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The new iPad Pro and Surface Pro prove that OLED displays are the future

Sorry, LCD, LED, mini-LED, QLED, and every other version of panels that used traditional backlighting. You’ve tried to convince us for years that you could be just as good as OLED, but Apple and Microsoft’s latest products prove that OLED is the pinnacle of display technology.

Last week, Apple hosted its “Let Loose” event and announced a new iPad Pro and iPad Air as well as its new Apple Pencil Pro and next-generation Magic Keyboard. In addition, the company announced new versions of Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro.

While the iPad Pro received plenty of upgrades, including the new M4 processor and the fact that it’s the thinnest product Apple has ever created, the biggest announcement was that the new iPad Pro comes packed with the Ultra Retina XDR display—the first OLED display on an iPad.

The Ultra Retina XDR display features state-of-the-art tandem OLED technology that uses two OLED panels and combines the light from both to provide phenomenal full-screen brightness. The new iPad Pro supports an incredible 1000 nits of full-screen brightness for SDR and HDR content, and 1600 nits peak for HDR. No other device of its kind delivers this level of extreme dynamic range. Tandem OLED technology enables sub-millisecond control over the color and luminance of each pixel, taking XDR precision further than ever. 

M4 iPad Pro docked in the new Magic KeyboardM4 iPad Pro docked in the new Magic Keyboard Image source: Apple Inc.

Less than two weeks after Apple’s event, Microsoft has done the exact same thing with its Surface Pro. At an event on Monday, the company unveiled the next generation of the Surface Pro packed with — you guessed it — an OLED display. While the company hasn’t dove into all of the specs for the display, we do know that it supports HDR and features a million-to-one contrast ratio. We don’t know what kind of regular and peak brightness to expect yet, though.

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The new Surface Pro is the most flexible 2-in-1 laptop, now reimagined with more speed and battery life to power all-new AI experiences. It introduces a new, optional OLED with HDR display, and ultrawide field of view camera perfect for Windows Studio Effects. The new Surface Pro Flex Keyboard is the first 2-in-1 keyboard designed to be used both attached or detached. It delivers enhanced stability, with Surface Slim Pen storage and charging integrated seamlessly, as well as a quiet, haptic touchpad.

Despite those missing details, both the iPad Pro and Surface Pro will now be able to showcase true black colors — something that is still only a dream for any traditional backlit panels like they both used before. The displays will also display perfect contrast and incredible color saturation.

We’re almost there, people. With OLED descending from the television and into our phones and now our tablets, we are so close to it permeating every device we use for our day to day lives. I’d love to live in a world where my iPad mini and my MacBook Air use an OLED display. Apple has even already reported abandoned its plans to bring mini-LED to the Apple Watch. Try as they may, they realized that they already had the perfect technology on that watch: OLED.

The new Microsoft Surface Laptop and Surface Pro.

While these displays are reserved for Apple and Microsoft’s “Pro” tablets, for now, OLED is already on the regular iPhone and hoards of Android phones. So, while it may be a pro feature for now on tablets and laptops, it won’t always be that way. Someone will make it standard on its base models, and then — BAM — everyone will rush to compete.

It’s only a matter of time now. The days of the backlit LCD are numbered, and OLED is the future.

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