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The iPad Pro’s big display upgrade tipped to arrive in March

Published Jan 8th, 2021 6:50AM EST
iPad Pro 2021
Image: Apple

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  • The 2021 12.9-inch iPad Pro will feature a mini-LED screen, according to a new report.
  • Apple will supposedly launch the new iPad Pro models in March, but just the 12.9-inch version will get the highly-anticipated display upgrade.
  • A different report from the same source says Apple is also expected to update the entry-level iPad, which will feature a tweaked design based on the iPad Air 3.

Every year, early January is dominated by CES tech announcements, and the same goes for 2021. The event might be virtual because of the pandemic, but we’ve already seen various product launches and teasers this week in anticipation of next week’s virtual CES 2021 edition. Notably absent from this show is Apple. The company doesn’t come to CES, but Apple rumors tend to appear around the event. 2021 isn’t an exception, as we’ve seen plenty of Apple leaks so far this year, covering unreleased products like augmented reality glasses, the mythical Apple Car, but also devices that will be upgraded later this year. Apple will launch new AirPods, MacBooks with M-series processors, the iPhone 13, and new iPads this year. And all of them already appeared in early Apple rumors.

Reports from Japan have detailed Apple’s purported plans for the iPad this year, indicating that the significant screen update rumored for the iPad Pro will become official this March.

Japanese blog Macotakara penned a couple of reports this week, focusing on the 2021 iPad launches. The 9th-gen iPad is likely to be based on the third-gen iPad Air model. The P3, True Tone display will measure 10.2 inches, but the tablet will be lighter (460g) and thinner (6.3mm). Sources from a Chinese supplier claim the cheap tablet will continue to offer similar features as its predecessors, including Touch ID, Lightning connectivity, full-lamination display with anti-reflective coating.

But the second Macotakara post is more interesting, as it details Apple’s plans for the 2021 iPad Pro series. The blog says the new iPad Pros are coming in March, a month when Apple usually announces new products.

The 2021 iPad Pros will come in two sizes, including 11-inch and 12.9-inch, featuring the same overall designs as the 2020 models. This includes the same cameras as last year’s models.

The 12.9-inch will get a few notable design changes. While the tablet will look a lot like last year’s large iPad Pro, it’ll be slightly thicker (0.5mm). As a result, the rear camera will not protrude as it happens with current models. The blog says the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will come with a mini-LED display option, implying that’s the reason why the thickness will be increased.

Mini-LED technology isn’t new, as several companies are studying it for all sorts of devices as a replacement for OLED. For quite a while, Apple has been rumored to work on mini-LED displays for the iPad Pro and MacBooks, with some reports claiming last year that a 12.9-inch iPad Pro with mini-LED would be available before the end of that year. That hasn’t happened, however.

Mini-LED screens use tiny LEDs that light up independently, which is a significant advantage over LCD LED screens. The mini-LED screens would offer better brightness and better blacks and increased power efficiency. The risk of burn-in would also be reduced, which can be a problem with OLED screens.

Macotakara also says the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will have a different speaker position, adding that the speaker holes have been reduced by two-thirds. The report makes no mention of 5G support, however. Apple launched its first 5G iPhones in October, and it’s likely that cellular versions of the iPad Pros will also feature 5G connectivity in the not so distant future.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.