Missing from the new MacBook Air is Apple’s latest laptop display technology. While the larger MacBook Pro machines come with mini-LED, many were expecting the M2-powered Air to follow. If not now, then when? With Apple exploring next-generation display options, will the mini-LED roll down the portfolio in the near future?
Apple currently has two styles of display in the MacBook range. Along with the new design language for the whole range, last year’s 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops were the first to use mini-LED technology. This offers a more vivid range of colors on the screen, deeper blacks which helps increase contrast levels, and reduces the power consumption compared to older display technology.
That older technology can be seen in the entry-level MacBook Pro and MacBook Air. Both continue to use an LED-backlit display with IPS technology. Given Apple’s reluctance to include any more innovation on the cheapest MacBook Pro, the use of the older technology should not come as a surprise. With the new MacBook Air using the latest design language and mirroring the MacBook Pro, many expected that the mini-LED technology would reach the Air. This was not to be, and the older screen remains.
Perhaps Apple is keeping an artificial step in the portfolio… if you want the newer display technology, then you need to spend more money and buy the premium laptops?
If that’s the case, then consumers may have to wait for Apple to develop the next next-generation display technology for the very expensive MacBooks, at which point the mini-LED technology can roll down to the consumer laptops.
Thankfully, Apple is working on what comes next. Display analyst Ross Young has pegged 2024 as the year Apple catches up with other laptop manufacturers to release a MacBook with OLED technology on the screen. These should offer improved contrast, brighter screens, wider viewing angles, and a broader color range. They also have the advantage of variable refresh rates.
Given this month’s announcement of the M2 processor comes two years after the 2020 reveal of the M1 processor, the timeline suggests that the M3 generation will be the first to debut the OLED displays.
And when that happens, perhaps the consumer laptops will finally receive the mini-LED display and all of the advantages they offer over the current IPS displays.