Apple’s in-house microLED smartwatch panels could enter mass production by 2019
Apple’s clandestine screen development work is no longer a big secret, but the question remains – when will hardcore iFans be able to purchase an iDevice with both a Cupertino-designed processor and in-house display in tow? According to senior Digitimes Research analyst Luke Lin, the big day may arrive sooner than you think.
Specifically, Lin believes home-brewed Apple Watch microLED panels could enter mass production as early as the second half of this year and no later than 2019. If that’s the case, next year’s Apple Watch family might include a “top-of-the-line” model using the display technology hailed for its significant brightness improvements and reduced power consumption compared to the wearable gadget’s current OLED screen.
Furthermore, microLED displays could help future Apple Watches stay slim and compact while retaining or even gaining battery capacity. But none of that comes cheap, and the next-gen screen tech is estimated to cost up to six times as much as existing OLEDs. Apple is likely to join forces with TSMC for the actual manufacturing of the in-house-developed panels, which would certainly help accelerate commercial adoption.
The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is the world’s largest dedicated independent semiconductor foundry, as well as one of Apple’s oldest, most trusted and valuable supply partner. TSMC has been solely in charge of both the A11 Bionic and A10 Fusion making, and the semiconductor giant could take part in the creation of microLEDs for use in the Apple Watch and an unnamed AR device.
Said mystery AR product would reportedly need a 0.7 or 0.8-inch display, which sounds like smart glasses territory. But Apple also wants to develop microLED panels for “large-size applications”, i.e. MacBooks and even larger products than that, which are projected to enter mass manufacturing in 2019 or “later.” It all sounds a little too impulsive and ambitious, mind you, so it’d probably be wise to keep your skeptical hats on.