11-inch iPad Air might skip Mini-LED display tech after all
COVID-19 has messed with Apple launch plans
Apple has been heavily investing in Mini-LED display technology for quite some time. Before you get too excited, do note that the new screens aren’t as advanced as OLED equivalents because they still require a dedicated backlight layer.
Mini-LED does, however, represent a significant improvement over the LCD technology used by Apple on the iPad lineup. The reason being that the former promises deeper blacks and improved contrast ratios much like OLED. It's also brighter and more power efficient.
The near-term downside to Mini-LED is that it currently costs much more than LCD. But Apple hopes to counteract this with huge volume orders, something made possibly by its plans to adopt the displays on the entire iPad, MacBook Pro, and iMac lineups by the end of 2021.
Now, China Times says further COVID-19 complications have delayed all Mini-LED adoption plans until 2021. The result? The 11-inch iPad Air that is expected to debut in September alongside the iPhone 12 series will probably feature an LCD screen instead.
Expect an LCD screen, in-display Touch ID, slim bezels
Considering Apple is expected to adopt an iPad Pro-like design on the 2020 iPad Air, the tablet it introduces in September will likely feature a downgraded version of the display used on the 11-inch iPad Pro.
More specifically, one that removes the 120Hz ProMotion technology and instead favors the standard 60Hz refresh rate present on the existing iPad Air and cheaper iPad models. No changes to the thickness of bezels are expected at the moment, though.
To help keep costs down, Apple is also planning to replace Face ID with an in-screen version of Touch ID. Who will supply the fingerprint scanner remains to be seen, but the implementation could be a preview of what’s to come on future iPhones.
Whether all of these upgrades will be paired with support for the second-gen Apple Pencil rather than first-gen support remains to be seen.
An updated budget iPad is on the way too
Accompanying the new iPad Air should be an updated iPad. That was also expected to feature a Mini-LED display, but the aforementioned delays mean Apple could reuse the existing 10.2-inch LCD display complete with a Touch ID home button.