Apple Reportedly Developing MicroLED Panels for Apple Watch, AR Wearables

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Apple Reportedly Developing MicroLED Panels for Apple Watch, AR Wearables

Highlights

  • Apple is working with Taiwanese company TSMC to make MicroLED panels
  • Panels are under production for a future Apple Watch model, AR wearable
  • MicroLED panel for Apple Watch may enter mass production this year

Apple is reportedly getting closer to incorporating MicroLED in its future products, including the Apple Watch. Compared to TFT and OLED screens, MicroLED is a superior display technology that potentially offers reduced thickness, brighter screens, and less power consumption. Earlier this month, a report had claimed that the Cupertino giant is making significant investments in developing next-gen MicroLED screens. Now, a new report has suggested that the company is already working with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) on small and large screens for three new devices.

Research analyst Luke Lin, in a Digitimes report, has suggested that two different sizes of smaller panels are being produced in the Apple-TSMC partnership. According to Lin's supply chain sources, a 1.3-inch to 1.4-inch panel is under production for a future Apple Watch model and another 0.7-inch to 0.8-inch variant will be produced for an "AR wearable device," which could be an Apple headset.

According to Lin, Apple at the start will only adopt the microLED panel in the premium models of its upcoming Apple Watch series. This is because the costs of the new micro LED panels are 400 to 600 percent higher than those of the existing OLED panels that are used, Lin says.

Also, larger MicroLED panels with TFT-based backplanes have also been planned, the report added. However, it is a different project and there is no information on which company Apple will tie-up with, for its production. Lin claims that these panels are meant for screens "much larger" than those used in MacBooks. This could be an indication that the company will introduce them in the iMac and the iMac Pro.

Lin stated that the smaller microLED panel for Apple Watch may enter mass production in the second half of 2018 or in 2019, while the large-sized one may enter mass production in 2019 or later. However, the panel for the AR wearable device does not have a mass production schedule yet, the analyst added.

According to the previous report, Apple is understood to be using a secret manufacturing facility near its California headquarters, where it is designing and producing its own device displays for the first time.

Apple's interest in the new display technology was revealed when it acquired a MicroLED firm called LuxVue back in 2014. Even a report in 2017 had claimed that Apple was working with LuxVue to develop a new microLED screen.

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