For the first time, Apple is designing its own displays for use in future devices. According to a report by Bloomberg, the company has made a “significant investment” in the development of prototype MicroLED screens, which could eventually appear in products like the Apple Watch and iPhone.
The Apple Watch, which currently features an OLED screen provided by LG display, could be the firm’s first product to use a MicroLED screen. Sources say a 62,000-square foot facility located minutes from Apple Park produced the first watch-sized screens late last year.
Like OLED tech, each pixel on a MicroLED display gives its own light instead of relying on a backlight. It also uses an inorganic material—gallium nitride—instead of OLED’s organic material. This means MicroLED displays are brighter, slimmer, and use less power than current OLEDs, while offering excellent contrast and increased longevity.
The complexity of producing MicroLEDs, which have to be manufactured and assembled one sub-pixel at a time, means they’re still some time away from mass availability. But Samsung is using the tech in its 146-inch TV, The Wall, which it showed off at CES. The massive television is set to go on sale in August. No word yet on pricing, but expect it to be very, very expensive.
Apple has shown an interest in MicroLED since it acquired a startup called LuxVue that was working on the technology back in 2014. As it has done with its mobile chips, Apple could bring the design of yet another component in-house with its MicroLED screens. Bloomberg notes that Apple will still likely have to outsource production but being the first to offer the technology in its products could give the company an edge over competitors.