The iPad Air 4 will launch next month with massive upgrades inside and out, making it almost a dead ringer for the iPad Pro (11-inch). It also narrows the performance gap with its pricier sibling, although we’ll have to wait and see on the official benchmarks.
While the iPad Pro unquestionably has key features, such as the ProMotion 120Hz refresh rate display, new buyers will now have a much harder time deciding between these tablets. This confusion should be short-lived, however, as Apple’s next update to the iPad Pro is rumored to have some significant updates that will add some much-needed differentiation to the lineup.
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After scouring all of the rumors and leaks regarding the forthcoming iPad Pro, here’s a look at everything we know so far, including the potential release date, price, specs, features and more.
iPad Pro 2021 price
Pricing rumors haven’t surfaced much yet with regards to the iPad Pro 2021. But based on what we know to date, it seems likely that Apple will hold steady with the base prices of $799 and $999 for the iPad Pro 11-inch and iPad Pro 12.9-inch, respectively.
While the iPad Air saw a price hike to $599 after holding at $499 through its first three iterations, there is no evidence to suggest that the iPad Pro will follow suit. The $200 price gap seems enough to account for the differences between the two tablets. And with continued pressure from high-end Chromebooks and the Galaxy Tab S7, there is at least some motivation for Apple to remain price competitive despite its market dominance.
iPad Pro 2021 release date
Early in the year, there were rumors of another iPad Pro arriving before the end of 2020. However, by the spring, reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo amended his earlier projections to an early 2021 launch for the new iPad Pro and this claim was mirrored by GF securities analyst Jeff Pu.
As reported by MacRumors, in a recent analyst report this month, Kuo reiterated his belief that the iPad Pro would be the first Apple product to launch with a mini LED display in early 2021. The report stated production for the panels would begin in Q4 this year.
Given the production timeline, it is possible Apple could target an earlier-than-normal release for the iPad Pro in 2021, but the most likely timeframe remains sometime in mid-March. This would line up with this year’s launch although the iPad Pro release schedule has fluctuated more than most Apple products.
iPad Pro 2021 display
The most anticipated update to the iPad Pro 2021 is the introduction of the mini LED display panel. It’s an eagerly awaited technology that should be making a splash on a wide range of Apple products across 2021.
The new display technology will allow the iPad Pro to deliver superior contrast ratios, black levels and higher brightness than its current LED panels. It will also avoid some of the problems, like burn-in, that can arise with OLED. We got a look at a mini LED laptop from MSI back at CES this year, the MSI Creator 17. Although AMOLED and microLED may retain an edge for some, the new tech should represent a significant leap forward from Apple’s already solid Retina displays.
Beyond the visual benefits, mini LED displays are more energy-efficient. Apple could leverage this to boost the battery life on the iPad Pro or to slim it down and reduce the weight a bit, although most would probably prefer the former option.
iPad Pro 2021 specs
After the iPad Air 4 introduced the A14 Bionic processor, the current A12Z Bionic in the iPad Pro is feeling dated. Fortunately, rumors for a significant bump to the processor in the iPad Pro 2021 had already been swirling back in June with two often accurate leakers, @L0vetodream and @choco_bit, teaming up to deliver a few pieces of information regarding the internals of the forthcoming iPad.
with mini led and 5G X55 baseband https://t.co/1C57Oms2HXJune 3, 2020
We know the standard A14 Bionic offers a 40% boost over the A13 Bionic in terms of CPU performance and 30% in graphics performance. However, we don’t know much about the potential A14x variant for the iPad Pro 2021. Digitimes reported that it will also be a 5nm wafer, like the A14, and enter production in Q4, but offered no additional details.
The A12z Bionic in the current iPad Pro is a much more performance-oriented chipset than even the new A14 Bionic, which retains a four-core GPU and six-core CPU split between two cores for power and four for efficiency. The A12Z offers an eight-core GPU and an eight-core CPU split evenly between power and efficiency with four cores each. It's likely we’ll see similar architecture for the iPad Pro 2021, which should yield vastly superior performance compared to the iPad Air 4.
Other upgrades include the introduction of a 5G cellular option. Given that all four iPhone 12 models are rumored to be moving to 5G, it's very likely that this will be the only cellular option for the iPad Pros in 2021.
iPad Pro 2021 outlook
The iPad Pro 2021 isn’t likely to feature any major design changes. But between the display and the internal upgrades, it should once again reign supreme among the high-end tablets in the market.
Although the MacBook with Apple Silicon may win over some consumers, the flexibility of the iPad as a standalone tablet with the Apple Pencil, and as a laptop when paired with the Magic Keyboard, is a tough combination to beat.
The iPad Air 4 will remain a solid option even after the release of the iPad Pro 2021, but if the rumored updates hold true, the Pro will once again put distance between itself and its less expensive relative. If it does, the iPad Pro will again be the obvious choice for those who need high-end performance from a tablet.