27 October 2021
Shipment of notebooks with mini-LED backlighting to reach 5 million in 2022
Apple recently unveiled its newest lineup of 14.2-inch and 16.2-inch MacBook Pros, which represent its latest effort to extend its application of display backlights with mini-LED technology from the 12.9-inch iPad Pro to the MacBook Pro range. In light of Apple’s foray into the high-end notebook computer market with the latest generation of MacBook Pro, annual shipment of notebook computers equipped with mini-LED backlight for 2022 will likely rise by 213% year-on-year to 5 million units, reckons TrendForce.
The market research firm notes that, due to OLED supplier Samsung’s aggressive efforts to capture share in the notebook market this year, annual shipment of notebooks with organic light-emitting diode (OLED) panels for 2021 will likely reach 2.5-2.7 million units, which represents a penetration rate of about 1.1%. OLED displays compete directly with mini-LED displays in the high-end notebook market, so the adoption of mini-LED displays by non-Apple notebook manufacturers has consistently been limited. In addition, Apple waited until fourth-quarter 2021 to release the new MacBook Pro models. Taking these factors into account, TrendForce is therefore reducing its forecast of annual shipment of notebooks with mini-LED backlighting for 2021 from 2.4 million units to 1.65 million units.
TrendForce indicates that Apple’s product planning regarding the newest MacBook Pro lineup marks a departure from its previous strategy of having only a 13.3-inch model for the entry-level segment and a 16.2-inch model for the high-end segment, since the newest 14.2-inch MacBook is positioned as a product for the mid-range segment. Regarding pricing, the 14.2-inch model at base configuration costs $500 more than the 13.3-inch model and $500 less than the 16.2-inch model, assuming all aforementioned models are equipped with a 512GB SSD. Regarding technical specs, not only do the new models feature an improvement in CPU/GPU, but their backlight has also been upgraded to mini-LED technology. With these advances in both computing power and display performance, Apple will likely be able to erase any doubts from consumers regarding the merit of the price hike, reckons TrendForce.
Both of the new MacBook Pro models are equipped with a mini-LED backlight, with 8000-11,000 mini-LED chips divided across 2000-2600 local dimming zones, resulting in a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio. Mainstream mini-LED backlight-equipped notebooks from other manufacturers, on the other hand, generally feature about 240-512 local dimming zones, showing Apple’s relative superiority in display technology. Furthermore, despite being a step up in terms of display size from the 13.3-inch model, the 14.4-inch model maintains a similar thin and light profile even though it contains a direct-lit mini-LED backlight, which requires additional clearance for light mixing and additional PCB substrate thickness.
Along with Apple’s continued adoption of mini-LED backlight technology, a plethora of new participants are expected to enter the mini-LED supply chain in 2022, in turn making this technology much more cost-effective and benefitting companies that are not part of Apple’s supply chain as well. Companies that are set to benefit next year include mini-LED chip suppliers (e.g. Ennostar and Osram), testing and sorting service providers (e.g. FitTech, Saultech, and YTEC), SMT suppliers (e.g. TSMT and Yenrich), backplane PCB suppliers (e.g. Zhen Ding Tech, Tripod Technology, and Apex), driver IC suppliers (e.g. Parade, TI, Novatek, and Macroblock), light source module suppliers (e.g. Radiant/ROE and GIS), and OEMs (e.g. Quanta and Foxconn), concludes TrendForce.