Big ambitions, tiny LEDs: Apple said to be developing Micro LED displays for 2024

Enlarge / This is the front of the Apple Watch Ultra. (credit: Samuel Axon)

We learned earlier this week that Apple is trying to make its own in-house Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chips, and today the word on the street (via Bloomberg) is that the company is also looking to design display panels instead of relying on external suppliers like Samsung and LG. The report echoes a similar one from 2018 that said Apple could begin shifting to its own displays in 2020, but today’s report says that “high costs and technical challenges” kept Apple from moving forward with those plans.

The new screens would use the Micro LED technology that Apple acquired in 2014. Like OLED screens, Micro LED displays feature pixel-level brightness controls, allowing for better contrast and lower energy use, and they can also be thinner than LCD screens because they don’t require a separate backlight layer. But unlike OLED screens, Micro LED screens don’t rely on organic material that can deteriorate over time, they have a higher maximum brightness, and they don’t suffer from the burn-in issues that can affect OLED.

The report indicates that Apple is starting small with its Micro LED displays. It plans to ship them in “the highest-end Apple Watches” like the Apple Watch Ultra initially before making versions for iPhones, its upcoming mixed-reality headset, and other devices.

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