iPad Air Retina display has fewer backlights, costs more than Apple's previous models

Posted:
in iPad edited January 2014
The high-resolution Retina display found in Apple's fifth-generation iPad Air is more efficient, accomplishing the same level of brightness with less than half as many LED lights, according to a new teardown analysis.

IHS


Details and estimates on the components Apple uses in the iPad Air have been shared by research firm IHS to AllThingsD, which published the information on Tuesday. IHS estimates that the total cost for Apple's low-end, 16-gigabyte, Wi-Fi-only iPad Air is $274, which is $42 cheaper than the company's third-generation iPad is estimated to have cost the company to build.

Though the iPad Air is estimated to be cheaper to build, some components came with higher costs --?namely the 9.7-inch Retina display. While in the previous two generations, Apple relied on 84 LED lights for screen brightness, Apple is now said to be achieving that brightness more efficiently with just 36 LED lights.

Those lights may be brighter, but Apple is also said to be using optical film layers that distribute light across the display, according to Andrew Rassweiler, analyst with IHS. The use of these thin layers allows Apple to use fewer LEDs, which reduces device weight and power needs. The iPad Air shaves nearly a half-pound off its predecessors, coming in at just 1 pound.While the third- and fourth-generation iPad displays used 84 LED lights, the iPad Air reportedly uses just 36 LEDs.

IHS also told AllThingsD it estimates that the display and touchscreen assembly in the iPad Air now have a cost of about $133 to Apple, $90 of which is for the display alone. That's said to cost a great deal more than before, suggesting Apple managed to save significantly on other components to reduce overall costs.

Other discoveries made in the IHS teardown:
  • While previous iPad models used two panes of glass, the iPad Air uses just one, reducing thickness.
  • Apple's A7 chip is estimated to cost $18, which would be $5 less per unit than the A5 was estimated to cost a year and a half ago.
  • The iPad Air's LTE chip can support all U.S. wireless carriers, unlike the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c.
  • IHS estimates Apple achieves 45 percent gross margin with the 16-gigabyte Wi-Fi-only iPad Air, going up to 61 percent on the maxed-out 128-gigabyte LTE-capable version.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 57
    jusephejusephe Posts: 108member
    IGZO display ?
  • Reply 2 of 57
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,221member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jusephe View Post



    IGZO display ?

     

    it sure sounds like it.

     

    I was pretty sure they went IGZO on the mini, was not so sure on the air.  But half the leds, same resolution, sounds like IGZO to me, or another tech that does the same thing.

  • Reply 3 of 57
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    IHS also told AllThingsD it estimates that the display and touchscreen assembly in the iPad Air now have a cost of about $133 to Apple, $90 of which is for the display alone. That's said to cost a great deal more than before, suggesting Apple managed to save significantly on other components to reduce overall costs.

     

     

    So the display is very expensive, the batteries are expensive and the external case is expensive compared to the iPhone yet Apple are able to sell the iPad, and make good margin, cheaper than the iPhone - and people claim the iPhone isn't overpriced.

  • Reply 4 of 57
    neilmneilm Posts: 586member

    Another AI article cites a different third party analysis that says the iPad Air's panel is indeed IGZO.

     

    I took delivery of a new iPad Air for an office user yesterday. Without another retina display to compare it's hard to be sure whether there are are visible differences with the IGZO display, but I'm inclined to think not. The screen improvements seem to be under the hood.

     

    What is immediately noticeable is the reduced case size and weight compared to my own iPad 2. For me the iPad Mini suddenly looks a lot less alluring; for the modest extra weight and bulk I'd rather have the Air's full size screen. That choice will of course play out differently for people depending on their usage and priorities; it's nice to have both options.

  • Reply 5 of 57
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,221member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ScartArt View Post

     

     

    So the display is very expensive, the batteries are expensive and the external case is expensive compared to the iPhone yet Apple are able to sell the iPad, and make good margin, cheaper than the iPhone - and people claim the iPhone isn't overpriced.


     

    The 5s estimated cost is around $215.  iphones have always been the highest margin product.  If Apple can rise its margins on ipads, they could potentially lower there iphone margins in the future. 

     

    That being said, other manufacturers high end phones are often more expensive than iphones, thanks to "through everything we can in the box and hope for the best" mentality. Android phones are often pack with unnessesary specs, like too much memory, high clock rate CPU's, huge battery that results in less battery times than iphones and very high pixel density screens.  All of the those "specs" are a complete waste of power and manufacturing cost. Margins are lower, but user experience is not improved at all, they just try to do the same thing the iphone does, but with brute force instead of finest.

     

    ipod margins should improve also since there was no refresh.

  • Reply 6 of 57
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by NeilM View Post

     

    Another AI article cites another third party analysis that says the iPad Air's panel is indeed IGZO.


    It does seem that way, however looking at the Amazon Kindle Fire article is looks like LTPS would be the technology to go for.

  • Reply 7 of 57
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member
    Somebody correct me if I am mistaken, but I do not think the amount of LED lights have anything to do with resolution. Resolution is dependent on how many pixels are squeezed into the display. This has not changed. All that is changed is the number of LEDs that are used from behind the display to illuminate the pixels (the backlighting). It seems here that Apple has been able to lower the amount of LEDs needed by using optical film to spread the light from fewer LEDs thereby accomplishing the task previously done by more LEDs.

    I also do not think the optical film layer mentioned is IGZO (that is not to say, Apple isn't using that technology). Again unless I am mistaken, IGZO has to do with the transistors used to carry information to the pixels, and nothing to do with backlighting which seems to be the focus of this article (the reduced number of LED backlights).
  • Reply 8 of 57
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member

    Half as many backlights in one year? I'd image it runs much cooler, so. This display tech is evolving on a yearly basis. That's crazy when you think about it. And chips, too. I only wish batteries had a similar evolution rate. When are we going to get graphene batteries: capable or rehanging from 0-100% in 2 minutes. Sounds like science fiction? Get ready, should be common place within 20 years, but hopefully sooner.

  • Reply 9 of 57
    herbapouherbapou Posts: 2,221member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TBell View Post



    Somebody correct me if I am mistaken, but I do not think the amount of LED lights have anything to do with resolution. Resolution is dependent on how many pixels are squeezed into the display. This has not changed. All that is changed is the number of LEDs that are used from behind the display to illuminate the pixels (the backlighting). It seems here that Apple has been able to lower the amount of LEDs needed by using optical film to spread the light from fewer LEDs thereby accomplishing the task previously done by more LEDs.



    I also do not think the optical film layer mentioned is IGZO (that is not to say, Apple isn't using that technology). Again unless I am mistaken, IGZO has to do with the transistors used to carry information to the pixels, and nothing to do with backlighting which seems to be the focus of this article (the reduced number of LED backlights).

     

    Resolution and leds are directly releated, thats the hole point of IGZO, to reduce the led and to change to way the screen is refresh. But I think its possible to do it without IGZO, so that screen may not be IGZO. Would be nice if someone could confirm it.

  • Reply 10 of 57
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by TBell View Post



    Somebody correct me if I am mistaken, but I do not think the amount of LED lights have anything to do with resolution. Resolution is dependent on how many pixels are squeezed into the display. This has not changed. All that is changed is the number of LEDs that are used from behind the display to illuminate the pixels (the backlighting). It seems here that Apple has been able to lower the amount of LEDs needed by using optical film to spread the light from fewer LEDs thereby accomplishing the task previously done by more LEDs.



    I also do not think the optical film layer mentioned is IGZO (that is not to say, Apple isn't using that technology). Again unless I am mistaken, IGZO has to do with the transistors used to carry information to the pixels, and nothing to do with backlighting which seems to be the focus of this article (the reduced number of LED backlights).

    Agreed and piling on....

     

    Fewer/brighter LEDs also can mean that they have found a more efficient LED on the power curve.  Rule of thumb:  1 bulb of 2X wattage is brighter than 2 bulbs of 1X wattage (more efficient), but diffusing that light then dampens the gain (less effective).   A better back coating for diffusion and a more efficient LED would mean less net wattage necessary for the same percieved brightness, and therefore less power demand (smaller battery).

  • Reply 11 of 57
    Uh... The title should say the iPad Air costs less than previous models.
  • Reply 12 of 57
    scartart wrote: »
    So the display is very expensive, the batteries are expensive and the external case is expensive compared to the iPhone yet Apple are able to sell the iPad, and make good margin, cheaper than the iPhone - and people claim the iPhone isn't overpriced.

    One of the big elements of pricing is supply and demand. The iPad Air "ships within 24 hours" while the 5s still "ships within 2-3 weeks" one big question a company asks is "If I am selling all I can make at a given price, why should I sell for less?"
  • Reply 13 of 57
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ravenas View Post



    Uh... The title should say the iPad Air costs less than previous models.

    But the title doesn't...

     

    The article is about the display. Therefore, the title is correct. The overall package is less expensive, but the display, as the title suggests, costs more than the previous model. 

  • Reply 14 of 57
    hydrhydr Posts: 146member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by herbapou View Post

     

     

    The 5s estimated cost is around $215.  iphones have always been the highest margin product.  If Apple can rise its margins on ipads, they could potentially lower there iphone margins in the future. 

     

    That being said, other manufacturers high end phones are often more expensive than iphones, thanks to "through everything we can in the box and hope for the best" mentality. Android phones are often pack with unnessesary specs, like too much memory, high clock rate CPU's, huge battery that results in less battery times than iphones and very high pixel density screens.  All of the those "specs" are a complete waste of power and manufacturing cost. Margins are lower, but user experience is not improved at all, they just try to do the same thing the iphone does, but with brute force instead of finest.

     

    ipod margins should improve also since there was no refresh.


     

    What people forget to realise is that Apple has a supply issue, not a demand issue. They can only produce xx million of the devices per year, and it´s increasing by roughly the same amount as they are selling. They can obtain high margins on their products, and still sell all they can make. 5C/5S/iPad Air/Mini Retina are all produced at a lower cost and better yield. They are profiting plain and simple. 

     

    No need to lower profits at this point, keep increasing them as long as there is enough demand. Once the demand wears off it´s time to lower prices and margins. 

     

    Apple supply rate is now up to 75million devices per quarter. That is very impressive. The fact that they can make such a great profit is just a bonus. 

  • Reply 15 of 57
    512ke512ke Posts: 782member
    The All Things D headline says the iPad Air costs less to build that the previous generation iPad.

    Their conclusion was that Apple will benefit from the lower overall build cost even though the new display is costlier. The overall cost to build is less.

    Yet AI chose to use a headline suggesting negatives for Apple.

    Now AI's article will be cited by others and spread misinformation about Apple.

    The real story is good for Apple. Big sales. Higher margins on iPads.

    Why use a misleading headline that harms Apple, AI?
  • Reply 16 of 57
    but..but....making stuff thinner isn't innovation!!
    adding GBs of bloatware that never works is!!
    apple iz doomezd
  • Reply 17 of 57
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,780member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

     

    Half as many backlights in one year? I'd image it runs much cooler, so. This display tech is evolving on a yearly basis. That's crazy when you think about it. And chips, too. I only wish batteries had a similar evolution rate. When are we going to get graphene batteries: capable or rehanging from 0-100% in 2 minutes. Sounds like science fiction? Get ready, should be common place within 20 years, but hopefully sooner.


     

    Like the elusive fusion reactor that is always on the horizon to solve all our energy needs, revolutionary battery technology is always standing right next to that fusion reactor. It’s coming, it’s coming, but the date keeps getting pushed out. A hundred years after the phonograph and we still have vibrating paper cones to get that fancy digital music to our analog ears.

  • Reply 18 of 57
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,509member
    And like [B]sog35[/B] says above, the costs aren't all in the glass and metal that you see in the device. We've heard that Apple is spending billions in display development over recent years. We can't even find out if this display is IGZO or not.

    Neil Hughes, do you not want to address that question? You have Raymond Soliera saying that it is IGZO in the Kindle display story yesterday. And also implying that LTPS is the better technology, which Apple has been using for years.
  • Reply 19 of 57
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

     

     

    Like the elusive fusion reactor that is always on the horizon to solve all our energy needs, revolutionary battery technology is always standing right next to that fusion reactor. It’s coming, it’s coming, but the date keeps getting pushed out. A hundred years after the phonograph and we still have vibrating paper cones to get that fancy digital music to our analog ears.


    and the fact that incremental improvements are matching the cost curve of consumer devices.

     

    Once there is a demand for graphene batteries  where performance:cost:size envelope is not consumer focused (manned space exploration, military, state sponsored intelligence gathering ;-(, or baubles for the insanely rich) it will knee over the post piece production to mass production cost cycle.   (and all the back pressure from established industries  as well...  Think Tesla vs Auto Industry and then think of the investments by Everready... why aren't they in the picture... and if they aren't  in the picture they are fighting against it)

     

    And until we change the tympanic skin membrane in our ears that rattles 3 little bones against a fluid based a(ir)/A(or little 'd') converter....  that were 'made' to listen to vibrating cartilage (voice), and cellulose (leaves, sticks), there isn't any reason not to change the A:a(ir) converter at the delivery end, as it's actually what we are designed to hear.

  • Reply 20 of 57
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by NeilM View Post

     

    Another AI article cites a different third party analysis that says the iPad Air's panel is indeed IGZO.

     

    I took delivery of a new iPad Air for an office user yesterday. Without another retina display to compare it's hard to be sure whether there are are visible differences with the IGZO display, but I'm inclined to think not. The screen improvements seem to be under the hood.

     

    What is immediately noticeable is the reduced case size and weight compared to my own iPad 2. For me the iPad Mini suddenly looks a lot less alluring; for the modest extra weight and bulk I'd rather have the Air's full size screen. That choice will of course play out differently for people depending on their usage and priorities; it's nice to have both options.


     

    I spent yesterday evening using it, without a cover, for several hours. For me, I could do it with one hand, something I could not do with my iPad 3, even without a cover. 

     

    It was stark how thick my iPad3, with cover, felt when I picked it up.  I'm probably going for a Smart Cover this go round, to keep it as thin and light as it can get. I'll by a traveling cover for those occasions when I want to take it out the house.

     

    So far, I am impressed. Thin. Light. Fast. And if you can palm a basketball(I can), you can even hold it around the sides with one hand. The home button, as on the iPhone 5S seems to click a lot more than the iPad 3. Overall all, for day one, I'm very pleased.

     

    I picked up the full monty, 128GB, Verizon LTE.

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