It’s not just the iPhone that’s supposedly getting a change in its display next year. According to a new report, Apple is currently developing microLED panels for a future Apple Watch, replacing the OLED panels used in the current model.
The fact that Apple is working on microLED technology is no secret. The company acquired U.S.-based microLED developer LuxVue Technology back in May 2014, and has since then established a laboratory in northern Taiwan with the goal of carrying out R&D into new display technologies.
Previously, it had been suggested that Apple’s interest in microLEDs related to a possible heads-up display or in-dash display for vehicles. Instead, today’s report from Digitimes, which attributed the information to unnamed “Taiwan-based supply chain makers,” suggests that new displays might be for a future version of the Apple Watch. That new model — possibly the Apple Watch 3? — would be scheduled to ship in the second half of 2017.
The big advantages of microLED is that it is more energy efficient, with greater contrast, is up to 30 times brighter and boasts a longer lifespan than the current Apple Watch displays. Importantly for a wearable device, it also offers the possibility of making future Apple Watches smaller.
However, as of now, no company has successfully mass-produced or commercialized microLED displays, which means Apple could be taking a (slightly un-Apple-like) gamble if it dives in to be first to market.