Monday, November 11, 2013

How Did Apple Manage To Make The iPad Air And Mini 2 So Thin? Hint: New Technologies

by Mihai Matei (November 2013)

I assume that each and every gadget enthusiast out there is aware of the fact that Apple has recently made its new iPad line-up official. Yes, I say “line-up” because - just as the tons of previous leaks and rumors have suggested - the Cupertino giant has lifted the curtain on a new iPad flagship dubbed the “iPad Air”, as well as the new iPad Mini with Retina.

You may also be aware of the fact that, this year, the 9.7 inch iPad went through a complete redesign. Apple took iPad mini’s design language, and applied it on its larger sibling. What’s really outstanding is that both tablets are extremely thin! The iPad Air measures only 7.5 mm in thickness, making it 0.1 mm thinner than the iPhone 5s. How is this possible? As usual, the simple answer is “advancements in technology“, but if you’re a tech junkie and you want to know the details, then you’ll find them below.

Apple iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 (With Retina) – New, “Thin” Technologies
Evidently, in order for the iPad Air and Mini 2 to be so thin, something needed to become smaller. So what is it? The battery? The silicon? Well, the answer is that, the biggest factor behind the thinness of these tablets is the new technology used in manufacturing the display and the glass itself. In previous years, the LCD panels of the iPad were coated with indium tin oxide (ITO) in order to form an LCD insulator film. This year however, the thickness of the film has been reduced thanks to a new ITO multi-layer coating technology. Yep, as opposed to how ITO coating used to work, due to some new technological “wizardry”, more layers now equal a thinner display.

But that’s not all. The glass panel itself is also thinner due to technological advancements. Generally speaking, a smartphone / tablet glass panel is 0.5 mm thin, but display manufacturers / suppliers have now developed ways to melt upper and lower substrates of a glass panel even further, using chemicals, resulting in a thinner-than 0.25 mm panel. Now, before you praise Apple, keep in mind that we have to give credit where credit is due. These technological advancements are delivered mainly by the Korean suppliers, such as Avatec, UID, GD and Chematronics.

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