When will mini-LED come to the 11-inch iPad Pro?

A reliable analyst predicts no mini-LED products from Apple in 2022. So, does that mean that the eleven-inch iPad Pro won’t get a mini-LED upgrade this year at all?

Apple's marketing image showing 2021 iPad Pro with the words "XDR. Liquid Retain to the extreme" in white font printed on top
  • The 12.9-inch iPad Pro features mini-LED for an OLED-like experience: High contrast, high brightness, local dimming zones and other perks. The 11-inch model, however, lacks mini-LED and instead uses several large LED lights.
  • Apple says the 11-inch model may not get mini-LED because it would make the device a bit thicker and heavier, affecting portability. But Apple said all sorts of things in the past that never proved true, and this could be one of those cases.
  • One analyst has predicted that Apple won’t release any new mini-LED-based products in 2022. While the current 12.9-inch iPad Pro is expected to get an update later this year, a mini-LED update to the 11-incher could happen in 2023.

No mini-LED for the 11-inch iPad Pro in 2022

Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said on Twitter that there would be no mini-LED products in new screen sizes from Apple in 2022 due to “cost concerns.” That implies no mini-LED 11-inch iPad Pro this year. The same goes for a mini-LED update to the company’s Studio Display monitor. Kuo’s tweet is a departure from his previous prediction calling not only for an 11-inch iPad Pro but also a redesigned MacBook Air with mini-LED backlighting in 2022.

The following Apple products feature mini-LED:

  • 12.9-inch iPad Pro
  • 14-inch MacBook Pro
  • 16-inch MacBook Pro

Consider another possibility: Apple may never add mini-LED to the 11-inch tablet.

mini-LED as a point of differentiation

Scott Broderick from Apple’s Worldwide iPad Product Marketing, along with his colleague Vincent Gu who works on Apple’s displays engineering team, made it clear that omitting mini-LED from the eleven-incher was Apple’s choice. Apparently, the company didn’t want to sacrifice the overall portability of the device just to adopt mini-LED, which adds weight, the two executives told Brian Tong in a video interview.

When people pick the 11-inch iPad Pro over the larger model, Broderick said, it’s mostly about portability. Adopting mini-LED into the smaller iPad would’ve made the device noticeably heavier. All in all, sacrificing the smaller iPad Pro’s portability for additional weight apparently doesn’t make sense to Apple at this point in time.

How mini-LED on iPad Pro works

After years of research and development, Apple on May 21, 2021, launched its first mini-LED gadget, the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. It swapped the LED-based backlighting for more sophisticated mini-LEDs and brought us a new moniker: “Liquid Retina XDR.”

Compared with regular LED lights commonly found on other iPads and iPhones, mini-LEDs are very tiny chips, with tens of thousands of them densely packed to provide superior brightness and contrast while enabling local dimming zones.

Unlike OLED where each pixel is its own source of light, traditional LCD-based pixels require backlighting to light up. However, mini-LEDs are not as tiny as individual pixels, each one illuminates several pixels surrounding it. This gives you many local dimming zones—2,500 of them on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro—along with one unintended consequence—display blooming. Read: How to record your Mac screen