A new report from Digitimes talks about Apple developing new microLED displays with TSMC, which could in-turn make its way to an augmented reality wearable as well as upcoming iterations of the Apple Watch. The displays will reportedly measure 1.4 and 0.8 inches, which should be adequate for the Apple Watch and a new AR based wearable. We have previously heard about Apple wanting to switch to microLED panels for iPhones and the Apple Watch.
Digitimes mentions that these microLED panels with TSMC could go into production as soon as this year. A Bloomberg report from last week, however, was slightly cautious and predicted a 2020 timeline. Either way, this news gives us some clarification on Apple’s plans for future devices, particularly the AR based wearable. The healthy presence of ARKit apps right now is certainly a precursor for bigger plans from the company.
As most of you are aware, Apple recently made the switch to OLED panels with the iPhone X, which faced some initial hurdles but made it through. So it’s only feasible for Apple to consider a similar approach with the Apple Watch and any potential future devices it has lined up. Apple first took the OLED route with the Apple Watch, followed by the iPhone X last year. So the technology is not really new for Apple.
It’s too soon to tell when we will actually see a microLED-display equipped Apple Watch in the market, but the fact that Apple is working on it right now gives fans some solace. The Bloomberg report from last week also mentioned that Apple was eager to develop its microLED panels at its own “secret” unit in California.
The microLED manufacturing process by TSMC will reportedly be based on silicon back-planes. An analyst from Digitimes went on to say that production costs of microLED panels will be 5X higher compared to the OLED panels used on the Apple Watch. So cost and supply are some of the key issues that Apple has to tackle before bringing this idea to fruition. The report adds that Apple is also looking to bring microLED displays to bigger consumer products that the company sells, although this plan could be even further down the line.