Apple is expected to unveil the fifth-generation iPad Pro at the “Spring Loaded” event on April 20. As the rumors gain traction, here are five new features the 2021 iPad Pro could have.

We’ve been hearing for months that the fifth-generation iPad Pro will have some notable upgrades, even if the external design stays identical.

While the fourth-generation model mostly was launch to introduce the Magic Keyboard, the next generation could bring a better display, the fastest A-series processor available from Apple, a new Apple Pencil, and more. Here’s a roundup about what we expect the company will add to the 2021 iPad Pro lineup:

mini-LED display technology

Apple now placed orders for mini-LED iPad

One of the things people are expecting the most for the fifth-generation iPad Pro is the mini-LED display technology. While rumors suggest only the 12.9-inch model will receive this upgrade, the mini-LED display uses dramatically smaller LEDs to provide much greater control of localized backlighting, allowing higher brightness and deeper blacks. The combination boosts the contrast ratio, as well as using less power.

As we explained in our full roundup of mini-LED technology earlier this year:

Traditional LED-backlit displays will have anywhere from several dozen to several hundred LEDs. As the name suggests, mini-LED displays make use of miniaturized backlighting and can feature over a thousand full array local dimming (FALD) zones.

Advantages of mini-LED:

  • Higher contrast ratio
  • Higher brightness
  • Deeper blacks
  • Power-efficient
  • Less prone to burn-in than OLED
  • Uses inorganic Gallium nitride (GaN), won’t degrade over time like OLED

Third-generation Apple Pencil

The mini-LED display technology leads to another rumor that Apple will introduce the third-generation Apple Pencil next week. It’s possible this product will include some new sensors that only work with the displays in the upcoming 2021 iPad Pro, perhaps enabling new features or higher precision for the digital stylus. Aside from a new leak surfacing Weibo today, there’s also an image claiming what the Apple Pencil 3 will look like.

The 2021 iPad Pro will use the A14X SoC

The 2021 iPad Pro lineup will add a new chip that’s going to be called A14X, 9to5Mac discovered.

The fifth-generation iPad Pro will have a similar performance to the latest M1 Macs, as the A14X processor will be based on the same chip architecture. For the end user, this should result in a notable upgrade in speed compared to the A12Z Bionic chip used in the 2020 iPad Pro.

Comparing the A12 chip (fourth-generation iPad Pro has the A12Z) with the A14 processor, this generation iPad Pro will have something close to a 30% better performance and 50% faster in single-core to its previous model at least.

Thunderbolt port over USB-C on the 2021 iPad Pro

As recently reported by Bloomberg, another major update for the 2021 iPad Pro is set to be an expansion of connectivity options. While the current iPad Pro models support USB-C, Apple is rumored to expand to Thunderbolt connectivity this year.

Thunderbolt ports are available on the Mac and would enable iPad Pro users to connect to additional displays and other accessories, as well as transfer files faster. In terms of design, the connector looks the same, but the technology is better. This could also help the iPad Pro better function with external monitors.

5G, 5G, and 5G

Why 5G is slow in the US

As the iPhone 12 is the first iPhone to support 5G bands, the 2021 iPad Pro could be the first iPad with 5G support as well. Expect best-in-class Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support, while the Cellular model could have a revamped antenna design and ultra-speed support with 5G bands.

Since the iPad is bigger than an iPhone, it could be possible that all Cellular models sold by Apple will have mmWave technology support.

If you want to read all rumors about the 2021 iPad Pro, check out our guide here.

iPad Pro 2021 release

While the fifth-generation iPad Pro is expected to be announced on April 20, the model with mini-LED display technology could be delayed for a few weeks at a minimum.

A report from Nikkei last week said that even Apple is hurting with the global semiconductor shortage as production of some iPad and MacBook models are impacted. Today, TSMC, Apple’s primary chipmaker, warned that this will continue for the foreseeable future and well into next year.

How much this shortage will impact Apple’s schedule to launch products i’s still unclear as the company didn’t announce any new product this year, aside from a special edition Apple Watch for Black History Month in February.

Be sure to check 9to5Mac‘s coverage on April 20 at Apple’s “Spring Loaded” event for all the details on the 2021 iPad Pro and more.

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About the Author

José Adorno

Brazilian tech Journalist. Author at 9to5Mac. Previously at Rede Globo, the main TV broadcaster in Latin America.

Got tips, feedback, or questions? jose@9to5mac.com