Apple has been actively investing in the research and development of micro-LED screen technology, which combines the best features of OLED and mini-LED displays. According to a recent report from Nikkei, Apple has taken its commitment further by designing its own production equipment and partnering with LG Display for substrates and TSMC for silicon wafers. The ultimate goal is to integrate micro-LED screens into iPhones with the aim to reduce its reliance on Samsung Display. As things stand at the moment, Samsung happens to be the largest manufacturer of OLED panels right now and is one of Apple’s biggest OLED suppliers for fitment into iPhone devices.
Micro-LED technology offers individually lit pixels, providing the high contrast and deep black levels found in OLED displays. However, unlike OLED, micro-LED is not made of organic material, making it less susceptible to issues like burn-in. Additionally, micro-LED panels are thinner and more energy-efficient. The compact size of micro-LED chips also presents opportunities for integrating displays with other sensors more effectively, such as under-screen fingerprint scanners with higher fidelity.
Since the display is often the costliest component in an iPhone, Apple stands to benefit from significant cost savings and improved profit margins if it can develop its own display technology, rather than relying on Samsung’s intellectual property for high-quality OLED panels. Nevertheless, the production of micro-LED displays poses challenges, and scaling up manufacturing remains a hurdle.
Nikkei reports that Apple’s micro-LED technology is still in the sampling stage, with the goal of introducing micro-LED screens on the Apple Watch as early as 2025, aligning with previous reports. Apple currently operates micro-LED research facilities in the United States, Taiwan, and Japan, indicating its commitment to advancing the technology.
The Apple Watch will likely be the first device to feature micro-LED displays, as they are easier to produce in smaller sizes. It may take around five years for Apple to be ready to mass-produce micro-LED displays at sizes suitable for iPhones, marking a significant milestone in display technology for the company.