Apple this week was awarded a patent for a potential Apple Watch design featuring a flexible microLED display that integrates with and encompasses almost the entire watch band.

Titled "Display Module and System Applications" and published by the World Intellectual Property Organization, Apple's patent explores several designs that could one day make it into a future Apple Watch.

apple watch flexible display patent
In the patent, Apple foresees a watch with a flexible display substrate that includes a front side and an underlying second side. An array of microLEDs contact the wiring layer on the front side, while the second side is in communication with multiple electrical driver circuit chips.

In one embodiment, a plurality of interconnects extend throughout the substrate and integrate the two layers of the display area, which is surrounded by a bevel width of less than 1mm.

The patent also describes a contact ledge area that is wider than the bevelled surface of the display substrate. In this design, the MicroLED and input area of the display substrate extends beyond the watch face and ramifies out into the smartwatch band, transforming the band into an extended display area with touch-sensitive capacity.

In a further embodiment, the flexible display substrate includes a first display area for the watch face and a second display area extending to the watch band. In this incarnation, a computer-readable medium receives instructions that dictate the design for both the watch and at least some of the band.

apple watch flexible display patent microLEDs

Smartwatch concept drawings showings MicroLED and circuit chips

Interest in flexible displays has piqued in recent years because they offer several advantages over mobile glass displays, including better durability, lighter weight, and thinner dimensions. For example, Apple's patent envisions a panel that is rollable or foldable – the type that could be incorporated into a television display and rolled into and out of the housing via a spool.

Several Korean and Chinese mobile makers are either preparing to launch or actively developing foldable smartphones for the mass market. Samsung is due to reveal its upcoming Galaxy Fold foldable smartphone this week, while Xiaomi has demoed a similar concept.

Apple has been exploring MicroLED displays since at least 2014, when it acquired MicroLED display maker LuxVue. The company has also been researching flexible OLED displays for a potential foldable iPhone design, and has previously explored wraparound Apple Watch designs using similar materials, although there's no sign that it intends to bring devices with flexible screens to market anytime soon.

(Via FoldableNews.com)

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 8
Tag: Patent
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Neutral)
Related Forum: Apple Watch

Top Rated Comments

Classie Avatar
52 months ago
This is where I see the flexible display technology being useful and actually add to the experience.
But I’m open to being proved wrong by Samsung and the other Chinese brands...
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Mac Fly (film) Avatar
52 months ago
A legitimate and genuine use case for a flexiable or curved display is a smart watch, as size is a limitation for them and some curving would negate the problem. Personally, though, no desire or need for tech on my wrist. I’m trying to use digitital tech less, not more.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
darkcompass Avatar
52 months ago


Attachment Image
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Superhappytree Avatar
52 months ago
I actually envisioned Apple would go with a slap bracelet when the Apple Watch rumours first started with the entire front being a display that melted into the band somehow that you could use to FaceTime.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
danny842003 Avatar
52 months ago
Then how would Apple make its profits, and have keynotes to announce new watch bands.

How will people express their individuality without bands?
You could render a band on to the strap like watch faces now.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone trade in

Apple Adjusts Trade-In Values for iPhones, Macs, and More

Wednesday January 25, 2023 9:40 am PST by
After announcing new Mac and HomePod models last week, Apple adjusted its trade-in values for select devices in the United States. iPhone trade-in values decreased by up to $80, and most Android smartphones also went down. Mac trade-in values remained unchanged or increased by up to $40 depending on the model, while some Apple Watch models increased in value and others decreased. Trade-in...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Expected Later This Year With These 7 Exclusive Features

Tuesday January 24, 2023 4:53 pm PST by
Apple's next-generation iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max are expected to be announced in September as usual. Already, rumors suggest the devices will have at least seven exclusive features not available on the standard iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Plus. An overview of the seven features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17...
Mac mini M2 2023

New 256GB Mac Mini and 512GB MacBook Pro Have Slower SSD Speeds Than Previous Models

Tuesday January 24, 2023 1:11 pm PST by
While the new Mac mini with the M2 chip has a lower $599 starting price, the base model with 256GB of storage has slower SSD read and write speeds compared to the previous-generation model with the M1 chip and 256GB of storage. A teardown of the new Mac mini shared by YouTube channel Brandon Geekabit reveals that the 256GB model is equipped with only a single 256GB storage chip, while the...
iOS 16

iOS 16.3 for iPhone Launching Next Week With These 4 New Features

Friday January 20, 2023 11:43 am PST by
In a recent press release, Apple confirmed that iOS 16.3 will be released to the public next week. The software update will be available for the iPhone 8 and newer and includes a handful of new features, changes, and bug fixes. Below, we've recapped bigger features in iOS 16.3, including support for physical security keys as a two-factor authentication option for Apple ID accounts, worldwide ...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Expected to Feature Wi-Fi 6E Like Latest Macs and iPad Pro

Wednesday January 25, 2023 5:39 pm PST by
The iPhone 15 will support Wi-Fi 6E, according to a research note shared this week by Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis and Tom O'Malley. The analysts did not specify whether the feature will be available on all models or limited to the Pro models. Apple has added Wi-Fi 6E support to a handful of devices so far, including the latest 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With the New M2 Pro Mac Mini

Tuesday January 24, 2023 1:45 pm PST by
The new M2-series MacBook Pro and Mac mini models launched today, marking the debut of the first M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. We have the M2 Pro Mac mini on hand, and thought we'd take a look at the machine and do a series of benchmarks to see how it fits into Apple's lineup. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Base model Mac mini machines come with either an M2 or M2 Pro...
apple tv 4k red image

Apple Releases tvOS 16.3

Tuesday January 24, 2023 10:10 am PST by
Apple today released tvOS 16.3, the third major point update to the tvOS 16 operating system that originally came out in September. Available for the Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD, tvOS 16.3 comes six weeks after tvOS 16.2, an update that added Apple Music Sing. The tvOS 16.3 update can be downloaded over the air through the Settings app on the ‌‌‌‌Apple TV‌‌‌‌ by going to System > Software...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With the New M2 Max MacBook Pro

Thursday January 26, 2023 12:14 pm PST by
New 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with the latest M2 Pro and M2 Max chips are available in Apple retail stores and are already in the hands of customers, and we picked up one of the new M2 Max machines to answer all of the questions MacRumors readers considering a purchase might have. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Yesterday, we asked MacRumors fans on...