Sketchy rumor claims iPad Pro 2024 will downgrade to LCD display — but I don’t buy it

iPad Pro 2022
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

There have been a lot of rumors about the 2024 iPad Pro range, many of which point towards Apple finally adding an OLED display to one or more of the tablets. But one sketchy new rumor claims that the opposite could happen, suggesting Apple would revert back to an LCD display panel. Which just goes to show that you probably shouldn’t believe everything you read online.

A new report from DigiTimes claims that the 12.9-inch iPad Pro will come with this, now frankly antiquated, display panel when it launches next year. This would restore some parity with the 11-inch iPad Pro, but in the worst way possible. 

The current 12.9-inch iPad Pro 2022 has a “Liquid Retina XDR display," which uses a mini-LED backlight. The 11-inch model has a simpler Liquid Retina Display, which uses a single LED backlight. This is the same kind of display panel used in lesser iPads, including the entry level iPad 10 — which isn’t very “Pro” if you ask me.

Downgrading the iPad Pro makes no sense

DigiTimes claims that the high cost of a mini-LED display is too prohibitive and a “hurdle for broader industry adoption”. It speculates that Apple’s aim to reverse course “"could be motivated by the company's focus on scalability and market penetration."

I can understand this logic to explain why Apple hasn’t made wider use of mini-LED displays on other products. So far it’s only been utilized on the 12.9-inch iPad Pro and larger MacBook Pros, which command a much higher price tag and can better absorb the increased production costs. 

The fact that we’ve only seen the tech on larger screens also has me wondering whether there are scalability issues that would prohibit the use of mini-LED on smaller displays — which would explain the disparity between 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros.

A lot of things don’t make sense about claims Apple may devolve the 12.9-inch iPad Pro next year. For starters, Apple isn’t the kind of company to reverse course unless things are really bad, as they were with the universally-panned MacBook butterfly keyboards. Plus, given rumors that the iPad Pro could be subject to a price hike next year, it makes no sense for Apple to start stripping features away. 

That’s especially true considering the Pro range is often the jumping point for other major features. They were the first devices to swap Lightning for USB-C, and the first mini-LED display on an Apple product was the iPad Pro. That’s why the rumors of an OLED iPad Pro make so much sense. 

Despite the fact iPhones have had OLED displays for so long, the rest of Apple’s line-up hasn’t caught up — and the iPad Pro is the obvious place to begin. Once again because any additional costs of adopting OLED can be absorbed by the tablet’s high price. Considering OLED displays are already pretty widespread, which isn't true of mini-LED and micro-LED, it means there's no expensive research and development involved.

So, once Apple has the production capacity and supply chains in place, which would likely coincide with decreased costs, the screens can roll out to cheaper devices. According to recent rumors we may even see that as soon as 2026.

Don’t believe everything you read online 

But logic aside, MacRumors notes that DigiTimes’ report contains a bunch of inconsistencies that cast doubt on the whole story. Apparently an early version of the story made mention of a 12.9-inch iPad Air that would be getting an LCD panel, rather than mini-LED, which would make sense. But references to this tablet were later removed, only making reference to a new iPad Air coming at some point — which we already knew about. 

To make matters worse, the report also mentions a sizeless OLED iPad Pro that’s set to launch early next year. It’s something we’ve heard a lot about, and it’s a change iPad fans are eagerly anticipating. But it makes no sense for Apple to offer this kind of upgrade while simultaneously offering a slightly different, downgraded device.

Based on the inconsistencies in this report, and the fact there’s no logical reason for Apple to launch an LCD 12.9-inch iPad Pro, I’d be very surprised if this report proved to be accurate. But we won’t know for sure until Apple actually announces a new iPad Pro generation — which isn’t likely to happen before the end of the year.

In the meantime you can read up on the latest news and rumors in our iPad Pro 2024 hub.

More from Tom's Guide

Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.