Apple plans to produce and release an Apple Watch boasting next-generation micro-LED display technology, which could arrive on the scene as early as next year, according to sources with knowledge of the company’s imminent plans who were cited in a report published on Thursday by the Nikkei Asian Review. The report goes on to cite that Apple is currently the “only company” in position for such a broad rollout of micro-LED technology — a next-generation OLED display tech that’s currently in its infancy.
“Apple is working very hard to foster the micro-LED technology … the company could push the use of new display tech as early as next year,” said an executive with close knowledge of Micro-LED display tech, who added that “At this point, Apple is the only company who is able to roll out micro-LED, a technology that is still at an early stage of development, and cover the high costs incurred by the low yield rate.”
What Is a Micro-LED Display?
Micro-LED is a relatively new display technology that surpasses even OLED display tech in both performance, color reproduction, and features, according to TrendForce. It’s a burgeoning technology first brought to the general market by Sony back in 2012, when the Japanese tech-giant launched its massive 55-inch “Crystal LED Display” — a new type of micro-LED display incorporating Full HD Resolution.
Unlike standard OLED display technology, however, which is currently used in the Apple Watch and all-but-certain to debut on the company’s upcoming iPhone 8 flagship, Micro-LED combines elements of TFT-LCD and LED tech to produce an all-around higher-quality image.
“Micro LED displays combine TFT-LCD and LED technology features, and is a more mature technology in terms of material, manufacturing process, and equipment development than OLED technology,” according to TrendForce. “Additionally, micro LEDs product specs are much more advanced than TFT-LCD or OLED, and covers wider applications including flexibility, transparent displays, and is a more feasible next generation display technology.”
If Apple does, in fact, plan to create a next-generation Apple Watch featuring a micro-LED display, the move would confirm previous reports that the company plans to begin testing the technology by producing a few trial units within the second-half of 2017, and experimenting with them prior to engaging in talks over larger-scale production in the near future, according to DigiTimes.
The Nikkei report, meanwhile, suggests that if all goes according to plan, Apple could technically begin trial production of a micro-LED-equipped Apple Watch by as early as the latter-end of 2017, suggesting that an early- to mid-2018 debut of the wearable isn’t an unrealistic proposition.