Apple Watch Likely to Adopt MicroLED Display Technology in 3-4 Years

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This year's Apple Watch Series 6 is expected to feature an OLED screen like previous models, but a future model is likely to be the first Apple product to adopt MicroLED display technology, albeit not for another three to four years.


That's the main takeaway reading between the lines of comments made by the chairman of Epistar, Taiwan's top LED producer, which is reportedly working on a factory to manufacture MicroLED displays specifically for future Apple products.

From a DigiTimes' report filed on Monday:
Smartwatches will be the first major applications for micro LED with volume adoption likely to take place 3-4 years from now, according to Epistar chairman Lee Biing-jye.

Epistar has overcome many micro LED technological difficulties, such as mass transfer, and expects to achieve reliable production capability in 2-3 years, and introduce end-market applications in 3-4 years, Lee noted.
Apple is reportedly investing $330 million in the Taiwanese MicroLED factory to manufacture displays for future iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and other devices. MicroLEDs sized 20-50 microns are too small for PCB substrates that support minimum sizes of 50-100 microns, and therefore glass substrates are used.

Taiwanese LCD panel maker AU Optronics is understood to be supplying the glass substrates for the displays, while Epistar is said to be now focusing on improving yield rates for micro LED epitaxy and reducing cost for mass transfer.

There are several advantages of MicroLED screens over LCD and OLED displays, including being thinner and more energy efficient. For example, the power consumption of MicroLED screens is only one-tenth that of LCD displays, and the color saturation is close to OLED.


In addition, MicroLED can support a higher brightness, higher dynamic range, and wider color gamut, while also achieving a faster update rate, wider viewing angle, and lower power consumption.

Owing to the difficulties involved in developing MicroLED technology, early designs are expected to rely on mini-LEDs that are somewhere in between traditional LED and MicroLED technology. However, Apple still considers MicroLED technology to be the "top priority," according to a previous report.

Apple has six mini-LED products in the works that are set to debut in 2020 and 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple is said to be debuting the technology in a 12.9-inch ‌iPad Pro‌ for launch later this year, followed by a 27-inch iMac Pro, a 14.1-inch MacBook Pro, a 16-inch ‌‌‌MacBook Pro‌‌‌, a 10.2.-inch iPad, and a 7.9-inch ‌‌‌iPad‌‌‌ mini.

Apple has reportedly been testing prototype ‌‌Apple Watch‌‌ models with MicroLED displays since 2017. While early rumors suggested an ‌‌Apple Watch‌‌ with a microLED display could launch as early as 2020, one leaker poured cold water on that prediction in May by claiming that this year's ‌Apple Watch‌ Series 6 will use the same OLED display as previous models.

There is precedent for new screen technologies showing up in the ‌Apple Watch‌ first. When it was introduced in 2014, the ‌Apple Watch‌ had an OLED screen. The technology then migrated to the ‌iPhone‌ X three years later.

Article Link: Apple Watch Likely to Adopt MicroLED Display Technology in 3-4 Years
 

RamGuy

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For example, the power consumption of MicroLED screens is only one-tenth that of LCD displays, and the color saturation is close to OLED.
This seems rather pointless to bring up? One-tenth when compared to LCD displays? But how is it when compared to OLED? The Apple Watch has been using OLED all along, OLED is where it's currently at. Why compare it with LCD? And the colour saturation is close to OLED. In other word it's almost as good, but not quite? How is this any improvement?

In addition, MicroLED can support a higher brightness, higher dynamic range, and wider color gamut, while also achieving a faster update rate, wider viewing angle, and lower power consumption.

Compared to what? Still comparing to LCD?
 

PickUrPoison

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Sep 12, 2017
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This seems rather pointless to bring up? One-tenth when compared to LCD displays? But how is it when compared to OLED? The Apple Watch has been using OLED all along, OLED is where it's currently at. Why compare it with LCD? And the colour saturation is close to OLED. In other word it's almost as good, but not quite? How is this any improvement?

In addition, MicroLED can support a higher brightness, higher dynamic range, and wider color gamut, while also achieving a faster update rate, wider viewing angle, and lower power consumption.

Compared to what? Still comparing to LCD?
Backlit LCD and OLED have similar power consumption in typical use iirc. In dark mode, OLED will use less power.
 

Jmausmuc

macrumors 6502a
Oct 13, 2014
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There have been very few rumors about the series 6. I am still on the series 4 and would like to upgrade if there is a compelling reason but it seems like the series 6 will most likely feature the same design as the 4 and only offer some new health features and a faster processor.
If this is true, is m not sure if upgrading is worth it...

ifit has a slimmer design I will buy it.
 

fokmik

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microLED the best from LCD and OLED but not one draw back..perfect blacks, high brightness etc etc, no burn image, no backlight bleed ,no blue pixels fading etc
But again, microLED will come first on the bigger displays this time, because shrinking the microLED pixels is way too hard...thats why we started to see big TV with microLED...because the pixels are 1:1
 

PickUrPoison

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I just want the Apple Watch to have at least a week of battery life like some other smartwatches.
I suppose Apple could reduce functionality and extend battery life, but I don’t expect them to. Their vision of what a smart watch should be is what they’re selling, and people sure seem to be buying.
 

chucker23n1

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Dec 7, 2014
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microLED the best from LCD and OLED but not one draw back..perfect blacks, high brightness etc etc, no burn image, no backlight bleed ,no blue pixels fading etc
But again, microLED will come first on the bigger displays this time, because shrinking the microLED pixels is way too hard...
The micro-LED pixels will be tiny either way.

thats why we started to see big TV with microLED...because the pixels are 1:1
Are you thinking of mini-LED?
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I suppose Apple could reduce functionality and extend battery life, but I don’t expect them to. Their vision of what a smart watch should be is what they’re selling, and people sure seem to be buying.
They'd also risk having to compete with the fitness tracker space, which costs a fraction of Apple Watch. They don't want that.
 

SW3029

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Sep 22, 2019
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Any word on whether the Series 6 Cellular will be 5G? I guess it would be kind of pointless since you aren't going to be streaming 4K video over cellular on your Apple Watch, but just wondering if Apple might throw the 5G chip in there since the iPhones are all going 5G too.
 

chucker23n1

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Any word on whether the Series 6 Cellular will be 5G? I guess it would be kind of pointless since you aren't going to be streaming 4K video over cellular on your Apple Watch, but just wondering if Apple might throw the 5G chip in there since the iPhones are all going 5G too.
Not sure if the Series 6 will, but I'm certain Apple will move all cellular devices to 5G within a few years.
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Didn’t we hear this exact rumour like 3-4 years ago?
I believe microLED rumors started appearing about a year or two ago.
 

alpi123

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Jun 18, 2014
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Not sure if the Series 6 will, but I'm certain Apple will move all cellular devices to 5G within a few years.
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I believe microLED rumors started appearing about a year or two ago.
We were having rumours that in 2020 at the very earliest, maybe 2021-2022 Apple would've adopted microLED already but it's getting pushed back again. I'm not really complaining, good things come slowly.
 

ericinboston

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Jan 13, 2008
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But how much real-life power savings are there for the Apple Watch if it moves to this technology? For example, is Apple claiming that the new display is going to use 1/10th the power AND that currently most of the power use is for display? I don't think that's the case. My bet is that currently the most of the battery is sucked for the CPU, GPU, WIFI, and other non-display work. Therefore, what's a lower-power-usage-display going to give me in the the real world? 60 more minutes a day?

Does anyone have any metrics on power breakdown of the current Watch and maybe how much power this new technology will use?

I welcome this new display technology for all of its benefits (for all future products) but would love to know how it will really impact the Watch with its tiny screen.
 
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WWPD

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The fact that it's taking so long for a new display technology to come out is a testament to how good OLED is. I want a near bezeless display. Do it Apple.
 
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chucker23n1

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But how much real-life power savings are there for the Apple Watch if it moves to this technology? For example, is Apple claiming that the new display is going to use 1/10th the power AND that currently most of the power use is for display? I don't think that's the case.
Battery draw of lighting up a display is fairly massive.

My bet is that currently the most of the battery is sucked for the CPU, GPU, WIFI, and other non-display work. Therefore, what's a lower-power-usage-display going to give me in the the real world? 60 more minutes a day?
Chips and modems these days can be powered down a fair bit.

Does anyone have any metrics on power breakdown of the current Watch and maybe how much power this new technology will use?

I welcome this new display technology for all of its benefits (for all future products) but would love to know how it will really impact the Watch with its tiny screen.
I don't think Apple will give such a breakdown. I'm also not sure they want to extend the battery life, but rather, they'll make the device thinner (such as by reducing the battery capacity) while hitting the same ~18-hour goal. The Watch is still rather thick.
 
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Alan Wynn

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I suppose Apple could reduce functionality and extend battery life, but I don’t expect them to. Their vision of what a smart watch should be is what they’re selling, and people sure seem to be buying.
I agree that it is unlikely that they will trade functionality for battery life. I do hope that they do no make it thinner to absorb any process gains they have. I would love to see it have a reliable battery life of 30 hours, so that I can charge it every morning while I am in the shower. Not interested in giving up functionality, but would like just a bit more than I get now.
 

chucker23n1

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Dec 7, 2014
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I agree that it is unlikely that they will trade functionality for battery life. I do hope that they do no make it thinner to absorb any process gains they have. I would love to see it have a reliable battery life of 30 hours, so that I can charge it every morning while I am in the shower. Not interested in giving up functionality, but would like just a bit more than I get now.
They might slightly extend battery life to better accommodate sleep tracking, but once they've hit that, I do think they want to make it thinner, not last longer.
 
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