MicroLED Apple Watch Ultra May Be Delayed Due to Supply Chain Issues

Apple is widely expected to bring a microLED display to the Apple Watch Ultra, but a new report out of Korea suggests the company may not have the supply chain configured early enough to launch the device by 2026.

apple watch ultra adventures
Throughout last year, Taiwanese research firm TrendForce predicted a 2026 launch timeframe for the device. That's later than several other sources, which have centered on 2025. However, according to The Elec, problems relating to high manufacturing costs and production yields remain the biggest obstacles to mass production of the microLED Apple Watch Ultra and could even delay the release beyond 2026.

Apple has reportedly been working on custom microLED display technology for almost a decade. The advanced display offers improved brightness, color reproduction, dynamic range, viewing angles, and efficiency, making images look more like they are "painted" atop the display glass.

The current Apple Watch Ultra has a display size of 1.93-inches, whereas the upcoming microLED model is expected to feature a 2.12-inch screen. Apple's problem is that the cost of manufacturing a screen with such a high pixel density is still considered prohibitive for a device that currently sells for $799. According to the report, simulation yields indicate a 2.12-inch screen costs as much as $150, which is four times the cost of producing the existing OLED display ($38). As a benchmark, consumer sales of products with a panel price of $150 are usually around $1,500.

For example, $150 is more expensive than it costs to make the OLED displays for the 6.1-inch and the 6.7-inch iPhone 15, which are $80 and $120, respectively. In terms of the cost of the panel right now, the microLED Apple Watch Ultra would have a higher price tag than Apple's latest premium iPhones. The issue is so problematic that even a 2027 release for the device could be overly optimistic, claims today's report.

Apple is said to have plans to replace all of its existing LCD, OLED, and mini-LED panels with microLED in the long term, with the technology being designed to be scaled up from the Apple Watch to the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Vision Pro headset. The project is part of Apple's plan to reduce its reliance on Samsung as a supplier while reaping benefits from engineering its own displays in-house. But unless the company can get all its ducks in a row on the component supply chain side, microLED adoption could still be some way off.

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Ultra 2
Related Forum: Apple Watch

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Top Rated Comments

Wiesenlooser Avatar
19 weeks ago
MicroLED seems to be always 2 years out... since 4 years already. And Macrumors is happy to give us any minute update regarding delays. this must have been the 200th article about MicroLEDs
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kylo83 Avatar
19 weeks ago
What’s wrong with what he have now, the watch is small you wouldn’t even notice a difference
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coolfactor Avatar
19 weeks ago

to be really sustainable as they claim to be, Apple should honestly consider re-thinking their annual refresh of some of their products. I am sure a lot of attraction to a product can also be gathered with software improvements.
Ya, they can't win. If they don't update a product, it's labeled as "neglected", but if they do update, it's "forced obsolescence".
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
contacos Avatar
19 weeks ago
to be really sustainable as they claim to be, Apple should honestly consider re-thinking their annual refresh of some of their products. I am sure a lot of attraction to a product can also be gathered with software improvements.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arkitect Avatar
19 weeks ago
So going by the article, they could be looking at USD1,500 for an Ultra?
That is a bit rich for my blood.

This is not an heirloom…

What’s wrong with what he have now, the watch is small you wouldn’t even notice a difference
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bgillander Avatar
19 weeks ago

Those are impressive, big-leap numbers, but 3000 nits on my Ultra is already sufficient in direct sun. Better colors, burn in, shelf life are all impressive technical achievements but in a watch with maybe a 3-4 year lifespan the end-user benefit seems marginal and not worth it at the slated price.

That said, zero bezels would be nice. And more nits would make a better flashlight. That would be handy because I use mine a lot.
I remember when the first CCD home video camera came out in the 1980s. It was more expensive and performed worse than the top tube cameras, and the first review I read questioned why anyone would buy that model, but said it was the start of something big. I don't think you could find a tube camera within 5 years after that, as the CCDs became much cheaper, smaller, and outperformed the tube cameras that quickly. Now we have cameras in phones that outperform those, but without that start, we wouldn't even have cameras in phones. I'm curious to see if the hype for MicroLED can be delivered, because it sounds like it could pretty much make everything else obsolete if they can deliver the promises and get the costs down, even if it starts somewhere small because it has to.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)