Apple Watch on Track to Include Advanced Micro-LED Display ‘As Soon As 2018’

Apple’s micro-LED plans are making headlines again today, with

Nikkei
quoting industry sources that believe the
Cupertino company is still on track for a wide adoption of
micro-LED screens in its wearable devices “as soon as 2018.” That
timeline fits into a previous report from May, which pegged Apple
for a trial
production of micro-LED displays
by the end of 2017, and a
predicted inclusion on an Apple Watch launched in 2018 or later.

If true, analysts speculate as to whether this means Apple
would then cut dependence on Samsung and its production of OLED
screens currently used on Apple Watch. Separately, another
rumor has suggested that Samsung is looking into
purchasing micro-LED manufacturer PlayNitride
, which could
then lead into a scenario where Apple sources micro-LED screens
from Samsung for Apple Watch. Falling in line with previous
reports, Nikkei‘s sources state that Apple’s micro-LED
efforts will be housed in a plant in Taoyuan, Taiwan.


According to a person with knowledge of the display industry,
Apple remains “the only company” that could potentially roll
out micro-LED on a wide scale at this early stage in the
technology’s development. Devices with micro-LED have the
chance to be thinner, lighter, see an improved color gamut with
increased brightness, and sport higher resolutions. Micro-LED
isn’t expected to become a leader in the smartphone display
supply chain, including that of iPhone, until 2020 at the
earliest.

“Apple is working very hard to foster the micro-LED technology
… the company could push the use of new display tech as early
as next year,” said an executive with close knowledge of
display technology.

“At this point, Apple is the only company who is able to roll
out micro-LED, a technology that is still at an early stage
of development, and cover the high costs incurred by the low
yield rate,” the person said.

According to Eric Chiou, an analyst at research
company WitsView in Taipei, “With micro-LED, Apple is looking to
bestow brand-new products with unique designs to really
differentiate itself from rivals such as Samsung.” Of course,
being so far out from a product launch with a micro-LED screen,
it’s impossible to know exactly what Apple plans to do with the
technology, whether it’s placed within a next-generation Apple
Watch or a separate, unannounced device.

Apple’s production ramp-up on micro-LED is said to be the final
realization of its acquisition
of low-power microLED-based display maker LuxVue in 2014, with
rumors specifically surrounding a new micro-LED-powered Apple
Watch beginning in
summer 2016
. Foxconn is also entering the micro-LED supply
chain, with plans to acquire display startup eLux, “for
development of next-generation micro-LED display technology.”

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