Report: Apple developing microLED displays with TSMC for Apple Watch and augmented reality wearable

Backing up claims made by Bloomberg last week, Apple is once again reported to be working on microLED displays for future products, in a Digitimes article published today.

The report says the screens are destined for future high-end Apple Watch models and an augmented reality wearable device, measuring around 1.4 and 0.8 inches respectively.

The Bloomberg report highlighted Apple’s efforts to research and develop microLED in-house at a secret facility in California.

Digitimes says that the company is partnering with TSMC to help bring microLED to market, with the creation of micro LED panels on silicon back-planes.

Interestingly, Digitimes estimates that Apple could start making these panels for Apple Watch as soon as the end of the year. The Bloomberg report was more pessimistic (and also probably more realistic and reliable) with a 2020 approximate time window.

The earliest I expect to see this in a mass-market product like Apple Watch is 2019. A microLED iPhone will be even further out due to the sheer scale of iPhone sales.

microLED displays offer significant benefits over OLED or LCD, with significantly higher brightness levels, better energy efficiency and thinner panels. In bringing microLED to market, Apple is facing issues of cost and scale. The Digitimes analyst says microLED display for Apple Watch may cost 5x as much as the current OLED screen.

As well as Apple Watch and maybe an AR headset, the report notes Apple is also interested in creating microLED displays for even larger products in the future, like laptops and desktops.

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