Apple is seriously considering using Micro-Led displays for its future Apple Watch and probably for the iPhone, but this will not happen for several years.
Apple designs and produces its Micro-Led-based displays (AMμLED) in a secret factory in California less than 15 minutes from Apple Park. According to Bloomberg, more than 300 engineers are working on this project in a 5,800 square meter building. The goal would be to produce a Micro-Led screen for the Apple Watch. Micro-Led technology offers the same advantages as Oled (individual control of each pixel and infinite contrast) while eliminating certain disadvantages such as relatively short life.
On paper, the Micro-Led also increases maximum brightness (which is already 1,000 cd/m² on the Apple Watch Series 3) and reduces power consumption. Apple’s research in this area would be very encouraging, and the group’s management would have given the green light to continue the research over the next two years. So you can’t expect to see Micro-Led displays in Apple products for two or three years. If Apple manages to overcome the technical constraints, this type of screen could also be found on the iPhone, but not before three to five years. The Apple factory is not designed for volume production and is only used to develop manufacturing methods for large-scale production. The in-house development allows to stay away from competitors and to keep the manufacturing secret of new components.
If this information is confirmed, this is the first display entirely designed by Apple and not just the work of a subcontractor like LG Display or Samsung Display. The Cupertino firm is pursuing its strategy of internalizing as much as possible the design of key components to make the difference with its competitors. Apple is already designing its Apple AX mobile processors for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch, as well as Bluetooth radio chips such as the Apple W1 embedded in Apple AirPods and Beats X.
The advances on the Micro-Led would be to the credit of the company LuxVue, acquired by Apple in 2014. Following this acquisition, Apple would have opened an R&D center in Taiwan specializing in screens. Building a factory in California took Apple several months of work, and it wasn’t until the end of last year that the first functional Micro-Led display would have been manufactured. It remains to be seen the technology used by Apple. Micro-Led technology has been popularized by Samsung’s The Wall TV, scheduled for release in August. However, Samsung indicated to us that it could not for the moment produce Micro-Led with a distance between each Led lower than 0,8 mm.
The 146-inch The Wall TV displays Ultra HD definition, and you would have to halve the pitch (distance between pixels) to get a 73-inch TV in Ultra HD. So Apple engineers would have found a way to miniaturize Micro-Led to the extreme. The two Micro-Led technologies of Apple and Samsung would thus be quite different.