It's starting to look more and more like we can finally expect an update to the iPad mini later this year, and following a recent report about its processor and connectivity, we new have a new report saying that the screen will use a next-gen Mini-LED, just like the latest 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
The news is from a DigiTimes report (opens in new tab) (via MacRumors (opens in new tab)), which says "Radiant Optoelectronics will kick off shipments of its backlight units for the upcoming mini LED-backlit MacBook Pro and iPad mini later in the third quarter."
If this happens, it'd be fantastic! Mini-LED is a big, big upgrade over previous LCD technologies, as my iPad Pro 12.9 (2021) review gushes. As implied, it uses much smaller LEDs in the backlight, which means you can fit a lot more of them in there, enabling you to both make the screen brighter, but also to control local dimming of different zones in the backlight more precisely, giving much better contrast.
This enables the screen in the iPad Pro to go brighter than any phone or tablet OLED screen for HDR content, but also to get much closer to true black tones, which just elevates everything on the screen, from videos to icons in interfaces.
But… it doesn't really make any sense for the iPad mini to be the next tablet to get Mini-LED. The iPad mini has recently held a place where it's slightly cheaper than the latest iPad Air, and the iPad Air (2020) doesn't have Mini-LED, so it would be very odd for the iPad mini to be cheaper yet have a better screen. Especially since it's possible that it couldn't be cheaper, because Mini-LED screens are expensive to product.
And bear in mind that the iPad Pro 11-inch doesn't even have a Mini-LED display yet – can you really imagine Apple giving the new iPad mini a better screen than the smaller iPad Pro model?
The whole thing just doesn't pass the smell test for me, even if I find the idea of a mini Apple tablet with a HDR screen and A15 chip to be very desirable for watching movies while travelling.