iPad Pro 5 — Mini-LED… and More?

With the next-generation iPad Air rumored to be getting the same design and even display as the iPad Pro…

Just where exactly does that leave the next-generation iPad Pro?


The iPad Pro got its modern make-over back in October of 2018. Apple not only Thanos-snapped off half the bezels, they gave it a squared-off, retro-future look right out of the iPhone 5 playbook.

The 2020 iPad Pro, released just a few months ago, kept the exact same look. Pretty much the exact same everything, when it comes to design.

And that honestly to be expected. The original 2015 iPad Pro looked like a big version of the iPad Air, which came out in 2013. The 2016 iPad Pro looking like an exact-same-sized version of the iPad Air 2. The 2017 iPads Pro, a little bigger and the same again. All until that 2018 change.

So, five years for that design, maybe five years for this one as well. At least enough time for the iPhone to catch up.

I mean, for people who use it semi-permanently on a keyboard, magic or otherwise, they may be itching for Thanos to snap again and make the bezels even smaller. Like some near 100% screen-ratio smart phones.

But very few people, at least on hour earth, have hands big enough to palm an iPad Pro, and for everyone who actually picks it up and holds it, to multitouch or to draw or write with an Apple Pencil, bezels just aren’t the enemy. Not all of them must die.

About the only thing I really, really want to see changed is for the TrueDepth camera system to move to landscape orientation.

To be clear, this has so far been rumored by no one, there have been absolutely zero in my dreams to love about it.

But it’s just so awkward in its current position, especially on the keyboards magic and otherwise, that I hope to Morpheus Apple does it anyway.

If you do as well, drop a comment and let me know.


The original iPad Pro, the one Tim Cook walked out on stage with in 2015, had a 12.9-inch LCD display. And, compared to the iPad Air, it just looked so enormous, so immersive back then.

The 2016 iPad Pro, though, that had the same 9.7-inch display that Steve Jobs first introduced back in 2010. But, with DCI-P3 wide color gamut, meaning richer reds and deeper greens.

It wasn’t until 2017 that the 9.7-inch became 10.5, even as the 12.9-inch stayed the same. But, both got ProMotion, Apple’s adaptive display technology that let them ramp up to 120Hz for clarified buttery-smooth scrolling and Pencil drawing, down to 48Hz for properly cinematic movies and videos, and even 24Hz to save power for largely static images.

And even when the big redesign came in ought 18, and the 10.5 grew to fill out the bezels, to take the iPad Pro to 11, the 12.9-inch simply shed it’s own bezels instead, keeping the display precisely the same size.

And the 2020 update did nothing to change that.

The big rumor for the next-generation, though… is decidedly small: That Apple will be switching from LCD panels to mini LED panels.

There have been some OLED rumors as well but last I heard Apple still wasn’t happy with OLED at iPad scale. Brightness levels not being consistent and all that.

But mini LED offers a lot of the same benefits as OLED without having as many drawbacks.

It uses, literally, tiny LEDs, like 10,000 of them, below 200 microns in size, grouped into local dimming areas, so you can more precisely control the back light to get deeper blacks and higher contrast ratios.

So, you can get HDR, high dynamic range, without having to get OLED.

It’s not micro LED, which are self-emmiting, which generate their own light, like OLED. But without needing things like PenTile sub pixel layouts. They can use RGP stripe like all good-hearted panels.

That technology is further out, though, and will probably hit the Apple Watch first, then scale up to the iPhone. Just like OLED.

So, mini LED. Which will be terrific in terms of watching HDR content.

Especially with ProMotion, which should let it save power, show that HDR content at 48Hz like nature and Hollywood intended, and then ramp up to 120Hz for scrolling and Pencil.

Literally can’t wait.

USB 4.0

Part of the iPad Pro’s big redesign was the transformation from Lightning to USB-C. Yes, blessed USB-C.

It allowed the iPad Pro to work with a wider ranger of peripherals — Mac and PC peripherals.

But it’s not Thunderbolt, because Thunderbolt requires PCIe, and Apple has never surfaced any PCIe lanes for ports on any iOS device, not even the iPad Pro.

Now, there haven’t been any rumors about Thunderbolt coming to the iPad Pro, at least as far as I’ve seen, but… but…

Just last month Tim Cook announced the Mac was switching from Intel to Apple Silicon, similar if not the same as the systems-on-a-chip they’ve been using for the iPad for a decade.

In fact, the developer test kit is using an A12Z chipset — the same chipset that’s in the current iPad Pro.

Then, just after that, Intel announced Thunderbolt 4, and just after that, Apple sent me a statement saying they would continue to support Thunderbolt on Apple Silicon.

So, Apple is already building custom chipsets with PCIe lanes for Thunderbolt.

At the same time, USB4 is on the way. Now, USB is a standard, which means it just simply has to be super confusing, right?

To paint an ugly picture, USB letters define the plug. USB-A on older devices, USB-B on printers, mini and micro-USB on older mobile devices and headphones and, embarrassingly, still some new ones…

The number defines the speed. So USB 3 was faster than USB 2, and USB 4 is faster again than USB 3.

Again, that’s already grossly over-simplified, but to make it even simpler again — USB 4 is going to give Thunderbolt-like speeds in a cable uses the same USB-C plug. And it’s going to do that by folding in the Thunderbolt 3 spec.

And, if the USB Implementers Forum and Intel don’t screw anything up, Thunderbolt 4 as well.

I’d love to see that on both the USB-C port and the Smart Connector, so a next-generation Magic Keyboard could actually handle higher-bandwidth data well.

Again, there have been no rumors that I know of even hinting at USB-4 on the iPad Pro. Speculation like mine, sure. Tons. This is the internet, after all.

But as someone who’s dying to connect a super fast Samsung X5 SSD to an iPad Pro for 4k video transfer, and actually have it transfer super fast, I want it badly.

Hit that like button if you do as well.


Yes, a bunch of super salty pundits wrote a bunch of super silly hot takes last year saying the iPhone 11 not having 5G was just super dumb.

And now, almost a year later, most of the world still doesn’t have functional 5G.

But, since then, Apple and Qualcomm have settled their long-running lawsuits and are actively working together on 5G modems for the iPhone 12.

Rumor has it, sub-6, maybe even sub-9 for the standard iPhone 12, and sub-6 or sub 9, and mmWave for the iPhone 12 Pro.

And that’s for sure the priority. But once that’s done, adding 5G to the iPad Pro just makes all the sense that does.


The 2018 iPad Pro had an A12X chipset. Basically the iPhone XS chipset with 7 GPU cores. But, turns out, it was 7 GPU cores because TSMC’s process wasn’t reliably turning out all 8 cores.

Flash forward to 2020, and that’s no longer the case. So, Apple starting shipping the fully operational version as the A12Z for the current iPad Pro.

Why not an A13 like the iPhone 11 or, more properly, an A13X? My guess is the 2020 iPad Pro was mainly a delivery vehicle for LiDAR testing and Apple’s silicon team was already beyond busy working on the A14 for the iPhone 12 and the new Mac Silicon that’s now on their plate as well.

But… rumor has it the next-generation iPad Pro will be getting that same A14… well, the GPU-embiggened A14X version.

It’ll be faster, because of course it will, and hopefully it’ll have more memory as well. The 2020 iPad Pro has 6 GB of RAM. 8 GB would put it on par with an entry-level Mac, though, which will really, really come in handy if and when Apple ships Final Cut, Logic, and Xcode for the iPad Pro,