iPad Pro 2021 reportedly launching in April — with three big upgrades

iPad Pro 2021 display
(Image credit: Pigtou)

The new iPad Pro 2021 could launch in April and sport an upgraded display, a new Apple Silicon chip and Thunderbolt connectivity, according to a new leak.

Bloomberg reports that people familiar with Cupertino's tablet plans say Apple's new top-of-the-line iPad will feature a mini-LED display, a chipset that is "on par with the faster M1 chip" found in the MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro M1, plus a more versatile Thunderbolt connector. 

Previous leaks had pointed to the iPad Pro 2021 launching as early as next week, but the report from the usually reliable Mark Gurman said he spoke to "people with knowledge of the matter" who push the date back to April. 

The mini-LED and chip upgrade had both been rumored previously, but this is the first hint that Thunderbolt will come to the iPad Pro 2021. 

Apple already uses Thunderbolt 3 ports on its MacBook Air M1 and MacBook Pro M1 models, but current iPad Pro‌ and iPad Air models are stuck with standard USB-C ports.

Gurman said the new iPad Pro 2021 models have been using the Thunderbolt connector in testing. If true, the upgraded ports would give the iPad Pro 2021 faster data syncing, plus additional connectivity with external monitors, hard drives and other peripherals.

iPad Pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The change to a mini-LED display could be a bigger deal, as it will potentially give the iPad Pro 2021 better video playback plus richer visuals for gaming and other content. 

In case you're not fully up to speed, mini-LED is a new backlight technology that backs the LCD panel of the device with diodes that are just a fifth the size of a standard LED. That would enable hundreds of individual LEDs to be packed behind the iPad Pro's screen and would allow for more tightly controlled lighting zones.

As far as the Apple Silicon chip goes, the iPad Pro 2021 is expected to have a revamped A14 chip that would give it comparable performance to the Apple-designed M1 chip

Elsewhere, Gurman's report mentions that the iPad Pro 2021 is expected to have improved cameras, that it will look similar to the current models and that it will be available in the same 11-inch and 12.9-inch display sizes.

We've also previously seen speculation that it will be the first iPad with 5G, and that Apple may be considering making a new Magic Keyboard and an Apple Pencil 3 to go with it. 

Pricing is expected to remain at $750 for the 11-inch iPad Pro and $999 for the 12.9-inch model — which, if it does get the rumored upgrades, would help secure its place on our best tablets list.  

Marc McLaren

Formerly Editor in Chief (U.K.) on Tom’s Guide, Marc oversaw all gaming, streaming, audio, TV, entertainment, how-to and cameras coverage, and was also responsible for the site’s U.K.-focused output. He is now U.K. Editor in Chief on TechRadar. Marc previously edited the tech website Stuff and has tested and written about phones, tablets, wearables, streaming boxes, smart home devices, Bluetooth speakers, headphones, games, TVs, cameras and much more. He also spent years on a music magazine, where his duties mainly involved spoiling other people’s fun, and on a car magazine. An avid photographer, he likes nothing better than taking pictures of very small things (bugs, his daughters) or very big things (distant galaxies). When he gets time, he also enjoys gaming (console and mobile), cycling and attempting to watch as much sport as any human can. He's also fallen in love with Wordle over the past six months and is the author of our today's Wordle answer column, in which he supplies hints and strategy tips for the mega-popular word game. Given he's completed every single Wordle so far and only lost once, and analyzed every Wordle answer in search of patterns, he's well qualified to help you safeguard your streak.