panels. The main reason for this drastic price bump could be the cost of OLED panels from the suppliers.

When can we expect the OLED iPad Pro to be released?

  • The OLED iPad Pro will likely be released in March 2024 at the Spring event.

Reportedly, Apple is working on 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models with OLED displays, which are expected to be announced in the first quarter of 2024.

Who is the new iPad Pro for?

To those looking for a laptop, the MacBook Air or MacBook Pro models are much better. They run a full-fledged desktop operating system and are far better for programmers.

macOS has support for several tools like Logic Pro, X Code, and Android Studio. MacBooks are ideal for web designers and programmers. However, if your workflow involves the use of a lot of touch inputs, the iPad Pro will suit it better.

The iPad Pro will still remain a stellar choice for extreme gamers. Multimedia, content consumption, video and photo editing, and digital art are still selling points if your workflow revolves around those.

Picking between an iPad Pro or a laptop strictly depends on personal requirements, but most people will find the MacBook better for overall use.

ipad lineup
The image shows iPad 10th Gen

iPad Pro 2024: What we’d like to see

The software could do with more pro apps, like X Code or more powerful video editing and graphic design software. When you plug in a magic keyboard, the UI is still not as good as an actual laptop OS.

Moreover, the iPadOS 16 version was very buggy, and the battery life of a lot of people took a hit. The new multitasking feature, Stage Manager, was not up to the mark either. It wasn’t a major shift in iPadOS multitasking.

We’d like to see better screens and a better, more consistent software experience overall with fewer bugs.

Using Centre Stage, the iPad Pro’s Ultra Wide front camera recognises faces and automatically shifts angles. However, Apple dropped the front camera with the normal FOV, and normal selfies are just digital crop-ins.

This results in mediocre to below-average front camera performance, which they can easily address.

The new 10th Gen iPad has a landscape front camera, which is a better position for it. The Pro iPads have no such luck, but we expect them to move next year. There were some rumours of a new four-pin connector too.

Earlier, there were some rumours that Apple would add a notch, MagSafe charging, and also reverse wireless charging to the iPad Pro. None of them came true with the 2022 iPads, but they’re up there on the wishlist for 2024.

Will Apple ever let us run macOS on the iPad?

Before the M2 iPad Pros hit the market, there were a lot of rumours about a simplified version of macOS coming exclusively to iPads with M series SOCs.

It didn’t come true, and all we got was the Stage Manager feature. It did introduce better multitasking for the iPad, but it’s nowhere near a proper macOS experience.

But bringing the complete macOS experience will effectively turn the iPads into touchscreen MacBooks, and this will severely affect their business model. Hence, it’s not very likely in the near future unless the macOS version is heavily stripped down.

Conclusion

Since Apple won’t save costs and use a cheap panel, they’re planning to go all-out with an extremely bright OLED display that rivals the best from Samsung.

Apple typically pays a cut to Dolby to secure the Dolby Vision HDR standard on some of their iPhones, iPads, and Macs, so we can expect the 2024 iPad Pro to have this compatibility too.

Dolby Vision is a better standard than HDR10+ since content plays with 12-bit colours, downsampled to 10-bit. HDR10+ plays 10-bit content directly, and the colour upscale definitely enables a better multimedia experience.

Regardless, assuming the leaks are true, 1500$ for an iPad is absolutely not justifiable. MiniLED MacBooks offer much better overall functionality and performance.

The point of iPads is to enable multitasking on a touchscreen device. It’s popular among students for PDFs and notes and is also great for gaming and multimedia. For professionals, the optimisation of Pro apps is a key selling point.

These advantages only hold good since the 799$ price is highly competitive and also arguably worth it. But pricing it at 1500$ will wreck the value proposition, and a lot could easily migrate to competing products like Samsung’s upcoming Tab S9 series.

There’s no chance of Apple using an M2 Pro chip in there since it draws too much power and needs a better heat dissipation system to remain cool without bottlenecking performance.

The extremely thin chassis of iPads does not functionally permit the use of such a high-performance chip, but it doesn’t matter since you already can’t utilise the full potential of M2 on the existing Pro models.

Note: We’ll keep updating this live article with the latest news about the OLED iPad Pro.

About Sudhanshu

Sudhanshu is a tech writer at DealNTech. He is a tech enthusiast who loves experimenting with the latest technology, enjoys writing content, and is also an audiophile. He is interested in graphic design, photography and semiconductors. He has a perspective on tech from a business perspective.

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