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Last year, Apple’s 2021 iPad Pro lineup ushered in a new era for the tablet family in more ways than one. Not only did this mark the turning point of bringing desktop Mac power to the iPad family, but it also became the first Apple device to embrace mini-LED display technology.
Sadly, however, while both the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro gained the same M1 chip that powers Apple’s 13-inch MacBook Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini, only the larger tablet received the more impressive mini-LED display.
This meant that the 11-inch iPad Pro actually received no screen upgrade at all. Instead, it retained an identical Liquid Retina display to its 2020 predecessor.
To be fair, the smaller new iPad Pro still had a lot more going for it. The M1 chip not only brought huge performance gains, but it also opened the door to a Thunderbolt/USB 4 port upgrade and capacities of up to 2TB. Plus, the 11-inch iPad Pro did get the same front TrueDepth camera and 5G improvements as its larger sibling.
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The choice to move to mini-LED only on the larger iPad Pro seemed like an odd one on Apple’s part, although most sources suggested this had more to do with supply constraints than Apple’s desire to limit the better screen technology. We were in the middle of a global health pandemic, after all, and the chips needed to power advanced displays were hard to come by.
Naturally, Apple had to ration its component supplies to make sure it could deliver new display technology where it was most needed, and it’s hard to argue that bringing mini-LED to the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro lineup was far more important for Apple.
Still, many assumed that the 11-inch iPad Pro would get the mini-LED treatment as soon as supply constraints started to ease up and Apple could afford to do so, but it looks like that may not be as true as we had hoped.
Apple’s Mini-LED Plans for 2022
Analyst Ross Young, whose sole job is to follow what’s happening in the display industry very closely, has said that Apple has no plans to bring mini-LED to the smaller iPad Pro this year, since the 12.9-inch version is “doing really well.”
Panel production has started for the new 27″ MiniLED display to launch mid year. Assuming it will be called Studio Display Pro…I have insight on the 12.9″ MiniLED iPad Pro as well. It is doing really well. They don’t need to do one at 11″. Don’t expect it this year.— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) March 10, 2022
Naturally, Apple is still far more concerned about allocating its mini-LED components and manufacturing resources to more premium products, and Young still believes that’s going to be an “Apple Studio Display Pro” that could arrive as early as June.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has also suggested that Apple won’t introduce any new mini-LED products this year “due to cost concerns.” However, it’s fair to say that Kuo may be thinking more along the lines of the usual mainstream Apple products such as iPads and Macs, and not a Studio Display.
The only other mini-LED devices we’ve been expecting this year anyway were a 27-inch iMac Pro and a new iPad Pro lineup. Following this week’s events, however, it’s becoming more clear that what some leakers believed was a 27-inch iMac Pro was actually just a Studio Display Pro. That’s understandable, considering that with a front camera, speakers, ports, and even an A13 chip inside, the Studio Display is almost indistinguishable from an iMac to the casual observer. Even Young admits that his sources were duped by the Studio Display.
It’s also very unlikely we’re going to see new higher-end MacBooks this year, and while rumours continue to stir up hopes that Apple will bring mini-LED to just about everything, there’s really no reason to believe it’s actually going to come to the M2 MacBook Air or 13-inch MacBook Pro. Optimistic leakers also predicted that last year’s iPad mini 6 was going to get a mini-LED display, but of course, that never happened.
Not only is it clear that Apple is reserving mini-LED for its highest-end products, but it also has yet to produce a mini-LED display smaller than 12.9 inches. This technology also doesn’t come cheap, so it may be unrealistic for Apple to include it in a lower-cost iPad — even the 11-inch iPad Pro.
[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]