Why the New iPad Pro’s MiniLED screen is a big deal

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The 12.9-inch iPad Pro for 2021 brings a major display upgrade.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro for 2021 brings a major display upgrade.
Picture: Apple

One of Apple’s flagship features Pad Pro 12.9 inches for 2021 is his Liquid Retina XDR display, a display tech you might have seen mentioned before over the super expensive Pro XDR display monitor that Apple also sells. But what exactly do all of these terms mean?

Let’s start with the term Retina, which Apple uses with both the Pro Display XDR and the newer iPad Pros, and which has been used on Apple products for years at this point. It’s kind of the marketing discourse that Apple invented to signify a certain level of resolution and sharpness on a screen, and It has been used in several different products in the Apple line since the term was introduced with the iphone 4 in 2013.

There is actually no fixed standard for what makes a display a Retina display, but generally speaking, it is believed to be a resolution high enough that the human eye cannot distinguish individual pixels. . Obviously, this will vary depending on how far your eyes are from the screen as well as how narrow the pixels are.

These days pretty much all Apple hardware is referred to as Retina, which is why you’ll now see additional words like “liquid” added as well – the Liquid part of Liquid Retina on iPad Pro listings just means even more pixels. per inch, and even less likely your eyes will see pixelation no matter how far you move the screen closer to your face.

BBut what about the XDR part? This is again something Apple has prepared itself for its own products, and you won’t find any other manufacturer using the term for their own displays. Simply put, XDR is an improved version of HDR (High Dynamic Range) which extends its advantages.

HDR Keeps the darkest parts of a screen and the brighter parts of a screen visible at all times with a range of different brightness balancing tips. The idea is that details are visible in the deepest shadows and the brightest highlights, even though both are displayed on one screen at the same time.

The key to HDR is to have a very high contrast ratio, or the difference between the blackest blacks and the whitest whites that a screen can display. WWith XDR, Apple has taken this range even further. The Apple Pro Display XDR can handle 1,000 nits in full screen, sustained brightness, and a peak of 1,600 nits, resulting in a contrast ratio of 1,000,000: 1.

Part of the secret of handling this is having a finely tuned backlight control system, so that really bright pixels can sit next to extremely dark pixels with no bleed. On the Pro Display XDR, Apple says it does this through a combination of advanced LED technology, smart (and faster) image processing, and light shaping (or control how the light is emitted). The monitor has a total of 576 LED zones behind it.

The Apple Pro Display XDR.

The Apple Pro Display XDR.
Picture: Apple

There is also a wide P3 color gamut and 10-bit color depth (supporting 1.073 billion colors), with a resolution of 6016 x 3384 pixels (218 pixels per inch) and a maximum refresh rate of 60Hz. It also uses a blue LED backlight rather than the classic white for better control and better thermal management.

The new 12.9-inch iPad Pro’s Retina XDR technology aims for similar end results, but tackles them in a different way. Here the display technology is not IPS LCD, like is on the Pro Display XDR, but rather on the miniLED in the making. Tthe idea is the same: THere is ultra-fine control over the brightness and gradation of individual pixels, so that very dark blacks and very bright whites are possible.

We wrote more about miniLED display technology here, but roughly this means that the backlight areas behind an LCD screen (like the 576 on the Pro Display XDR) can get even smaller, for even better control and color management. These miniature LEDs can be as small as a fifth of a standard LED size, so the difference can be marked.

MiniLEDs are also seen in televisions and smartphones, and technology under development with the aim of bringing LCD screens closer to the high bar defined by OLED screens. With OLED, each pixel is its own light source, no backlighting or local dimming is required, but OLED is still expensive and difficult to manufacture. Innovations like miniLED are an attempt to get the best functionality LCD and OLED panels.

The larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the one with the XDR upgrade.

The larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro is the one with the XDR upgrade.
Picture: Apple

While Apple premium iPhone now use OLED, the company went with miniLED for the larger iPad Pro model in order to qualify for the XDR label. It achieves the same maximum brightness of 1,000 nits in full screen, 1,600 nits of maximum brightness when playing HDR content, and 1,000,000: 1 contrast ratio as the Pro Display XDR monitor, but in a much more compact form.

It’s quite a technical feat. The Pro models in the iPhone 12 line (with their OLED displays) can handle peak brightness of 1,200 nits, while the all-new 24-inch iMac’s (LCD) displays peak at 500 nits maximum. Since miniLED can handle better brightness levels than OLED, with less battery drain, it might be some time before Apple switches to OLED for its tablets.

The 12.9-inch iPad Pro display packs 10,000 miniLEDs, offering a total of 2,596 local dimming areas, a fantastic number for such a small screen. To round out the specs of this larger iPad Pro we have the wide P3 color gamut, a 2732 x 2Resolution of 048 pixels (264 pixels per inch) and a refresh rate of up to 120Hz.

The XDR label is therefore a label that may be worth spending the extra money on when choosing a new iPad, especially if you spend a lot of time working with images and videos. While Netflix and Hulu will look great on any Apple tablet, the extra brightness and contrast you get with XDR are likely to appeal to creative professionals.


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