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iPad Air tipped to get huge OLED display upgrade — and MacBook Pros are next

iPad Air 4 review
(Image credit: Henry T. Casey/Tom's Guide)

Rumors of OLED displays for future iPad Air and iPad Pro tablets have got another shot in the arm, with production for OLED-equipped iPads slated to start this year. And larger OLED MacBook Pro models could be on the way, too. 

That’s according to a report by DigiTimes, which claims that an iPad with a 10.9-inch OLED display could go into production at the end of 2021 ready for a release in 2022. Then after that, Apple could turn its attention to the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and potentially the 16-inch MacBook Pro, though Cupertino has reportedly not yet committed to OLED panels for its laptops. 

DigiTimes preumably got all this through its industry sources — we’re guessing people involved in Apple's supply chain, rather than Cupertino insiders — so we need to take such rumors with a pinch of salt. But the report adds credence that new iPads could get a big display boost in the near future. 

That’s not to say that the LCD panels used in the current iPads are bad by any stretch. The Liquid Retina display in the iPad Pro models is partially impressive, with their 120Hz ProMotion refresh rate. But OLED panels, now found across the iPhone 12 range tend to offer better colors and contrast than their LCD counterparts, so would likely be a major upgrade for future iPads, especially when it comes to viewing photos and watching videos. 

Given DigiTimes’ sources mention a 10.9-inch iPad, which happens to be the same display size as the latest iPad Air, we can posit that Apple’s mid-range tablet will be the first to get an OLED display. At first glance, it seems odd that the iPad Air would get OLED first, but something better is on tap for the iPad Pro it seems. 

The iPad Pro 2021 is expected to get a mini-LED display this month at Apple's Spring event. An upgrade over traditional LCD screens, mini-LED delivers a wider contrast ratio and deeper blacks, similar to OLED, but with even higher brightness and less risk of burn in. 

Given the iPad Air was upgraded last year with a new Pro-like design, the wait until 2022 for an upgraded model seems relatively logical. 

MacBook Pro with OLED  

MacBook Pro 16-Inch

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Arguably more interesting is the idea that a 16-inch or potentially 17-inch MacBook Pro could come with an OLED display. 

In the current MacBook Pro and MacBook Air, the LCD Retina displays are pretty impressive with solid color accuracy. But the move to OLED could see even better colors and contrast, ideal for professional photo and video editors. 

But OLED displays have popped up in Windows 10 laptops and they can ramp up prices pretty steeply. So we’d hazard a guess that a 16-inch MacBook Pro with an OLED display isn't going to be wallet-friendly. 

Time will tell if this insider information bears fruit. But we’re quietly optimistic that OLED iPads are on their way.  

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer is U.K. Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.