New iPad Pro with Mini-LED lined up for March release, with tweaked design

You’ll need to buy the big one if you want the best iPad display

iPad Pro
(Image credit: Apple)

The much-leaked iPad Pro 2021 is just weeks away. We knew the mini-LED iPad Pro launch date was set for early 2021, and a new report is more precise: it’s coming in March. That’s according to Japanese site Mac Otakara in a nice spot by MacRumors.

The new report says that both the 11-inch iPad Pro and the 12.9-inch iPad Pro are being refreshed in March, and while the basic design is the same as the current models there are some important differences.

The biggest difference, literally, is that the 12.9-inch model will be around 0.5mm thicker than the existing model. The most likely explanation is that it’s thicker to accommodate the new mini-LED display: the "mini" bit refers to the size of the individual LEDs, not the display itself. The 11-inch iPad Pro’s dimensions are unchanged, which chimes with previous reports that said the big iPad would get mini-LED ahead of the 11-inch model.

Say bye-bye to the big camera bump

The second difference is on the other side of the iPad, where the camera housing currently protrudes. The new report says that there’s still a bump there, but it’s a much smaller one than before. That apparently applies to both iPad Pros, not just the 12.9-inch model.

The final difference is in the speakers, or rather the bits of the casing that let the sound out. Mac Otakara says that the number of little speaker holes has been reduced by two-thirds and they’re in slightly different positions too.

If you’re not greatly bothered by the imminent iPad Pro redesign but you do need a new iPad Pro, keep an eye out for iPad Pro deals as retailers shift their existing stock of the current models. The current iPad Pros are among the very best tablets you can buy.

Mini-LED will be in all kinds of Apple kit

Over the longer term Apple is expected to use mini-LED in more iPads, followed by a shift to OLED displays for the iPad Pros in 2022. That’s because while mini-LED is a significant upgrade over standard LED displays, OLED delivers even better precision and contrast. 

We know that both Samsung and LG have been working on Hybrid OLED displays, which use a mix of flexible film and rigid glass to make OLED panels that are much thinner than normal ones, and they’re expected to appear in the 2022 iPad Pro. When that happens we think the iPad Air may then move to mini-LED.

Mini-LED isn’t just destined for the iPad Pro. Apple also intends to use it in future MacBook Air and MacBook Pro laptops to make their Retina displays even better.