The Next iPad Pro Will Be Apple’s First Mini-LED Device (And It Could Be Coming Soon)

iPad Pros Credit: Daniel Romero
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We’ve been hearing reports since last year that Apple has been working on shifting to mini-LED technology for its devices, and now it’s looking like Apple’s upcoming iPad Pro will be the first in line to get this groundbreaking new display technology.

Reputable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo revealed earlier this year that Apple actually has a total of at least six mini-LED devices in the works, encompassing both iPads and MacBooks, and while those earlier reports left some room for speculation about exactly what Apple’s plans are, Kuo has returned with another research note that pins things down to a slightly more accurate timeline, at least as far as the iPad lineup is concerned.

According to the note seen by MacRumors, Apple is ramping up its plans to get mini-LED displays into its iPads and MacBooks, since it’s been having better success than it originally expected with its supply chain, including ramping up secondary partners to ensure that it has a steady supply of screens and chips for its upcoming devices.

While Kuo notes that Apple still has at least six iPads and Macs planned to gain mini-LED display technology by the end of next year, he now shares that supply chain orders have already begun for mini-LED displays for at least one iPad Pro model which are expected to be shipping through the end of 2020.

When’s It Coming?

While Kuo predicted last year that a 12.9-inch iPad Pro would be arriving with the new display technology by this fall, some cold water was thrown on that idea when Apple unveiled its 2020 iPad Pro lineup back in the spring, which of course didn’t include any new display technology.

However, while the release of two iPad Pros in the same year would be unusual, it wouldn’t be entirely unprecedented — Apple did this with the 3rd- and 4th-generation iPads back in 2012 — and with not only mini-LED but also 5G on the horizon, several reports suggested another iPad Pro could indeed be coming this year, including news that LED suppliers were ramping up production for an iPad Pro with mini LED backlighting in the fourth quarter of 2020 — something that seems strangely prescient in light of Kuo’s latest report.

While that now seems unlikely, we may never know for sure whether this was simply a matter of Apple’s original plan being foiled by the novel coronavirus pandemic. The global health crisis has already delayed Apple’s 2020 iPhone plans by at least a few weeks, and since the iPhone remains the crown jewel in Apple’s lineup, it’s likely that it would get absolute priority over anything else that the company may be working on.

This latest news that things are actually rolling along faster than originally anticipated has certainly led to speculation that we could still see at least one new iPad Pro appear before the end of 2020 — most likely the 12.9-inch model that’s been predicted all along. Considering that the just-released midrange iPad Air is now technically the most modern iPad, featuring Apple’s latest A14 chip, it sounds reasonable that Apple may want to get an iPad Pro out that can put the premium models back on top sooner rather than later.

Still, with the holiday season fast approaching, unless Apple is fairly confident it’s going to have something ready by late November, there’s still a very real possibility that it could get pushed into early 2021 instead.

Apple’s Mini-LED Plans

According to Kuo, Apple is also still looking to bring mini-LED technology to the 11-inch iPad Pro, although that might end up lagging a bit behind the 12.9-inch model. Alternatively, Apple could choose to delay the release of the larger model in order to launch them both out simultaneously in 2021, which would be a more logical timeframe as it would have been almost a year since the current iPad Pro launched in March of 2020.

Apple is also still working on bringing mini-LED to the 16-inch MacBook Pro, likely as part of a major redesign we’ve been hearing about since early last year which we now think will most likely accompany the larger MacBook Pro’s transition to Apple Silicon. Rumours of a 14-inch mini-LED MacBook also continue to circulate, along with a new 27-inch iMac — again also likely the major redesign that’s been rumoured.

While many of these new products were expected sooner, it’s becoming apparent that Apple has had bigger plans in store all along, and last year’s 16-inch MacBook Pro and the recently-launched 2020 27-inch iMac appear to mostly be stop-gap product refreshes on the way to a much more exciting 2021, which by all estimates sounds like it will feature a more wholesale transition to Apple Silicon along with better displays and significant redesigns to usher in a whole new era of Apple products.

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