A new report from Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes has reaffirmed a belief held by reputable analysts and watchers that the next iPad Pro with mini-LED backlight technology is slated to arrive sometime in the first quarter of 2021, most likely in the spring.

The supply chain report underscores that Apple has managed to diversify its supply chain for display and touch panel components, with China-based BOE having been certified to supply OLED panels for iPhones and GIS now supplying the Cupertino company with touch panels for both new ‌iPhone‌s and the next-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro‌.

GIS approved investments of NT$2.198 billion (US$76.3 million) and NT$1.421 billion proposed by its subsidiary in Chengdu, China in August and November 2020 respectively, with the funds to focus on expanding production capacity for integrated touch modules used in tablets, the sources said.

The subsidiary will invest another NT$753 million to improve production line automation. The subsidiary currently produces integrated touch modules for iPads and MacBooks, the sources said. Besides iPhones, GIS will produce integrated touch modules for miniLED-backlit panels of 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ to be launched in first-quarter 2021, the sources noted.

Provided the rumors are true, the next 12.9-inch iPad Pro should file as Apple’s first mobile device to use mini-LED backlight technology.

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Instead of having uniformly-lit pixels, mini-LED backlighting takes advantage of over a thousand full-array local dimming zones. By contrast, Apple’s Pro Display XDR monitor incorporates a 2D backlighting system that uses 576 full-array local dimming zones. Rather than uniformly light the whole display, this allows for a much more granular localized backlight, resulting in better HDR images and videos, deeper blacks, richer colors and higher contrast ratio.

According to reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, other Apple products will transition to mini-LED technology, including redesigned MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models.

mini-LED technology shouldn’t be confused with MicroLED.