Apple is working on a new screen technology called MicroLED. And now a new report sheds some light on where those screens might pop up in the company's future products.
The tech giant has partnered with Taiwan Semiconductor on MicroLED panels that would come to the Apple Watch and an as-yet announced augmented reality headset, Digitimes senior analyst Luke Lin wrote on Tuesday (April 3). Lin said that Apple is also working on bigger MicroLED panels that could eventually find their way into MacBook screens.
According to Lin, who cited "upstream sources" who claim to have knowledge of Apple's plans, one of the MicroLED panels will measure 1.3 to 1.4 inches and find its way to the Apple Watch. The other will have a 0.7- to 0.8-inch screen and be available in the augmented reality headset. Digitimes cautioned, however, that the company might be working on augmented reality glasses instead of a full-fledged headset.
The report comes just weeks after Bloomberg reported that Apple has created a secret facility in California where a team of employees is working on MicroLED displays for future devices. MicroLED is widely considered the future of display technology because it can deliver better visuals than OLEDs, but do so in a thinner panel. It's also not likely to cause burn-in the way an OLED panel might.
The problem for MicroLED, however, is that it's still difficult and costly to produce. Most industry experts believe OLED will remain the most sought-after screen technology for the foreseeable future as manufacturers work to make MicroLED cheaper and easier to produce.
Still, Apple is pushing ahead. And according to Lin, the company could try to get its MicroLED panels into mass production by the second half of this year. Lin cautioned, however, that the time table could shift to 2019. He went on to say that because MicroLED production costs can be "400-600 percent higher" than OLED, Apple will only likely deliver a MicroLED screen on higher-end Apple Watch units.
Of course, Apple hasn't commented on its future plans and hasn't even confirmed that it's working on MicroLED technology or an augmented reality device. However, the company has been bullish on augmented reality, and offering its own screen technology could help it stand out while avoiding reliance on third-party manufacturers.