Science

Apple reportedly investing in MicroLED screen production

Apple reportedly investing in MicroLED screen production

According to a fresh report from Bloomberg, the smartwatch could soon feature the budding display technology, with Apple looking to make a "significant investment" over the coming years. MicroLED screens are part of an effort to reduce battery usage and slim down smartphones and other portable devices. More importantly, we reported back in November that Apple was working with TSMC on a micro-LED project to enhance manufacturing of future micro-LED displays which up to this point has been very hard to reach mass production status.

People who are familiar with the situation said that the project was nearly abandoned a year ago but now it is making significant progress. Customers need to wait for few years for getting the required results. The move may also be damaging to Universal Display Corp, which is one of the key inventors of the OLED technology.

The iPhone maker is reportedly finalising talks with LG on an OLED supply deal which could see the latter provide its panels for this year's iPhone with edge-to-edge display.

As reports about Apple cutting iPhone X display orders surfaced, Samsung Display downplayed the potential impact on its business by saying that its business "will not be affected much by a certain customer".

Fortunately for the Asian suppliers unless Apple has made an inovation in the technology, it is unlikely to be different from what is available now. However, because each pixel has its own light in a MicroLED array, it throws up some manufacturing challenges.

The news of the secret project shook the markets immediately. So, the firm might have to push the project back. Apple will likely end up outsourcing mass production of the displays to an industry partner. This will be the first time Apple has developed and produced its own device displays and they are starting with the Apple Watch. Currently, Apple uses OLED for the iPhone X and the Apple Watch, but it looks like that will be changing down the line.

Smartphone manufacturers design screens according to their specifications. Separately, there were reports that the company is using its R&D center in Taiwan for the MicroLED display technology. The small portion of the screen is connected to the computer board. It's also significantly brighter than OLED, and has a longer lifespan. Engineers have a finer level of control over individual colors. Even so, the first mass-market products that will include MicroLED screens will not be ready this year and perhaps not even the next.


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