Apple is reportedly making its own Micro LED screens for the iPhone. Bloomberg (opens in new tab)‘s Mark Gurman reports that by making its own Micro LED displays, Apple would become less dependent on OLED panels supplied by third-party companies such as Samsung and LG.
But it couldn’t completely ditch these Korean giants. According to the report, Apple would still outsource the physical creation of the screens to other companies that would work with Apple’s designs.
Apple has already done this by making its own processors for its Mac computers. By designing the M1 and M2 itself and relying only on chip builder TSMC to bring its designs to life, Apple has much more control over the specs of its processors, giving its Macs better performance and battery life. The same could be true for other devices if Apple makes its own custom displays.
Apple has reportedly lined up the Apple Watch as the first device with an Apple Micro LED screen. It could include this panel as early as next year, though it could shift to 2025, Gurman says. Apple has certainly done its job – Micro LED screens are currently only used in large TVs, although Samsung will launch a 50-inch Micro LED TV this year.
Still, it would be a big challenge to reduce the technology to a screen that fits on your wrist.
The current iPhone range includes OLED screens. Like OLED, Micro LED screens are self-emissive (i.e. they create their own light without backlighting). But instead of using organic light-emitting diodes, they use small, non-organic LEDs – three per pixel. That means each pixel can be turned on or off individually, or display a completely different color than the pixel next to it. The result is essentially perfect contrast and color control.
This is not the first rumor about Apple and Micro LED screens. All the way back in 2014, Apple acquired a Micro LED startup called LuxView, while in 2018, rumors circulated that Apple was developing its own Micro LED display for the Apple Watch. Apple would also make its own VR headset – something for which Micro LED’s greater brightness, energy efficiency and longer lifespan could be ideally suited.
While we could see an Apple Micro LED in the Apple Watch as early as next year, it hasn’t been expected to appear in iPhones for years, according to the report. We’re sure to hear a lot more about it before then, so stay tuned.
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