Rumors keep mounting as Apple invests more into next-gen MicroLED screen technology

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Apple Watch updates 2018: MicroLED screen

Switching to OLED displays on the iPhone X was a huge change for Apple. The company has been famously prissy about the screens in its devices, and it took Apple years longer than the rest of the industry to make the leap from LCD to OLED for its flagship smartphone’s screen. But although Apple still has some work to do integrating OLED into the rest of its iPhone lineup, new rumors out of Taiwan suggest the company is already looking to the future.

According to Digitimes, Apple is in “preliminary talks” with Taiwanese firm PlayNitride over “cooperation in the micro LED segment.” PlayNitride has just had an application approved to invest $ 17.1 million in a production facility for MicroLED displays, and it seems as though Apple is particularly interested in what the company has to offer.

The report says that “PlayNitride will produce micro LEDs, display modules and panels [at the facility]. Micro LEDs feature low power consumption, high brightness, ultra-high resolution and color saturation, quick response time and long service life. Micro LED displays can be used in smartphones, smartwatches, VR devices and large-size TVs.”

Given the current high cost of MicroLED displays, there are only two applications that Apple is rumored to be looking into right now, and neither of them involve smartphones. The first, and likeliest to happen in the near future, is a next-generation Apple Watch with a MicroLED display, which could make the device last longer and possibly be thinner.

The second, and far juicier, is the possibility of a MicroLED display-powered augmented reality headset. Apple has long stated its interest in AR, and if the company is projecting a two or three year delay until launch of AR glasses, that’s enough time to get MicroLED production going.

This new report lines up with one we saw earlier this week, which said that Apple has already partnered with longtime manufacturing partner TSMC to produce MicroLED displays for future AR glasses. Apple’s interest in PlayNitride’s facility could simply be a matter of hedging its bets, or it could be an indication that Apple will need to ramp up production in the near future.

Apple – BGR

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Apple in early stages of MicroLED deal for Apple Watch with Taiwan’s PlayNitride

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Apple may be preparing to add Taiwanese firm PlayNitride to its partners on what appears to be a growing MicroLED initiative for future devices, according to a recent report.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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Apple Reportedly in Talks With PlayNitride Over Thinner and Brighter MicroLED Displays

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Apple is in preliminary talks with Taiwan-based company PlayNitride over cooperation in the MicroLED market, according to DigiTimes via Micro-LED-Info.


While the report doesn’t provide any further details about the potential partnership, PlayNitride has developed its own MicroLED displays called PixeLED that may be of interest to Apple for its future products. Samsung was also reportedly interested in the company back in early 2017, but no deal transpired.

PlayNitride is said to have received approval from the Taiwanese government to establish a multimillion-dollar facility at Hsinchu Science Park in northern Taiwan, where it will produce its MicroLED technologies.

Apple’s interest in MicroLED displays was first reported in 2015, when it was discovered that the company opened a secretive laboratory in Taoyuan, Taiwan to research the display technology. Since then, Apple has reportedly downsized its team in Taiwan and shifted the efforts closer to its headquarters.

Last month, Bloomberg News reported that Apple has a secret facility in Santa Clara, California, near Cupertino, where it is allegedly designing and producing test samples of its own MicroLED displays. The displays are reportedly being manufactured by TSMC, which already produces A-series chips for iPhones.

MicroLED is widely considered to be Apple’s next step after OLED, which it currently uses for the Apple Watch and iPhone X.

Image Credit: TrendForce

MicroLED displays have many of the same advantages as OLED displays have over LCDs, including improved color accuracy, improved contrast ratio, faster response times, and true blacks given both have self-lit pixels, but they are even thinner, much brighter, and more energy efficient than OLED panels.

Apple’s use of MicroLED would likely start small, with the Apple Watch, followed by iPhones and then iPads. A recent report said Apple may even use MicroLED for its widely rumored augmented reality glasses. However, the transition away from LCDs and OLEDs is widely believed to be at least a few years away.

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MicroLED vs. TFT and OLED: Why Apple is interested in new display tech for future iPhone or Apple Watch

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Reports suggest that Apple is getting closer to implementing MicroLED in its future product releases, including the Apple Watch, with the display technology potentially offering a number of benefits compared to other methods. AppleInsider explains how the current TFT and OLED display technologies work, and how MicroLED differs.
AppleInsider – Frontpage News

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Apple Said To Be Working On MicroLED Display For Future Apple Watch And AR Wearable

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Following on from a similar report which came out of the altogether more reliable Bloomberg last week, DigiTimes is today reporting that Apple is indeed working with TSMC on a new MicroLED display technology for use in future products.

[ Continue reading this over at RedmondPie.com ]

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Apple’s Developing MicroLED Panels for AR Wearables and Larger Devices

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Apple is developing its own microLED panels. But while we’ve known that news since March, a new report suggests their use could stretch far beyond the Apple Watch. Apple has plans to develop first-party MicroLED panels for both small- and large-sized devices, DigiTimes Senior Analyst Luke Lin wrote in a new report. Previously, rumors of […]
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Apple reportedly wants MicroLED Apple Watch screens in 2018, AR and big screens later

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A MicroLED display shown off by Samsung at CES.


A report this morning from Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes suggests that Apple’s plans for producing next-generation MicroLED screens could be more ambitious than originally expected. According to the report, Apple is already working with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) on small and large screens for three separ…Read More
Apple – VentureBeat
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Apple and TSMC could start Apple Watch MicroLED display mass production later this year

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Apple’s work on developing MicroLED panels is slowly nearing mass production, according to the report, by partnering with TSMC to manufacture small panels for use in the Apple Watch and the rumored AR wearable device, potentially starting later this year.
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Apple Working With TSMC to Develop MicroLED Panels for Future Apple Watch and Augmented Reality Wearable Device

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Apple has plans in place to develop MicroLED panels for both small-size and large-size devices, with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) providing support for producing smaller form factor applications, which could include future Apple Watch models and AR wearables, according to DigiTimes senior analyst Luke Lin.

Apple is working with TSMC to develop micro LED panels on silicon-based backplanes for use in the Apple Watch and an augmented reality (AR) wearable device, Lin noted.

MicroLED panels use different light-emitting compounds than the current OLED displays and should help to make future devices slimmer, brighter, and less power-hungry. Citing sources in the upstream supply chain, Lin claims Apple is preparing two sizes of MicroLED panel for small devices. They are said to include a 1.3 to 1.4-inch panel for future Apple Watch iterations and a 0.7 to 0.8-inch panel for an AR wearable device, potentially AR glasses.

Lin also believes Apple is working on developing large-size MicroLED panels on TFT-based backplates for use in products much larger than those in its current MacBook lineup, although he offered no specifics on what they might be.

Based on Lin’s sources, the MicroLED panel destined for a future Apple Watch may enter mass production in the second half on 2018 or in 2019, which would suggest its use in Series 4 or 5 models. The large-size panel could see production in 2019 or later, while the panel for the AR device is yet to have a production schedule, according to the analyst.

The cost of the new MicroLED panels are said to be 400-600 percent higher than OLED panels used in the current Apple Watch. As such, Lin believes Apple will initially only use the MicroLED panel in future “top-of-the-line” versions of Apple Watch, although whether that refers specifically to iterations of the Apple Watch Edition remains unclear.

Apple is understood to own a manufacturing facility in Santa Clara, California, where it is designing and producing test samples of its own MicroLED displays, with a view to eventually replacing largely Samsung-made OLED displays currently used across its product range.

Apple’s interest in the technology was revealed in its acquisition of MicroLED firm LuxVue back in 2014 and previous reports have also claimed Apple will introduce MicroLED technology in the Apple Watch first, with some rumors pointing to that happening as soon as this year.

However, Bloomberg believes that it will likely be a few years before Apple’s MicroLED displays will appear in shipping products – perhaps two years for the Apple Watch and three to five years for the iPhone.

Buyer’s Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)

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Apple’s MicroLED displays could debut later this year

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Apple is going all-in on MicroLED displays, a new report claims. The company is reportedly gearing up to use the next-gen displays in future Apple Watches, Macs and even an as-yet-unreleased wearable device, which could be Apple’s augmented reality glasses. The first MicroLED displays may arrive sooner than expected, too. According to today’s report, Apple […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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