Foxconn Reportedly Investing in MicroLED Display Tech for Future iPhones

iphone x oledFoxconn is broadening investment in MicroLED display technology in a bid to win orders from Apple for future iPhones, according to a report from the Chinese-language Economic Daily News (via DigiTimes).

MicroLED is widely considered to be Apple's next step after OLED, which it currently uses for the Apple Watch and iPhone XS. MicroLED displays have many of the same advantages that OLED displays have over LCDs, including improved color accuracy, improved contrast ratio, faster response times, and true blacks – given both have self-lit pixels.

However MicroLED displays are thinner, brighter, and more energy efficient than OLED panels. MicroLED displays also have inorganic gallium nitride-based LEDs, which have a longer lifespan than the organic compound used in OLED displays and should make them more resistant to burn-in issues.

Apple's interest in MicroLED was first reported in 2014, when it acquired MicroLED display maker LuxVue. The following year it was discovered that the ‌iPhone‌ maker had also opened a secretive laboratory in Taoyuan, Taiwan to research display technologies like OLED and MicroLED for future devices.

In 2017, the company reportedly scaled back its efforts at that center, possibly switching to a facility closer to home: Apple is believed to have a secretive manufacturing plant in Santa Clara, California, where it is designing and producing display test samples using MicroLED technology.

microled vs oled vs lcd

Image Credit: TrendForce

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is understood to be providing support for producing smaller form factor applications, which could include future Apple Watch models and AR wearables. Apple has also reportedly had preliminary talks with Taiwan-based company PlayNitride over cooperation in the MicroLED market.

It will likely be a few years before MicroLED displays appear in Apple products – perhaps one year for the Apple Watch and two to four years for the ‌iPhone‌ – once MicroLED displays can be mass produced both reliably and affordably.

When that time comes, Apple will likely outsource full-scale production of the displays, and Foxconn is clearly planning to pick up at least some of the business, if today's report is anything to go on.

Top Rated Comments

44267547 Avatar
63 months ago
This technology is what I’m really anticipating and hoping from Apple for the Watch and iPhone. The direct advantages being, it has a [higher resolution over OLED, increased brightness two/three times over OLED and improved color gamut.] In terms of displays, this is the ‘Next big thing.’
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AirunJae Avatar
63 months ago
I'm just here for the MacRumours Forum to tell me how this will be a bad thing.

$2k phones will be the regular cost of micro led phones
Oh, there it is.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
63 months ago
Samsung is the only manufacturer that actually sells a consumer MicroLED product right now. So, it makes sense that Samsung will dominate MicroLED mobile displays. They're pretty much the goto OEM for all display tech and storage tech.
What Samsung sells is large panel mLED. It isn't the same as small panel mLED. Expertise in one area is no guarantee of expertise in another. Think LG and their large panel OLED TV's. They're great. Their small OLED phone panels... not so much. I don't doubt Samsung will be a big player in mLED, but I doubt they will dominate it like they did OLED. Samsung was primarily the driving force in OLED. mLED has numerous players vying to be a force in an arena with a fairly level playing field. None of those players want to be beholden to one vendor.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
69Mustang Avatar
63 months ago
Why is Foxconn (an assembler) investing in display tech? Are they trying to build displays?
Foxconn isn't just an assembler. Foxconn is a contract manufacturer. They have mutiple subsidiaries involved in display tech.
Yeah because right now large microled screens are easier to build that smaller ones but you can be sure Samsung is working on adapting this tech for smartphones screens as well. They are currently the only ones showing and selling something that it's using microled tech, a very important detail.
As I said, I don't doubt Samsung will be a big player in mLED. They just won't be what they are in OLED. For a lot of OLED's history, Samsung essentially had no competition and it allowed them to dominate. That isn't true for mLED. Lots of players are vying for a seat at the mLED table... Apple being one of them.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
squizzler Avatar
63 months ago
Great excuse for a price hike.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
cmaier Avatar
63 months ago
I thought OLED was the future.
it was. Future is funny that way. It leaves everything else in the past.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

Apple car wheel icon feature yellow

Apple Cancels Electric Car Project

Tuesday February 27, 2024 11:05 am PST by
Apple has canceled all plans to release an autonomous, electric vehicle, reports Bloomberg. Apple has been working on an Apple Car for more than a decade and invested millions of dollars into development before deciding it was not a viable project. Apple's Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams today told approximately 2,000 employees working on the Apple Car that the project was canceled,...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

Six Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Thursday February 22, 2024 4:20 am PST by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models concurrently, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different, and already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
iOS 18 Mock iPhone 16 Feature Gray

iOS 18 Rumored to Be Compatible With These iPhone Models

Tuesday February 27, 2024 6:31 am PST by
iOS 18 will be compatible with the iPhone XR, and thereby also the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models with the same A12 Bionic chip, according to a post on X today from a private account with a proven track record of sharing build numbers for upcoming iOS updates. The post was spotted by MacRumors contributor Aaron Perris, and it has since been deleted. However, this was likely because the...
General Apps Messages

iOS 17.4 to Add This 'Groundbreaking' New Messaging Feature

Friday February 23, 2024 5:05 am PST by
With iOS 17.4, set to arrive in March 2024, Apple is bringing a new cryptographic security feature to iMessage called PQ3. This "groundbreaking" and "state-of-the-art" protocol provides "extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks," according to Apple. Let's break down what that means. Apple's iMessage service already supports end-to-end encryption, but security...
iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Coming Soon With These New Features for Your iPhone

Monday February 26, 2024 6:08 am PST by
In a press release last month, Apple confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU, Apple Podcasts transcripts, and an iMessage security upgrade. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay...