It pays to be forward-thinking in the tech world, and a new report suggests that Apple is already looking beyond OLED displays for its future products, even though the company has yet to implement OLED technology in its smartphones (this year’s iPhone 8 is largely expected to make that switch).
What Is a Micro-LED Display?
Micro-LED technology shares a lot of characteristics with current OLED displays, as it would provide faster display response, more efficient energy use and greater contrast than LCD panels. But micro-LCD technology is still a few years away from mass production, and the tech has yet to be used in any major consumer devices. When it does reach the mainstream market, it has a lot of potential to challenge OLED display panels in the wake of LCD’s fading popularity — and it could be used in products like smartphones, virtual reality devices and televisions.
Apple’s Plan for Micro-LED Displays
Apple is reportedly taking steps to produce a small batch of micro-LED display panels at its plant in Taoyuan, Taiwan, according to a supply chain report published Wednesday by DigiTimes. Specifically, Apple is looking to perform trial production of micro-LED products in the second half of 2017 to evaluate the technology’s inclusion in future consumer products. According to the publication, Apple has been keen on developing micro-LED tech since it acquired Taiwan-based startup LuxVue in 2014. Interestingly, LuxVue is also the inventor of a patent for a method to embed a fingerprint sensor underneath a display panel. That patent was transferred to Apple when LuxVue was acquired.
According to DigiTimes, Apple isn’t the only company looking toward Micro LED displays in the short term. Another Taiwanese company, PlayNitride, is also preparing for a trial production run of micro-LED products in the latter half of 2017. PlayNitride, notably, has been targeted by Samsung for possible acquisition. Long-time Apple supplier Foxconn Electronics is also looking to edge its way into the market, as the company recently announced plans to acquire U.S.-based micro-LED startup eLux, according to Nikkei. This could pave the way for widespread commercial popularization of micro-LED displays, DigiTimes added.