- Apple is rumoured to use a new type of screen called “mini LED” for its next 16-inch MacBook Pro and 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
- Mini LED screens are basically updated versions of the traditional LCD screens that we’ve been using for over a decade in TVs, monitors, smartphones, and anything else with a screen.
- Mini LED screens are said to offer nearly the same performance as premium OLED screens, but without the risk of OLED “burn-in,” where on-screen items can permanently burned into the screen if they’re displayed for too long.
- While the prospect of mini LED screens in Apple devices is exciting, it’s not a guarantee, as it’s still in the rumour stage.
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Apple’s next 16-inch MacBook Pro is rumoured to sport a “mini LED” display that could come close to the gold-standard in screen technology, OLED, and also prevent one of OLED’s biggest shortcomings.
Up until now, Apple has been using traditional LCD screens for its laptops with “Retina” displays, and it’s amazing how good they look with that traditional technology. With mini LED technology, Apple’s laptop displays would look even better.
Mini LED screens are essentially an updated version of today’s traditional LCD screens – both technologies use a panel of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to shine through a layer of liquid crystal, which make up the colours you see on a video you’re watching.
The main difference here is that mini LED screens have more LEDs in that backlight panel that are smaller and packed tighter together to shine through the layer of liquid crystal. With those extra, tightly packed LEDs, and with good local dimming control, a mini LED TV can do a better job of shining bright for the bright parts of a video scene, while dimming down for the darker parts of the scene.
In a sentence, it means better contrast between light and dark parts of a video scene, as well as deeper renditions of the colour black, which just so happens to be one of the main attractions of premium and expensive OLED screens.
Mini LED screens are already being introduced for recent TVs, like the TCL 8-series TVs, which are positively reviewed for their contrast, HDR performance, and brightness.
It’s not exactly clear whether mini LED screens are more cost-efficient than OLED screens. Some say mini LED screens are cheaper; others say they cost about the same. But there is one good reason why Apple would pick a mini LED screen over an OLED screen for its upcoming 16-inch MacBook Pros: burn-in.
Mini LED screens are immune to burn-in, which happens when there are details being displayed on your OLED screen that can be permanently “burned” into the screen if they’re displayed for too long. That burned-in detail remains visible no matter what you watch.
Below, respected screen tech outlet Rtings shows what happens when you play a single channel (CNN, in this case) for an entire year on an OLED TV. The CNN symbol is permanently burnt into the display, as well as some banners towards the bottom of the screen. There’s even a silhouette of news anchors in the middle:
That’s a major reason why most laptop makers haven’t adopted OLED display. If the dock on your macOS laptop is constantly showing at the bottom of an OLED screen, for instance, the dock could eventually become burned into an OLED screen to the point that you’ll see a shadow of the dock, even if you play a video full-screen.
With all this said, Apple using mini LED screens in its upcoming devices is still just a rumour at this stage. There’s no guarantee at all that the next 16-inch MacBook Pro or 12.9-inch iPad Pro will come with mini LED screens, but here’s hoping.
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