The next 12.9-inch iPad Pro may have a thicker body to accommodate a mini-LED screen

Apple’s upcoming refresh to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro may not include significant visual changes, but it should file as the company’s first device to incorporate a mini-LED backlight system that’s said to deliver many benefits of OLED technology, but with much less burn-in. To accommodate the new backlighting module, however, the tablet needs to become thicker.

No mini-LED for the 11-inch iPad Pro

Mac Otakara yesterday carried a report, citing Chinese supply chain sources, in which it claims that the Cupertino technology giant is planning to launch the next-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro in March of this year. The Japanese-language report has since been updated to reflect that the upcoming tablet will have a thicker body to accommodate the new display.

As for the eleven-inch iPad Pro, that device is not expected to adopt a mini-LED display at this time. It’s currently unclear whether that’s a physical limitation stemming from the tablet’s smaller volume or Apple’s business decision meant to save it some money—a mini-LED screen does use thousands of tiny diodes to illuminate the pixels and enable local brightness zones.

It would appear that Apple’s larger-screened devices, such as the iPad Pro and Mac notebooks, are about to adopt mini-LEDs instead of OLED screens. I’m just speculating, but this could be because mini-LED technology delivers much of the benefits of OLEDs—including deeper blacks, richer colors and localized brightness—but at a much lower risk of screen burn-in.

An Apple event in March?

Apple should unveil the upcoming 12.9-inch mini-LED iPad Pro in the first quarter of this year, according to analyst reports. There will probably be some sort of event, probably around the spring in March, to announce the product. Aside from the refreshed iPad Pro, the Mac Otakara report claims that Apple will also update its most affordable $329 iPad with a thicker and thinner appearance resembling the iPad Air 3 design. The low-cost tablet won’t have Face ID, however, because it’s expected to retain a Home button with Touch ID.