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New iPad Pro 2021 (mini-LED): Apple confirms April event, iPad Pro expected

Apple has announced it is holding an April event, likely to launch the iPad Pro 2021 which is expected to introduce a new screen tech to the tablet line. Here’s everything we know about the iPad Pro 2021 ahead of its unveiling, including reported features and upgrades.

While the current iPad Pro is already a feature-rich device, big upgrades to a variant of the new 5nm A14 and exciting new display tech are expected to send the Pro from strength to strength. With Apple now confirming its Spring Loaded event for April 20, it looks like the wait might finally be over.

The news around the next iPad Pro still remain just rumours and we can’t be certain when we’ll see this become official. However, the speculation has come with plenty of tidbits regarding price, release date, display, specs and more.

Here’s everything you need to know about what could possibly be the best tablet of the year.

iPad Pro 2021 release date – Expected to arrive at Apple’s April Event

  • April event seems a likely home for the new iPad reveal
  • Previous suggestions hinted at a March event 

We’ve suspected for a while that the iPad Pro 2021 release date would be in April 2021. Now, with Apple confirming it plans to host an event for April 20, all of the previous speculation looks to be lining up.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who has a good track record when it comes to Apple leaks recently reports that the new iPad Pro (both an 11 and 12.9-inch version) would be announced ‘as early as April’ and this now matches up with the Spring Loaded event announced by the company.

We could also see the iPad Mini 6 arrive around the same time.

There’s always the chance we don’t see a new iPad Pro this year. Unlike iPhones, Apple has a more flexible release schedule with its tablets.

If you can’t wait for these new iPad Pros (although you should at least wait until April 20), you can get the current models now. See below for up-to-date pricing.

iPad Pro 2021 availability – Supplies set to be limited

  • It could be tough to get the 12.9-inch at launch

When Apple does announce the next-gen iPad Pro, hopefully at the April 20 event, supplies of the 12.9-inch version of the device could be limited due to ongoing issues with the manufacturing of the mini-LED panels.

The new screen tech (which you can read a lot more about below) is said to be a highlight addition to the top-spec iPad Pro 2021 and this news of limited supplies with surely come as a blow to anyone hoping to bag the tablet on day one.

Supply issues have been a running theme with numerous tech products over the past few months. It remains virtually impossible to easily grab a PS5 or Xbox Series X and Google has already confirmed that its upcoming Pixel 5a will be limited to release in Japan and the USA. Previous rumours had suggested the phone had been cancelled completely due to supply issues.

Performance and features – Expect the iPad Pro 2021 to be powered by some form of the A14 Bionic chipset

  • Should come with some form of the A14 Bionic chipset
  • Possible Thunderbolt connectivity

Leaks from mid-2020 seemed to suggest the next iPad Pro would come with a slightly-souped up version of the A14 chipset, likely the A14X.

A Bloomberg report also states the iPad Pro 2021 will come with an A14 chipset that is on par with the M1 chips powering the latest MacBook Air and MacBook Pro.

The same report also suggests the new Pros could boast a Thunderbolt 4 capable USB-C port, again similar to the above Macs.

We have also seen reports of data inside the iOS 14.5 beta backing up the above, with the software mentioning a GPU that is not currently used in any Apple device. According to 9to5Mac,  the A14X is based upon the chip found in the M1 Macs.

One of the best accessories you can get for the iPad Pro is the Apple Pencil. This stylus attaches magnetically to the tablet and is one of the best drawing tools we’ve come across. Images have suggested the next iPad Pro might be unveiled alongside a third-generation version of the Pencil. Little is known what benefits this new model could have, with the pictures not showing much aside from a glossier overall design. As have been the case before, we’d expect this to be an additional extra sold with the iPad.

Screen – A mini-LED display could be the big upgrade for the next iPad Pro

  • New screen tech could be big upgrade
  • Updated display could be restricted to the larger model

The most significant change for the iPad Pro 2021 looks to be a switch to mini-LED display; an alternative to OLED that offers improved contrast, darker blacks and more efficient lighting.  Reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has stated multiple times times that mini-LED will debut on the next model.

9to5Mac has also reported that Apple would prefer to use mini-LED over OLED because of the similar wide gamut of colour, but the lesser risk of image burn. However, we now know Apple isn’t all that afraid to use OLED, with its inclusion for the entire iPhone 12 lineup.

If the iPad Pro 2021 manages to hold onto features like the ProMotion 120Hz tech and add a higher quality panel then it would instantly make the upgrade worth it for many.

More rumours suggesting a switch to mini-LED have come from a DigiTimes report, which states that Ennostar will begin production of these panels in either the first or second quarters of 2021. It goes on to say these will be for a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which seems to suggest you’ll have to bag the biggest iPad Pro to benefit from this display tech. That is unless Apple is planning to make the Pro available in the larger size only.

5G – This is set to be Apple’s first tablet with the tech, following on from iPhone 12

  • The first iPad with 5G?
  • Apple first added 5G to the iPhone 12 range

Apple introduced 5G for the first time on its iPhone 12 range and all signs point to it being an option for the iPad Pro 2021.

Apple has always offered a ‘cellular’ version of its iPad Pro so don’t expect all models to have this, with it coming at a premium.

One report has stated that, like the iPhone 12 range, the 5G support on the iPad Pro will be compatible with both the sub-6Hz and mmWave varieties of 5G.

The report from DigiTimes (via MacRumors) says: “The self-sufficiency in design and development of AiP modules also means that Apple’s next-generation high-end ‌iPad‌ products to be released in 2021 may also come with mmWave technology, said the sources.”

However, this news won’t mean much for Brits who will rely solely on the sub-6GHz bands for 5G connectivity for the foreseeable future.

Design – Recent renders hint at a familiar design

  • Renders show a similar design

It doesn’t look like Apple will be heavily altering the look of the iPad Pro this time around, at least not if the selection of leaks we’ve seen so far anything to go by.

The latest look at the iPad Pro 2021 comes from a few dummy devices, which are often used by case makers to prepare products ahead of an official unveiling.

From the above images you can see embedded above, both sizes of the iPad Pro 2021 will look virtually the same as the current model. The only differences we can spot is an extra camera in the squared-off housing and different colours for the Smart Connector.

Considering this is one of Apple’s best designs from the past decade this is hardly an issue that we won’t be seeing radical upgrades visually this time around.

Credit: MySmartPrice

These renders of the 11-inch model show a device with the same thickness as the current model, but a bit shorter. There could also be changes to the speaker design and a slightly thinner camera module.