Apple Watch Ultra may not get a micro-LED display for another three years

Apple Watch Ultra
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

One of the most persistent Apple Watch Ultra rumors is news that Apple will be upgrading the screens to micro-LED — in anticipation of rolling out the advanced displays on other products. Unfortunately, a new report puts a damper on those rumors, suggesting micro-LEDs won’t be coming to a new Apple Watch Ultra until 2026.

According to a new TrendForce report (via The Elec), Apple has delayed work on micro-LED tech once again. Previously, mass production of a micro-LED Apple Watch Ultra was expected to begin in May 2025, but has apparently been pushed back to the first quarter of 2026.

The report claims Apple’s plans haven’t changed, and that micro-LED will debut on an Apple Watch before making the jump to other platforms. Which means we may well be stuck with OLED and micro-LED displays for the immediate future.

Unfortunately the delay is no doubt due to the complexities of manufacturing micro-LED displays in large quantities. The term micro is used literally, and those sizes only add to the difficulty, and leave micro-LED manufacturing with problems related to high costs and low yield rates. 

And that’s a problem across the micro-LED industry, so Apple certainly isn’t alone. However the benefits of micro-LED could make up for the current difficulties, especially if someone can figure out how to economically mass produce the displays. 

Apple is slowly transitioning its device to OLED displays, with OLED iPads and MacBook Pros rumored to be next in line. OLED already offers great benefits like darker blacks, more vivid colors and better viewing angles, though micro-LED could take things even further.

The microscopic nature of the LEDs means that there’s a lot more control, and that means even better overall quality. micro-LED doesn’t use any organic elements either, which degrade over time in OLED panels, meaning they don’t have any of the same longevity issues. 

But it sounds like we’re going to have to wait even longer to enjoy the benefits of micro-LED in Apple products. In the meantime Apple has plenty of stuff on the way to keep you going, with various upgrades and enhancements. 

The iPhone 15 is the main one, launching later this fall, and is expected to be joined by the Apple Watch Ultra 2, Apple Watch 9 and maybe even the AirPods Pro 3. Plus there’s the Apple Vision Pro headset coming next year, and a slew of new iPad and MacBook models to round up the slate.

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Tom Pritchard
UK Phones Editor

Tom is the Tom's Guide's UK Phones Editor, tackling the latest smartphone news and vocally expressing his opinions about upcoming features or changes. It's long way from his days as editor of Gizmodo UK, when pretty much everything was on the table. He’s usually found trying to squeeze another giant Lego set onto the shelf, draining very large cups of coffee, or complaining about how terrible his Smart TV is.