Apple’s 12.9-inch iPad Air will not be getting its most exciting predicted upgrade

If like us you were hoping to see a mini-LED iPad Air, you're going to have to wait a little longer

iPad Air 2022
(Image credit: Apple)

If like us you were excited by the prospect of a mini-LED iPad Air with a 12.9-inch display, we've got bad news for you: the display analyst who leaked it just a few weeks ago now says it isn't happening. Rather than move to mini-LED, the newest, biggest iPad Air is going to stick with LCD displays instead.

The existence of a mini-LED iPad Air was revealed by display analyst Ross Young, who said that the big Air was going to take advantage of panels left over from the same-sized iPad Pro. That would have been a serious win for iPad buyers provided Apple didn't hike the price too much. But it seems that the plan has now been dropped.

Why isn't Apple making a mini-LED iPad Air?

According to Young in a subscriber-only post on X (hat-tip to MacRumors), despite rock-solid confirmation of the plans from multiple well-placed sources, the mini-LED iPad Air has been canned at the last minute. The reason is financial rather than technical: the panels are apparently too expensive for Apple's intended bill of materials. So the new iPads we'll see at the Apple event in May are going to stick with the same LCD panels we're already familiar with.

That doesn't mean that a mini-LED iPad Air won't happen, however. Young says that Apple may introduce a 12.9-inch mini-LED iPad in the final quarter of 2024, although as yet it's unclear whether that will be a higher-end iPad Air, a lower-spec iPad Pro or something completely different. And as yet there's no guarantee that it'll happen at all.

It's a shame that the new iPad won't also come with improved display technology: mini-LED isn't just nicer to look at, as it's also more energy efficient. But hopefully there's an upside to the decision to stick with LCD for now: the price of the bigger iPad Air shouldn't be quite as high as it would otherwise have been.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).