Apple Watch likely to adopt MicroLED screen in upcoming iterations
Image credit: VentureBeat

Apple Watch models are likely to be fitted with MicroLED displays instead of the current OLED ones, 3-4 years down the line.

Epistar, Taiwan’s leading LED manufacturer, is reportedly working on a factory to manufacture MicroLED displays specifically for future Apple products. Apple supposedly is investing $330M in Epistar for manufacturing microLED displays for future iPads, iPhones, MacBooks, and other Apple devices.

According to reports from DigiTimes, Lee Biing-jye, the chairman of Epistar, spoke about their new project with Apple. He said that “Smartwatches will be the first major application for MicroLED with volume adoption likely to take place 3-4 years from now.

Epistar has overcome many MicroLED technological difficulties, such as mass transfer, and expects to achieve reliable production capability in 2-3 years and introduce end-market applications in 3-4 years.”

Why is MicroLED a top priority for Apple?

Why is MicroLED considered to be better than the current LCD and OLED screens? 

To begin with, MicroLEDs are thinner and more energy-efficient. Their power consumption is one-tenth that of an LCD screen, and they support higher brightness, higher dynamic range, and wider color gamut.

Apple Watch likely to adopt MicroLED screen in upcoming iterations
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The production of MicroLED calls for the use of glass substrates due to their smaller size. The PCB substrates that are currently used support minimum sizes of 50-100 microns, whereas MicroLEDs are of 20-50 microns in size.

The glass substrates for manufacturing microLEDs are believed to be supplied by Taiwanese LCD panel maker AU Optronics while Epistar will be focusing on improving the yield rates for microLED epitaxy and reducing cost mass transfer.

However, microLED technology is difficult to develop and produce. Therefore, the early designs are relying on miniLEDs, which is somewhere in between microLED and LED.

According to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple will debut the miniLED technology in its 2020 and 2021 products. MiniLEDs will be featured in the upcoming iPad Pro (12.9 inch and 10.2 inch), iPad mini(7.9inch), MacBook Pro (14.1 inch and 16 inch), and iMac (27 inch). 

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