The iPhone X is Apple’s first handset to sport an OLED screen instead of LCD, but Apple is already planning a new display revolution for its products, not just the iPhone. Apple is working on MicroLED screens, various reports have said, with a new story claiming that the Apple Watch and unreleased first-generation Apple AR glasses will feature MicroLED displays shortly.
Apple is also said to be developing MicroLED screens that are bigger than the iPhone and could be used in larger devices, like MacBooks.
Apple has partnered with TSMC to manufacture small-size MicroLED screens, Digitimes has learned. The two companies are working on silicon-based backplanes for use in the Apple Watch and the mysterious augmented reality device Apple is rumored to be working on.
The Apple Watch’s MicroLED screen would measure 1.3- to 1.4-inches and will supposedly enter mass production as early as the second half of 2018 or in 2019. The AR wearable device would have a 0.7- to 0.8-inch Micro LED screen, but the glasses do not yet have a mass production date, the report notes.
Because MicroLED screens for the Apple Watch are 400-600% more expensive than OLED ones, only the top-of-the-line Apple Watch version will get it at first.
Apple is also working on large size MicroLED screens built on TFT-based backplanes, which could even be used in products much larger than the MacBook, the report notes. The only thing made by Apple that’s bigger than a MacBook is the iMac, for the time being. These panels should hit mass-production in 2019 or even later.
Recent reports did say that Apple plans to reduce the screen-to-body ratio of future Apple Watch models. It’s unclear whether the change is related to the adoption of MicroLED screen technology. However, MicroLED displays should be thinner than alternatives.
Separate reports said that Apple is planning big changes for the MacBook line starting with 2020, when Intel chips should be replaced with Apple’s own processors. It’s unclear whether such a big revamp of Apple’s MacBook and iMac lines would also include the introduction of MicroLED screens.