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iPad Pro’s exciting display upgrade might be coming to the 2021 MacBook Pro

Published May 3rd, 2021 6:49PM EDT
MacBook Pro 2021
Image: Apple Inc.

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Apple unveiled the new iPad Pro models at its Spring Loaded event. The new iPad Pros come in the same 11-inch and 12.9-inch options, but feature a few notable upgrades over their predecessors. Both devices run on the same M1 processor that powers several Macs, feature up to 16GB of RAM and up to 2TB of storage. Also, the iPad Pros come with optional 5G support. But the best upgrade concerns the 12.9-inch model’s display.

The larger iPad Pro features a mini-LED screen. That’s the new Liquid Retina XDR display that offers the same performance as Apple’s Pro Display XDR monitor that retails for $5,000. A new report says the same display technology might be available for the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros that Apple will launch later this year.

Reports last year said that Apple planned to bring mini-LED screen tech to iPad and MacBook lines, starting with the iPad Pro and some MacBook Pro versions.

iPad Pro Liquid Retina XDR
iPad Pro Liquid Retina XDR display features. Image source: Apple Inc.

Sources familiar with Apple’s supply chain have told Digitimes (via MacRumors) that TSMT has addressed technical challenges for the production of mini-LED screens for the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models.

Digitimes reported that “TSMT is the exclusive provider of SMT services for the recently launched 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌’s mini-LED backlights and is expected to do the same for the two upcoming miniLED-backlit MacBook models, the sources said.”

The Apple supplier has been dealing with various production yields for key mini-LED components, including the circuit board and adhesive materials in the mini-LED displays destined for the new MacBook notebooks. TSMT has adjusted its techniques, increasing production yield rates to over 95%.

iPad Pro’s Liquid Retina XDR screen offers a 1,000,000:1 contrast ratio, 1000 nits of full-screen brightness, 1600 nits of peak brightness, P3 wide color gamut, and 120Hz ProMotion support. The screen features a layer made of 10,000 mini-LEDs groups into 2,500 local dimming zones, as seen below. This allows Apple to adjust the brightness accurately and reach that 1,000,000: 1 contrast ratio.

iPad Pro Liquid Retina XDR
iPad Pro Liquid Retina XDR: Local dimming zones explained. Image source: Apple Inc.

The same technology should be available in this year’s MacBook Pros if the report is accurate.

The 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models will probably be unveiled much later this year. They’ll succeed the current 13-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models that run on M1 and Intel chips, respectively. Both 2021 MacBook Pro laptops will feature an Apple M-series processor, likely the M1’s successor.

The mini-LED display upgrade isn’t the only change planned for the 2021 MacBook Pro models. Other reports claimed earlier this year that Apple plans a major redesign for its notebooks. The new MacBooks will bring back support for MagSafe chargers and include additional ports compared to previous versions. The Touch Bar might also go away, the same reports said.

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.