2020’s Apple Watches May Feature a New Display Type

Apple Watch Concept 2020 Credit: PH Concepts
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Apple is reportedly considering switching its Apple Watch devices over to microLED displays. And according to a new report, that change could happen as soon as next year.

The company has long been rumored to be researching and developing microLED technology. But now, the pieces appear to be coming together — and that could mean big benefits for Apple Watch users.

Supply Chain Reports

The 2020 Apple Watch could sport a microLED display instead of a standard OLED model, according to sources within Apple’s supply chain. According to the Economic Daily News, the tech giant is close to inking deals with two Taiwan-based firms to make that happen.

EDN notes that those two suppliers are believed to be microLED processor maker Yu Chuang and display assembler Sui Bao. Notably, those two firms recently partnered up to supply microLED panels for Samsung devices next year.

Representatives from Sui Bao told EDN that its production lines are ready and that it’s currently in talks with some firm in the “U.S. smart watch industry.” The other company, Yu Chuang, declined to comment.

On the other hand, it’s still likely to take the two firms nearly nine months to mass produce enough supply — and Sui Bao probably won’t start until later this year.

That could mean that the first microLED Apple Watches may officially launch in the fall of 2020.

Benefits of Micro LED

First-party microLED displays could help Apple reduce its reliance on third-party manufacturers. But the technology has a variety of tangible benefits for consumers, too.

  1. MicroLED displays are similar to OLED panels, but they can operate at a higher brightness with lower power consumption. That, of course, could lead to better battery life and a better viewing experience for users.
  2. The technology is also capable of ultra-high resolutions, truer-to-life color saturations, quicker response times, and overall longer lifespan. They can also be made thinner, which could lead to even slimmer devices.

Currently, microLED technology is expensive. That’s likely part of the reason why it may be restricted to smaller devices like the Apple Watch at first. But reports also suggest that Apple is looking into using microLED tech in everything from AR wearables to computers larger than a MacBook.

Apple’s Previous MicroLED Research

Apple has been looking into the microLED market for years now. Way back in 2014, the company acquired LuxVue, a firm that specialized in the development and production of microLED displays.

And last year, a report suggested that Apple was actually developing and researching MicroLED technology at a secret California facility for use in wearables and other devices.

But, like with Apple’s other first-party component efforts, it has seemingly taken the company quite a while to get off the ground. That’s at least partly due to the fact that microLED displays are more complicated than traditional OLED panels.

Because of that, it seems that Apple has resorted to working with third-party firms, like TSMC, to produce microLED displays for its Apple Watch devices.

Despite some bumps in the road related to lack of progress, it looks like Apple is still working with Taiwanese firms to source microLED panels — even as it continues its own research into the area.

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