Reports are suggesting that the Apple Watch 2, expected next year, could feature a major overhaul and include micro LED panels.
OLED to micro LED technology
The smartwatch from Apple was the first to feature OLED technology. An upgrade of the Apple Watch, expected to be unveiled this year, will almost certainly continue with the OLED technology, are there rumors that it may be used with the iPhone 8 next year, but that is still speculation. However, next year’s Apple Watch 2 could introduce the new micro LED technology.
OLED Technology, was seen as a major breakthrough in screen lighting technology. By using an organic compound to emit the light, a screen’s size (depth) could be reduced and flexibility increased, as seen by the demonstrations of Samsung’s new ‘rollable screen.’
However, recent reports state that Apple may be pushing past the the OLED screen, with the introduction of micro LED panels in the new watch. These micro LED panels are supposed to be a lot more efficient that the current options. With battery life always one of the major concerns for any smart device, this will be welcome news to many people.
The watch, unlike a phone for example, is not something you want to have to turn off if the battery is running out, and so this non power-guzzling technology will be especially useful. As ‘wearables‘ continues to be an area of focus, it is thought that micro LED panels will be at the forefront.
Apple investing heavily in the space
Apple bought a micro LED company in 2014. The company was called LuxVue, and since then, there are reports that Apple established a laboratory in northern Taiwan where they have been continuing to research and develop the technology. Taiwanese supply chain sources have indicated that they believe Apple could be incorporating the new technology into devices as soon as the second half of 2017.
In the past, Apple has always relied on external vendors to supply their screens, including their major rival in the smartphone space, Samsung. The purchase of LuxVue was thought to be a turning point, with Apple trying to bring the screen production process under their own roof, rather than relying on third party suppliers.
At the moment, (because these things can change relatively quickly,) it is worth noting that using micro LED panels will be a lot more expensive than the current OLED design. This is because the sizes can vary from just one micron to 100 microns. It is unclear, if they are introduced, whether that cost will be transferred to the customer, via increased prices.
Most Apple products, like the iPhone, iPad and MacBook use the more traditional LCD displays, using liquid crystals to light the screen. This is a cheaper option than OLED, and much cheaper than micro LED.
Micro LED moving forwards
Micro LED panels have been around for a while and back in 2015 industry experts were predicting that it could be a successor to the OLED display, with the Apple Watch being a prime candidate to utilize the new technology.
It should be noted that micro LED technology is not currently being used in any products, and there are difficulties at the moment in making display panels of any significant size. For this reason, 2017 sounds a little optimistic, but never underestimate the Cupertino technology giant, and if they can get it right, they will again break new ground in the display arena.