Apple’s MicroLED dream: what it means for the Apple Watch and beyond

Apple reportedly plans to build MicroLED displays into future Apple Watch models — either in 2024 or 2025, according to a January 10 report. report from bloomberg. This step will continue Apple’s progress toward using the company’s proprietary parts across its products without having to rely on components from third-party suppliers. Another report from Mark Gurman just this week said that Apple is currently working on an all-in-one chip that handles Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular networking. The company’s in-house silicon already powers its iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV.

With all of these efforts, the ultimate goal for Apple is to have greater control over future products while minimizing the risk of delays and setbacks outside the company’s control. With displays in particular, this shift could affect the financial prospects of suppliers like Samsung Display and LG Display, which supply the bulk of Apple’s current panels.

But as it is today, whether you buy the Apple Watch Series 8, Ultra, or SE, you are Previously Get a smart watch with a bright and vibrant screen. So it’s worth examining what benefits – if any – next-generation MicroLED technology will bring to Apple’s wearables and other devices.

Close-up of Samsung MicroLED.

a:hover]:text-gray-63 text-gray-63 dark:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray”>Photo by Chris Welch/The Verge

Often hailed as the next major leap in display technology after OLED, MicroLED displays provide many of the same benefits. The image is generated by millions of individual light-emitting diodes that provide dimming to each pixel; Each one can stop producing a perfect black. This results in the unrivaled contrast we’ve been enjoying from OLED TVs and smartphones for years; Recently, OLED has been increasingly used in tablets, laptops, and desktop monitors.

But the O in OLED stands for “organic,” and it turns out that’s actually a downside. The organic compound in OLED screens has a limited lifespan and it still comes at a minimum Some The chance of permanent burnout – even if that’s hardly a factor in modern high-end TVs. Overall brightness also fell short of the best LCD TVs, which use miniature LED backlighting and local dimming to try to get close to OLED’s great contrast with higher sustained brightness.

Samsung Display and LG Display have both made great progress with brighter OLED panels over the past couple of years — QD-OLED in Samsung’s case — but MicroLED promises greater luminance without the issues of burn-in or panel deterioration. Samsung has offered MicroLED displays that reach 4,000 nits of peak brightness, which is double what the best OLED and LCD TVs can offer at the moment. This is a level of pop that can hold up any Environment. Like the iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max, the Apple Watch Ultra bests out at 2,000 nits in bright outdoor environments. It’s still very bright and perfectly visible in sunny conditions, but the MicroLED can up your game even further.

If there’s one company that has led the way so far with MicroLED, it’s Samsung. The company gave an update on the state of things at CES 2023. If you’re a display geek or a tech enthusiast in general, the video below is worth watching to understand more about the advantages of MicroLED, its modularity, and how it all fits together. You’ll learn a lot in less than eight minutes.

In this voiceover, you’ll hear this key line: “MicroLEDs have unlimited scalability, because they’re resolution-free, bezel-free, proportion-free, and even size-free. This means the screen can be freely resized in any shape for whatever purpose you use it for.” Order it — just like the building block.” MicroLEDs are housed in modules that can be seamlessly integrated into any shape or size. In addition to being self-emitting, MicroLEDs individually produce red, green and blue without the need for the same backlights or color filters as conventional displays. So monitors can reproduce optimal colors and enhanced color brightness. As with QD-OLED, the superior color brightness makes the entire screen brighter on your eyes.

Since MicroLED technology is still so young, it is very expensive for early adopters. Want to install Samsung’s The Wall in your home? You are looking for $800,000. So it’s critical that these displays catch on and reach more products so costs come down – for both the manufacturer and the consumers.

not exactly. bloomberg Reports indicate that MicroLED displays “will be Apple’s first displays designed and developed entirely in-house,” but that doesn’t mean the company will suddenly start making tens of millions of these same panels. As always, Apple will turn to manufacturing partners to produce whatever is in development at the moment. According to the report, the company is “conducting test manufacturing of the screens” at a facility in Santa Clara, California, but ultimately, the task of mass production will fall to a supplier. This is how it works with other company monitors. For example, Apple comes up with the design and specifications of its iPhone panels and hands them over to Samsung Display and LG Display.

In fact, when I was visiting LG Display’s booth at CES last week in Las Vegas, there was the iPhone 14 Pro Max sitting in plain sight as an example of the company’s OLED craftsmanship. My first thought was “Uh, did Apple approve of this?” confidentiality and all that. My second thought was, “No one is afraid of this stuff anymore.”

Photo of iPhone 14 Pro Max on a table.

a:hover]:text-gray-63 text-gray-63 dark:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray”>Photo by Chris Welch/The Verge

But since MicroLED is such a new and evolving technology, it comes with new challenges not present with traditional LCD and OLED screens. Apple has been in the business for a while now, and apparently, the original goal was to start including MicroLED screens in Apple products as early as 2020. “But the project has been languishing due to high costs and technical challenges,” he said. bloomberg. Apple originally intended to start with larger screens but scaled back those ambitions (literally) when faced with technical hurdles. There are only so many companies with the means and know-how to mass-produce MicroLED screens: I wouldn’t be surprised if Samsung and LG continue to be involved in the mix somewhere.

We also haven’t seen MicroLED displays very often in small form factors like smartwatches. Samsung’s idea to shrink the technology is to fit it into a TV-sized screen. But since Apple isn’t likely to introduce MicroLED displays until 2024 (or even 2025), there’s plenty of time to get there. Wearable devices and head-worn displays will eventually become the leading use case for MicroLED, According to Display Supply Chain Consultantswhich estimates that revenue related to display technology will grow to $1.3 billion by 2027.

A woman leans on the edge of a pool wearing an Apple Watch Ultra next to a No Diving sign.

a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin [&>a]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-highlight-franklin dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-white md:text-30″>What exactly do we gain?

This is the most curious aspect of the whole thing for me. Here are the benefits bloomberg He says MicroLED will bring to the Apple Watch:

Compared to current Apple Watches, next-generation displays are designed to deliver brighter, more vibrant colors and the ability to see at a better angle. The screens make the content look as if it’s been painted on glass, according to people who’ve seen them, who asked not to be identified because the project is still in the works.

I would argue that all of these things are true of the current Apple Watch lineup today. The screens are already readable in intense sunlight (as in the image above), they’re vibrant and colorful, and since all of Apple’s OLED panels are bonded to the screen glass, I’m not sure how close to the surface content can appear. I don’t hear anyone complaining about viewing angles or reduced brightness from recent Apple Watches. But MicroLED’s more efficient screen technology could certainly help extend battery life to new highs, and that is very Important.

MicroLED’s natural RGB colors could add more saturation and increase overall color brightness (which in turn would increase the perceived brightness of the device as a whole), but I wouldn’t expect MicroLED’s dramatic visual improvements in the wearable category. When these displays make their way to the iPhone, iPad, and MacBook Pro, the upgrades will be even more apparent to our eyes. At the end of the day, we’re just taking the inevitable step from current display technology to the next. Apple continues to drive forward in its relentless pursuit of complete self-sufficiency.

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