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iPad Air 5 killer upgrade just shot down by new report

iPad Air 5 rumors
(Image credit: Apple)

Looks like we might not see an OLED-equipped iPad Air until at least 2023, meaning the rumored iPad Air 5 could still pack an LCD screen. 

That's according to a new report from The Elec, which claims Apple ditched plans to work with Samsung Display on an OLED panel for the next iPad Air. Previous leaks had hinted that Apple would finally launch an OLED tablet in 2022, but The Elec says the project has been shelved due to differences of opinion over how it should be built. 

The Elec's report cites "people familiar with the matter," and says the partnership with Samsung Display was "stopped due to either the single stack structure of OLED panel or profitability issues or both." 

The term "single stack" refers to a commonly used structure for many OLED panels, in which the red, green and blue pixels are stacked to form one emission layer. 

However, Apple supposedly wanted the iPad Air's OLED panel to be made using a two-stack tandem structure, in which two red, green and blue pixels were used. As well as theoretically doubling the brightness levels, that would also prolong the panel's lifespan by four times.

Samsung reportedly pushed back against the request, making that point that it had only commercialized single-stack OLED panels so far. 

"Unless the company can be certain that the 10.86-inch OLED iPad will be sold for a long time, preparing for the back-end module process for the products can be costly for the South Korean company," the source stated. 

LG Display is apparently a possible alternative supplier, in that it already produces OLED panels with a two-stack tandem structure. But, The Elec says, it has a relatively small production capacity, making it unlikely.

All of which means that if the iPad Air 5 does launch next year, it likely won't be sporting an OLED panel. The source claims that the earliest that we could see an OLED-equipped iPad would be 2023, but that it could even take until 2024. 

Regardless, according to the previous reports, the next iPad Air could still have the potential to rival some of the best tablets on the market right now. 

A few months ago, we reported that the iPad Air 5 could pack iPad Pro-like features, including an upgraded dual-camera system, 5G connectivity and a LiDAR scanner. It's also rumored to be powered by the A15 Bionic chip, which is seen in the current iPhone 13 lineup. 

Want more info? Be sure to visit our iPad Air 5 hub to read up on all the latest rumors and leaks.

Denise is a news writer at Tom’s Guide covering all things tech, gaming software/hardware, streaming, and more. She regularly produces short-form news articles as well as long-form content, including reviews, buying guides, how-tos, and features. When she's not live-streaming horror games on Twitch, she can be found exploring East London while playing Pokemon Go. She’s also a part-time piano enthusiast and regularly experiments in the kitchen. You can reach her at [email protected].