Apple iPad Pro MiniLED 12.9” visual performance and optical construction analysis
By Piseo —
Do 10,000 MiniLEDs in the Apple iPad Pro 12.9” make a difference compared to Edge-lit tablets?
A unique technical report combining user-based visual performance analysis and an in-depth optical stack teardown.
After several years full of announcements, Mini Light Emitting Diode (LED) backlights are coming to the market. According to the manufacturers’ claims, they will allow Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) to reach contrast performance close to Organic LEDs (OLEDs) while providing high brightness. They also offer reduced power consumption, a very thin form factor and cost/price competitiveness with OLEDs.
After releasing the Pro Display XDR in 2020, Apple released its MiniLED-based iPad Pro 12.9” last year, together with the iPad Pro 11”.
To evaluate the benefits of this new type of backlights, DXOMARK and PISÉO, respectively leaders in the assessment of consumer electronics quality and photonic system architecture, have teamed up to produce this report.
To evaluate the difference of display quality between the two tablets, DXOMARK carried out visual and battery performance measurements. This report presents the test results and the performance comparison.
To understand the technology of the iPad Pro 12.9” backlight, PISÉO has analyzed the optical architecture of the unit. The report includes a description of the six optical films integrated between the MiniLED array and the LCD panel.
Based on their own analyses, DXOMARK and PISÉO have carried out a cross analysis to show the links between the user experience and backlight optical construction.
Approach to analysis
Tests and quality analysis compare the performance of Apple iPad 12.9” Pro Mini-LED LCD and iPad 11” Pro Edge-lit LCD tablets, based on DXOMARK protocol and covering:
- video at high and standard dynamic range (HDR and SDR)
To understand the technology of the iPad Pro 12.9” backlight, PISÉO has analyzed the optical architecture of the unit by:
- disassembling the iPad Pro 12.9” to access the backlight unit
- delayering the optical stack
- analyzing the material and the mechanical structure of each layer
- analyzing the optical properties of each layer
- analyzing the LED emission characteristics and the local dimming features at LED board level
MiniLED displays, and the future microLED displays, are clearly a disruption for the display industry. That is both in terms of performance, as analyzed in this report, but also in terms of supply chain. All the major consumer electronics manufacturers, like Apple, Samsung, TCL and Skyworth, and display device manufacturers are testing the market with new products, and adapting their supply chains. They are also trying to find differentiation in term of design, choices of the right display architecture as well as choice of the right components and modules.
This revolution is revealed by the YOLE Group’s different analysis capabilities. Teardown, supply chain and reverse costing is done by YOLE System Plus. Performance analysis is done by PISÉO. YOLE Intelligence studies company strategies and market evolution. Meanwhile, DXOMARK analyzes the visual performances of the display. Together, they have decided to launch a series of performance analysis reports to cover the most important MiniLED displays available on the market. So, after the iPad pro, we will release studies of the following TVs and monitors later this year:
- Samsung TV MiniLED NEO QLED 65QN900A visual performance and optical construction analysis
- Samsung Monitor MiniLED Odyssey Neo G9 visual performance and optical construction analysis
- TCL 85X925 Pro 85” MiniLED 8K TV visual performance and optical construction analysis
- Skyworth Q72 Smart MiniLED TV visual performance and optical construction analysis
As soon as these reports are available, we will inform you of their content. Step by step we will reveal the design differences of these displays, the supply chain choices, the key suppliers and new technologies implemented. If you want to know more, please contact us.
- BrightView Tech Inc
Measurement and analysis of readability and color performance under different conditions, including ambient lighting, average picture level (APL) and viewing angle.
- Measurement and analysis of brightness, contrast, and halo performance in video high and standard dynamic range (HDR and SDR) formats
- Measurement and analysis of artifacts such as screen reflectance and flicker
- Measurement and analysis of battery linearity and discharge current
- Description of the MiniLED-based backlight unit technology
- Details about LED emission characteristics
- Main characteristics and roles of the different films in the optical stack
- Backlight unit operation when displaying a simple scene
- Provide test results and quality analysis to compare the performance of the Apple iPad 12.9” Pro Mini-LED LCD and iPad 11” Pro Edge-Lit LCD tablets
- Giving insights into the optical architecture and explain how Apple managed the technical challenges
- Showing how the new backlight optical construction contributes to the user experience
- This analysis is intended for display system designers, system architects and marketing teams
Table of content
Objectives of the report
Will MiniLED in display survive to microLED ?
Added value of PISÉO and DXOMARK partnership
Authors of the report
Glossary and acronyms
Companies cited in the report
Synthesis of PISÉO and DXOMARK analysis
- MiniLED BLU principles
- iPad 12.9” characteristics
- iPad 12.9” BLU construction
- iPad 12.9” Performance analysis
- PISÉO and DXOMARK’s opinion
Mini-LED vs LED Edge-lit Display Quality Measurements Results and Protocol Details (by DXOMARK)
- General Overview
- Readability vs Ambient lighting
- Readability vs APL
- Readability vs Angle
- Blue light filter impact
- Readability perceptual
- White Point vs Ambient Lighting
- Gamut vs Ambient Lighting
- Color Fidelity vs Ambient Lighting
- Color vs Angle
- Color uniformity
- Blue light filter impact
- Color perceptual
- Gamma and contrast
- Video perceptual
- Artifacts (Flicker, Reflectance)
Apple iPad Pro MiniLED 12.9” Backlight unit optical construction analysis (by PISÉO)
- Our approach, how do we proceed?
- LCD principle
- LCD challenges
- Global vs Local Dimming
- Overview: local dimming evolution
- Edge vs. Direct configurations
- Direct backlights : Expected Architectures
- Optical Distance
- Apple iPad Pro MiniLED Architecture
- Full Array Local Dimming
- Deep dive in the backlight unit (BLU)
- Blu – iPad Opening
- Blu – display opening