Apple’s Mini-LED iPads and MacBooks Could Arrive Next Fall

2020 Ipad Pro Rumors Credit: Daniel Korpai / Unsplash
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Reports earlier this year have already suggested that Apple’s new 6K Pro Display XDR could very well be the forerunner for a major revamp of the screens used in its higher-end iPad Pro and MacBook Pro models, and now venerable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo is doubling-down on those earlier predictions with a few new details.

In a research note shared by MacRumors, Kuo said that he believes Apple could be releasing “high-end iPad and MacBook models” that will incorporate Mini-LED displays as soon as next fall. Kuo originally shared a very similar analysis back in April, accurately predicting Apple’s new 6K display, while also suggesting that the new $5,000 screen would be only an experimental foray into the new screen technology, with later products expected to make much bigger leaps.

What’s So Great About Mini-LEDs?

Mini-LEDs have been heralded by many as the new way forward in screen technology, as they will dramatically improve quality while allowing screens to be thinner and more power-efficient. This means slimmer MacBooks and iPads with great screens and longer battery life, which is a win all around.

In fact, Mini-LEDs offer many of the same advantages of OLED, including higher contrast ratios and dynamic ranges, along with rich and wide colour gamuts that could easily go beyond Apple’s current “Liquid Retina” display technology. Plus, while the initial ramp-up costs may be more expensive, in the longer-term they can be cheaper to produce than OLED screens, and are less prone to burn-in. Plus, this would help to reduce Apple’s dependence on Samsung to supply it with OLED displays.

So What’s Coming to iPads and MacBooks?

If you’ve been fortunate enough to see Apple’s 6K Pro Display XDR in action, that should give you a slight taste of what Mini-LED technology will be capable of, with the kind of contrast ratios and rich colours that were previously the exclusive domain of Plasma and OLED screens, but it has the potential to get even better than that.

The new Pro Display XDR actually only uses a “quasi” mini-LED solution, with 576 LED chips that are much larger than those that would normally be used. By comparison, Kuo expects the upcoming high-end iPad and MacBook models to go all-in on mini-LED, which would incorporate as many as 10,000 LEDs on 10–12 inch iPad models alone, and even more for the 15- and expected 16-inch MacBook Pros. According to Kuo, each LED would be approximately 200 microns (0.2 mm) in size , making them much smaller than those used in the Pro Display XDR. This would provide a much higher level of control over selective backlighting, thereby improving contrast ratios and colour accuracy.

It’s worth noting that while mini-LED may be a better option for Apple than OLED for its iPads and MacBooks, it’s still not going to be inexpensive, and will therefore likely be limited to what Kuo refers to as “high-end devices,” which presumably means the iPad Pro and MacBook Pro models, although the research note doesn’t mention specific models.

According to Kuo, the new display technology is expected to arrive for the iPad first, quite likely during the normal iPad Pro refresh next fall, followed by the MacBook in early 2021.

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