Sketchy Rumor Claims 'iPad Mini Pro' Launching in Second Half of 2021
Apple is expected to launch a sixth-generation iPad mini in the first half of 2021, possibly as soon as this March, based on long-standing rumors. However, a new rumor out of Asia that has gained traction in the last 24 hours suggests an "iPad mini Pro" will arrive in the second half of this year.
According to a post on Korean blog Naver, whose rumor track record is unknown, the device features an 8.7-inch display, which is housed in a chassis that has an increased width and reduced height compared to the existing iPad mini 5.
This so-called "iPad mini Pro" has allegedly passed Apple's initial R&D and product planning stages of development, and is currently in design "P2" stage, with Apple set to begin design validation tests (DVT) soon. In a typical product roadmap, Apple would then submit it for production validation tests before green-lighting the device for mass production.
In a potentially related rumor, occasional Chinese leaker Kang on Tuesday claimed a "full-screen, smaller-sized iPad" was currently in the P2 design stage and still awaiting engineering validation tests. No further details were given. At any rate, such a device would still need to overcome several hurdles before any launch.
The iPad mini most recently got a refreshed design in 2015 with its fourth iteration. While the device did receive a minor update in 2019 with the A12 Bionic chip, a True Tone display, Bluetooth 5.0, and Apple Pencil support, the iPad mini is considered overdue for an update.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in May 2020 that the next-generation iPad mini will have a display that measures in at 8.5 to 9 inches, up from the current 7.9-inch screen size, while a recent report from Japanese site Mac Otakara, citing supply chain sources in China, said that the next iPad mini will have an 8.4-inch display. Similar 8.x-inch iPad mini sizes have been reported by other sources.
However, unlike the iPad Pro and iPad Air, which have in recent years shed their large bezels and home buttons for a more modern all-screen design, the sixth-generation iPad mini will reportedly stick with its current design language. Mac Otakara's report explains that the iPad mini will enlarge its display by reducing its bezels, but it will look similar to the iPad Air 3, with a Touch ID Home Button, large top and bottom bezels, and a Lightning port.
Mac Otakara believes that this refreshed iPad mini will see a March launch, so it could perhaps debut at an event later this month, if Apple sticks to recent tradition. This also fits in with Kuo's claim that the next iPad mini will come in the first half of 2021.
Interestingly, Kuo has said in the past that Apple is working on an iPad mini with a mini-LED display, but it seems unlikely that the iPad mini 6 would gain this significantly upgraded display considering that it has not yet come to any other Apple device. That said, today's "iPad mini Pro" rumor doesn't reference mini-LED at all.
Apple is accelerating adoption of mini-LED in its iPad and Mac notebook lineups, and the iPad Pro is expected to be the first product to get a mini-LED display. Kuo has previously said that production of a mini-LED version of the 12.9-inch iPad Pro began in the fourth quarter of 2020, with a launch expected in the first half of 2021.
DigiTimes also believes a mini-LED iPad Pro will launch in early 2021, as does Korea's ETNews. Whether or not a mini-LED "iPad mini Pro" will follow, and how such a device would fit into Apple's current iPad lineup, remains to be seen.