Mini-LED display heads for 11-inch iPad Pro in 2022, but no OLED for iPad Air

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2021 iPad Pro has an amazing mini-LED display
The 11-inch iPad Pro could join it’s larger brother in having a mini-LED screen.
Photo: Apple

An 11-inch iPad Pro with a mini-LED display will debut in 2022, according to a trusted analyst. It will join the 12.9-inch model that already has this type of screen that looks better than a standard LCD.

However, the analyst rescinded an earlier prediction that an iPad Air with an OLED display will launch in 2022.

Good news for iPad Pro fans

“The iPad Pro with an 11-inch mini-LED display will be the focus of iPad line in 2022,” according to Ming-Chi Kuo from TF International Securities in a note to investors sent Saturday and seen by Cult of Mac.

The 12.9-inch version of this tablet released in 2021 was the first Apple product with a mini-LED screen. This uses thousands of tiny LEDs to provide a backlight that can illuminate very specific areas. The result is higher contrast, blacker blacks, improved brightness and better power efficiency.

But the current 11-inch version still uses an LCD with traditional backlights. It’ll apparently be the last to do so, however.

Kuo did not predict exactly when the 2022 iPad Pro models will be out. Apple generally updates these 12 months or 18 months after the previous release so the new models could launch in spring or autumn.

And this type of screen will apparently stick around for a while. “We believe mini-LED will be one of the key selling points for the iPad in 2021–2023,” noted Kuo.

And not just iPad. The 16-inch and 14-inch MacBook Pro models allegedly coming before the end of 2021 supposedly will also employ mini-LED backlights.

But no iPad Air with OLED

In June, Kuo predicted that the next iPad Air would have an OLED screen. He now says Apple changed its mind.

The analyst gave two reasons. One is cost. “Apple canceled its plans to launch an OLED iPad Air in 2022 because the performance and cost could not meet Apple’s requirements,” Kuo said in Saturday’s note.

But there’s supposedly a marketing component to the decision as well. OLED screens look better than mini-LED ones so an iPad Air with a 10.9-inch OLED might draw many customers away from the more profitable 11-inch iPad Pro.

Each pixel glows in an Organic Light Emitting Diode display, removing the need for a backlight. The result is a high contrast ratio because pixels showing dark colors don’t need to light up at all. Plus, the whole screen is lighter weight and thinner.

At this point, Kuo doesn’t think any iPad with an OLED display will debut before 2024. But Apple is researching a range of possibilities. “We believe that lighter, thinner, and foldable designs are the major long-term trends for tablet-type products over the next 3–5 years,” noted the analyst.