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The 2021 iPad Pro could bring 5G and mini-LED tech. Here’s what we know so far

Apple may have just launched a 2020 version of the iPad Pro, but rumors have already started circulating regarding the next model, and what it might bring. Since the most recent update was pretty minor, it’s entirely possible (even likely) that the next one will be far more dramatic.

Have you been holding your breath for a larger refresh of the iPad Pro? We’ve rounded up all the rumors so far.

Design and display

The overall design of the iPad is still very modern, and considering how long Apple stuck with the previous design, it may be a while before we see major changes.

The display, on the other hand, could see an impressive update for 2021. Notably, according to recent leaks, the 2021 iPad will offer a mini-LED display.

The 2021 iPad Pro could offer new Mini-LED display tech. Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

A mini-LED display uses an array of LEDs in a grid that are positioned behind the screen, instead of lighting elements towards the sides of the display. This allows for deeper black levels and better power efficiency. While an OLED screen would also bring deeper blacks and excellent color to the tablet, those displays tend to be more expensive, and can be power hungry at high brightness levels. These disadvantages could explain why Apple is considering mini-LED instead.

Talk about the iPad Pro switching to mini-LED has been around for some time, with well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicting that Apple would make the switch in 2021. Apple is also expected to adopt mini-LED for some Mac computers next year.


Under the hood, the 2021 iPad Pro may offer a spec bump. The 2020 iPad featured a new Apple A12Z chip, but it was only a minor update over the A12X in the previous-generation iPad Pro, and focused primarily on graphics performance. Next time around, however, Apple will likely include a bigger improvement, including a bump in CPU performance.

Rumors point to Apple including a variant of its A14 chip, likely to be called the A14X. This would be in line with the company’s usual release schedule — the standard A14 will likely ship with the iPhone 12 when it’s released in September this year.

Apart from the new chip, there may not be much of a spec bump. Apple may include a little more RAM, but the company doesn’t advertise RAM in its mobile devices, so we won’t know until it releases the device and users get their hands on it. Apple traditionally offers less RAM than Android alternatives; with current models offering up to 6GB of memory, a bump to 8GB seems possible but not certain.

5G support

One of the biggest upgrades in the iPad Pro may be the addition of 5G support in the cellular model. This could unlock a whole new world of productivity for those who rely on internet connectivity for their work. Even low-band 5G offers data speeds that only the fastest LTE connections could previously offer. Even those who don’t need superfast speeds for their work may benefit from 5G connectivity — it could come in handy for things like video streaming.

5G support would boost the iPad Pro’s wireless performance. Andy Boxall/DigitalTrends

Providing the 5G connectivity will reportedly be a Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 modem, which isn’t all that surprising. Following years of legal battles, Apple and Qualcomm finally came to an agreement in mid-2019. The agreement involved a six-year deal, though it’s unknown exactly how long Apple will use Qualcomm modems, since the phone maker is widely believed to be developing its own modems.

Price and availability

Apple just launched a revised iPad Pro, so it may be some time before we see a new one. At this point, Apple is expected to launch the new device in 2021, possibly in March, one year after the latest refresh.

It’s also possible Apple could hold onto the latest model a little longer and release the new device at an October event, as it did in 2017. The iPad does not follow the yearly release cycle buyers expect from the iPhone. Stick with Digital Trends for all the details — we’ll let you know when we learn more.

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