iPad 5 may shed thickness by trimming LEDs

The iPad 5 is likely to sport thinner backlighting, which may get it closer to the iPad 2 in thickness and weight, according to NPD DisplaySearch.

The 9.7-inch  iPad 5 is expected to have narrow side bezels like the iPad Mini.
The 9.7-inch iPad 5 is expected to have narrow side bezels like the iPad Mini. Apple

The iPad 5 might jettison grams and millimeters via a redesigned LED backlight apparatus, according to NPD DisplaySearch.

"It's likely that part of the thinner/lighter design will be reducing the size of the LED backlight, partly by making the display more efficient and partly by using more efficient LEDs," said Paul Semenza, an analyst at NPD DisplaySearch, in an e-mail to CNET.

He said he also expects other modifications to reduce thickness. "The other significant change that we feel is likely is a shift to a film-based touch sensor," Semenza said.

It's still a mystery whether Apple will change the display tech, though. "It is not yet clear if there will be a big change to the display -- such as using IGZO," he added. (IGZO stands for indium gallium zinc oxide.)

That technology has been pursued by Sharp and was originally expected to land in the third-generation Retina iPad -- but didn't. Sharp's IGZO tech is used in smaller devices sold in the Japanese market.

The third- and fourth-generation iPads gained heft and thickness -- compared to the iPad 2 -- due mostly to technologies supporting the Retina display.

And when will a new 9.7-inch iPad 5 arrive? The third quarter is "most likely," Semenza said.

About the author

Brooke Crothers writes about mobile computer systems, including laptops, tablets, smartphones: how they define the computing experience and the hardware that makes them tick. He has served as an editor at large at CNET News and a contributing reporter to The New York Times' Bits and Technology sections. His interest in things small began when living in Tokyo in a very small apartment for a very long time.


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