Apple's micro-LED plans are making headlines again today, with Nikkei quoting industry sources that believe the Cupertino company is still on track for a wide adoption of micro-LED screens in its wearable devices "as soon as 2018." That timeline fits into a previous report from May, which pegged Apple for a trial production of micro-LED displays by the end of 2017, and a predicted inclusion on an Apple Watch launched in 2018 or later.

If true, analysts speculate as to whether this means Apple would then cut dependence on Samsung and its production of OLED screens currently used on Apple Watch. Separately, another rumor has suggested that Samsung is looking into purchasing micro-LED manufacturer PlayNitride, which could then lead into a scenario where Apple sources micro-LED screens from Samsung for Apple Watch. Falling in line with previous reports, Nikkei's sources state that Apple's micro-LED efforts will be housed in a plant in Taoyuan, Taiwan.

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According to a person with knowledge of the display industry, Apple remains "the only company" that could potentially roll out micro-LED on a wide scale at this early stage in the technology's development. Devices with micro-LED have the chance to be thinner, lighter, see an improved color gamut with increased brightness, and sport higher resolutions. Micro-LED isn't expected to become a leader in the smartphone display supply chain, including that of iPhone, until 2020 at the earliest.

"Apple is working very hard to foster the micro-LED technology ... the company could push the use of new display tech as early as next year," said an executive with close knowledge of display technology.

"At this point, Apple is the only company who is able to roll out micro-LED, a technology that is still at an early stage of development, and cover the high costs incurred by the low yield rate," the person said.

According to Eric Chiou, an analyst at research company WitsView in Taipei, "With micro-LED, Apple is looking to bestow brand-new products with unique designs to really differentiate itself from rivals such as Samsung." Of course, being so far out from a product launch with a micro-LED screen, it's impossible to know exactly what Apple plans to do with the technology, whether it's placed within a next-generation Apple Watch or a separate, unannounced device.

Apple's production ramp-up on micro-LED is said to be the final realization of its acquisition of low-power microLED-based display maker LuxVue in 2014, with rumors specifically surrounding a new micro-LED-powered Apple Watch beginning in summer 2016. Foxconn is also entering the micro-LED supply chain, with plans to acquire display startup eLux, "for development of next-generation micro-LED display technology."

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Tag: Nikkei
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Top Rated Comments

Billberryjuice Avatar
93 months ago
On the watch, a big drop in power consumption could lead in any of three ways:

- Longer life
- Smaller battery/ thinner device
- Always-on screen

I wonder which we'll get.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
UL2RA Avatar
93 months ago
Micro-LED would be a huge Benefit for the Apple Watch. It would have almost three times the brightness as OLED (Consumes less power draw, resulting in more battery life), higher contrast in color with richer blacks and more clarity.

I imagine the Apple Watch would be the first to get micro LED and then it would transition to the iPhone eventually.
I was under the impression that "black" on OLEDs is literally "off" ... so ... how do you get richer than off?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
UL2RA Avatar
93 months ago
Off? Can you elaborate? Blacks are much deeper with OLED and Micro led will Continue that balance. Richer meaning deeper in saturation.

http://www.flatpanelshd.com/focus.php?subaction=showfull&id=1477048275
On OLED displays, the color "black" is displayed by turning the pixels completely off. So you can't have richer blacks than off.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
44267547 Avatar
93 months ago
Micro-LED would be a huge Benefit for the Apple Watch. It would have almost three times the brightness as OLED (Consumes less power draw, resulting in more battery life), higher contrast in color with richer blacks and more clarity.

I imagine the Apple Watch would be the first to get micro LED and then it would transition to the iPhone eventually.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
5105973 Avatar
93 months ago
Off? Can you elaborate? Blacks are much deeper with OLED and Micro led will Continue that balance. Richer meaning deeper in saturated.

http://www.flatpanelshd.com/focus.php?subaction=showfull&id=1477048275
I think he means that in OLED, to get the black color the pixel is simply turned off. So how can black get any darker/richer than it currently is as a totally turned off pixel? At least that's what I was wondering too when I read your post, which I might be failing to fully understand. I'll go read your link now.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kajje Avatar
93 months ago
On the watch, a big drop in power consumption could lead in any of three ways:

- Longer life
- Smaller battery/ thinner device
- Always-on screen

I wonder which we'll get.
Thinner device of course. On which planet you have been the last decade?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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