Apple's latest iPad Pro, announced Wednesday, could be replaced sooner than expected. A Friday report claims the company is planning an update to its tablet that features a new display technology, and it could launch as early as the fourth quarter of 2020.
A report from DigiTimes claims Apple plans to release an iPad Pro with mini LED backlighting. This technology uses much smaller light-emitting diodes for its backlighting than Apple's current screens, meaning it can pack more into a display and switch them off individually to create deeper blacks. This is not quite the same as OLED or micro LED, but should nonetheless offer a big improvement over the current screens used in iPads.
It could be a big step up for Apple, but it would come just months after the fourth-generation iPad Pro. That tablet, unveiled Wednesday with a starting price of $799, features a new A12Z Bionic processor, a LiDAR scanner for improved augmented reality, and a second rear ultra-wide camera. The company also unveiled a new Magic Keyboard for the iPad the same day, which adds a trackpad to the keyboard and introduces a floating cantilever design to make the tablet work more like a MacBook. The new accessory, which also supports the third-generation tablet released in October 2018, starts at $299, but won't ship until May.
This isn't the first rumor — But there are a few reasons to think the rumor may be accurate. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also claimed earlier this month that mini LED would come to the 27-inch iMac Pro, 14.1-inch MacBook Pro, 10.2-inch iPad, 7.9-inch iPad mini, and 12.9-inch iPad Pro. Kuo did not provide release dates for any of the products, bar the iMac Pro in the fourth quarter of 2020 and the iPad mini for sometime in 2020.
The other reason to give this rumor some weight is the fourth-generation iPad Pro doesn't change very much. Its most striking feature is a keyboard accessory that works with the previous model anyway. Antutu benchmarks also suggest its A12Z chip improves performance by just nine percent. The LiDAR sensor, while impressive, may depend on greater software support to really shine.
We've seen this rollout schedule before — The launch bears a lot of resemblances to the third-generation iPad, which launched in March 2012 around 12 months after its predecessor. That tablet featured an A5X processor, a small improvement over the previous generation's A5 chip, as well as an improved camera and cellular connectivity. Its standout feature was the high-resolution Retina display, which featured double the pixel density of its predecessor.
Just seven months after the third-generation model, Apple released the fourth-generation iPad in October 2012 with a more powerful processor and a Lightning connector. Could Apple be about to repeat history? It certainly seems that way. And if so, if you're consdiring a fourth-gen iPad Pro but don't desparately need it now, it may pay to hold off for a few months. If nothing else, at least you'll be able to get the new keyboard cover then.