Report: Apple to feature six products with mini-LEDs, including a 14.1-inch MacBook Pro

In a new note sent to investors and seen by MacRumors, noted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that Apple is developing six different products that will use mini-LED displays.

This is Kuo’s forte; digging up inside info from Apple’s supply chain about the parts they’re working on for upcoming products. Naturally, this doesn’t mean the information is guaranteed to be accurate, and even if it is, plans often change.

The six products are said to be releasing in 2020 and 2021, and include the following:

  • 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌
  • 10.2-inch ‌iPad‌
  • 7.9-inch ‌iPad‌ mini
  • 27-inch ‌iMac Pro‌
  • 14.1-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌
  • 16-inch ‌MacBook Pro‌

In other words, it looks like Apple is moving its MacBook Pro, iMac Pro, and iPad line over to mini-LEDs, and it’s just a matter of when each of these products will launch.

Kuo specifically mentions the 14.1-inch MacBook Pro as an upgrade from the 13.3-inch model of today. Just as the new 16-inch MacBook Pro has smaller bezels around the display to fit into a body about the size of the old 15-inch MacBook Pro, we expect this 14.1-inch model to do the same for the 13.3-inch MacBook Pro. The 16-inch MacBook Pro and iMac Pro are expected to be upgrades to the current models, and could ship late this year.

What is mini-LED?

Mini-LED is the latest development in backlighting technology for high-end consumer displays. A mini-LED display is still an LCD, and very much like a LED-backlit television with “full array local dimming.” Except instead of a couple hundred small LEDs, you have thousands of them. This allows the manufacturer to control the backlight to a finer degree, and produces better contrast. It’s available in some TCL TVs right now, and may come to other brands over time.

Apple’s new Pro Display XDR falls somewhere between a traditional LED backlight array and mini-LEDs. It uses 576 LEDs in its backlight array, several times that of traditional LED arrays for a display of its size, but still many times fewer than mini-LEDs.

Note that mini-LEDs are not micro-LEDs. Micro-LEDs are not just backlights for an LCD, but are super-tiny self-emissive sub-pixels (much like OLED displays) that don’t require a bunch of filters and polarizers and TFTs. They are dramatically thinner and more power-efficient than traditional displays, with incredibly fast switching speeds and wide color gamuts. They are also incredibly expensive—we may see micro-LED in something small like the Apple Watch soon, but it is probably a long way from appearing in a MacBook or iMac.