Apple is reportedly creating its own Micro LED screens for the iPhone. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports that by creating its own Micro LED screens, Apple would become less reliant on OLED panels supplied by third-party companies like Samsung and LG.
But it couldn't ditch these Korean giants completely. According to the report, Apple would still outsource the physical creation of the displays to other companies who would work from Apple's designs.
Apple has already done this by creating its own processors for its Mac computers. By designing the M1 and M2 itself, and only relying on chip builder TSMC to make its designs come to life, Apple has much more control over the specs of its processors, giving its Macs improved 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 to feature an Apple Micro LED screen. It could feature this panel as soon as next year, though it could slip to 2025, Gurman says. Apple certainly has its work cut out – Micro LED screens are currently only used in big TVs, though Samsung will launch a 50-inch Micro LED TV this year.
But still, shrinking the technology down to a screen that fits on your wrist would be a major challenge.
The current iPhone range features OLED displays. Just like OLED, Micro LED screens are self-emissive (i.e. they create their own light without needing a backlight). But instead of using organic light emitting diodes they use tiny, non-organic LEDs – three per pixel. That means that each pixel can be turned on or off individually, or can display a completely different colour to the one next to it. The result is essentially perfect contrast and colour control.
This isn't the first rumour concerning Apple and Micro LED screens. All the way back in 2014, Apple acquired a Micro LED startup called LuxView, while in 2018, rumours surfaced that Apple was developing its own Micro LED display for the Apple Watch. Apple is also said to be making its own VR headset – something that Micro LED's greater brightness, power efficiency and longer lifespan could be ideally suited to.
While we could see an Apple Micro LED in the Apple Watch as soon as next year, it's not expected to appear in iPhones for years yet, according to the report. We're sure to hear plenty more on this before then, so stay tuned.
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