No new iPads were announced at this year’s September Apple Event, except for the budget 10.2-inch model. However, analyst Ming Chi Kuo released a report in Chinese that claims that 2021 will see both new iPad Pros and new MacBook models.
The report is unconfirmed. However, what’s interesting about it is that Kuo claims that both the 2020 iPads and MacBooks will feature mini-LED technology. This is a distinct display technology compared to the microLED technology that Apple is reportedly working on. We’d covered microLED rumors earlier.
What is Mini-LED Technology?
What exactly is mini-LED, though? It helps to have a brief understanding of display backlighting tech. Most LCD displays today actually have LED backlighting. They have anywhere from a few dozen LEDs (in Edge-lit arrangements) to a few hundred (in FALD).
These backlights are adjusted to account for different brightness levels in the image. Mini-LED tech shrinks down the size of these LEDS. This allows for backlighting with potentially thousands of LEDs. These can be adjusted individually to give OLED-like contrast and color. At the same time, Mini-LED displays wouldn’t have to deal with the problems that OLED displays have. OLEDs face screen burn-in issues and also tend to deliver lower peak brightness.
Kuo states that the new iPad Pro and MacBook will use up to 10,000 mini-LEDs in the display backlight. This would enable far better HDR quality. This arises from the combination of local dimming and higher peak brightness mini-LED tech enables. While current-gen iPads have support for HDR content, the image quality isn’t the best. This is because of a relatively low peak brightness and the use of edge-lit lighting.
Apple is already using OLED technology in its newer iPhones. As a matter of fact, the OLED Retina display on the iPhone X and above is a key differentiator compared to lower-end models like the iPhone XR. So why would Apple want to opt for mini-LED tech? Kuo claims that this is because mini-LEDs aren’t susceptible to screen burn-in like OLEDs. Moreover, rival Samsung is still the main supplier for OLEDs.
Apple already makes limited use of mini-LED technology. The recently-announced Pro Display XDR features mini-LED backlighting. However, the Pro Display only uses 570 mini-LEDs. The newer iPads and MacBooks will use nearly 20 times as many.
An all-new MacBook design is expected to be announced this year. Kuo mentions that this MacBook will feature a scissor-switch keyboard and a new design with slim bezels. However, it will likely be the generation after this that’ll make use of mini-LED tech. The same applies to iPads.