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Apple’s Now Working on a Major MicroLED Display Partnership

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Just days after senior DigiTimes analyst, Luke Lin, published a report indicating that Apple plans to develop its own microLED display panels for devices like Apple Watch and more, yet another DigiTimes report out asserts that the company is currently engaged in preliminary talks with a Taiwanese firm PlayNitride — with hopes of collaborating to penetrate the microLED market.

DigiTimes analyst Adam Hwang notes that the firm has already established a microLED fabrication line developing their proprietary PixeLED panels, which may “be of interest” to Apple for use in some of its future products.

The report goes on to add that PlayNitride has recently received approval from the Taiwanese government to move ahead with plans to invest NT 500 million ($17.1 million) in an all-new MicroLED fabrication line near the Hsinchu Science Park in northern Taiwan.

“PlayNitride will produce micro LEDs, display modules and panels there,” Hwang noted.

What’s So Special About MicroLED?

MicroLEDs boast a number of technological upgrades compared to their standard LED counterparts, including higher peak brightness with lower power consumption, ultra high-resolutions capable of rendering true-to-life color saturation, quicker response times and long service life.

Best of all, microLED panels can be used in everything from smartphones, to smartwatches, VR devices and even large-screen televisions.

Apple’s interest in the burgeoning technology was first brought to light back in 2015, when reports surfaced that the company opened its own “secret laboratory” in a Taiwanese province, where a team of Apple employees and specialists were working to research microLED tech.

In the years since, Apple has reportedly downsized its operation at the Taoyuan, Taiwan facility and shifted its efforts closer to the heart of Silicon Valley, California. Earlier this year, a Bloomberg report revealed that Apple may be working out of a newer, upgraded facility in Santa Clara, California, just a stones-throw away from its Cupertino headquarters, where it has allegedly been designing and producing microLED display samples.

From OLED to MicroLED

Currently, Apple employs organic light emitting diode (OLED) display panels in small devices like the Apple Watch and iPhone X — however, microLED is widely considered to be the company’s next display technology frontier. It’s expected that Apple will one day employ microLED displays in everything from Apple Watches to iPhones, iPads and more.

There’s also rumors circulating that microLED will be employed in Apple’s upcoming augmented reality glasses — given its impressive technological capabilities including improved color accuracy, contrast ratios, and more natural black presentation, it only seems fitting that would be the case.

Unfortunately, while Apple’s larger-scale transition away from the rapidly-aging liquid crystal display (LCD) over to OLED is still several years away, it’s certainly promising to see the company take charge on bringing the technology to market sooner than later.

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