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New iPad Pro 2021 upgrade could make it a true laptop replacement (report)

iPad Air
(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

When Apple released the Magic Keyboard for the iPad Pro (and later for the iPad Air), it brought its tablets one step closer to becoming laptop replacements. 

It's a well-crafted accessory, but as you'll notice in my Magic Keyboard review, there is a lot of room for improvement. Those fixes could come soon. Apple is reportedly working on a second-generation Magic Keyboard, set to debut alongside the iPad Pro this year.

This bit of news comes from Patently Apple (via TechRadar), which spotted several Magic Keyboard patents granted by the Hong Kong Patent and Trademark Office. As per usual, the patent contains a bunch of technical jargon along with some high-res photos.

Interestingly, or perhaps disappointingly, the product in the photos looks identical to the current Magic Keyboard. There aren't any new features listed although one subheading reads "Equipment for the Recording or Reproduction of Sounds and Pictures," suggesting the detachable could have its own microphone. 

It's impossible to say what this sophomore effort will add but the existence of a patent does suggest Apple wants to make a few adjustments to its original concept. I personally hope the company finds a way to reduce the weight of the keyboard while making it more flexible so it can be used in tablet mode. Oh, and dropping the $350 price would be nice, too.    

New iPad 2021

So we could get a new keyboard, but what about the tablet itself?

Reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently amended his earlier projections that a new Pro would arrive in 2020, pushing his expected launch date to early 2021 for the new iPad Pro.

Kuo also reiterated his belief that the iPad Pro would be the first Apple product to launch with a mini LED display in early 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. Just as importantly, mini LED avoids some of the problems, like burn-in, that hamper OLED.

Under the hood, the iPad Pro is expected to be powered by an A14X chip, a enhanced version of the A14 found in the iPad Air. 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.

The iPad Pro 2021 isn’t likely to feature any major design changes, but between the display and the internal upgrades, it should widen the gap at the top of our best tablets rankings.