Apple’s MicroLED Breakthrough Puts Samsung on Notice

Apple is done relying on Samsung, LG, and others for its displays. And its new secret project could send shivers down the spine of the rest of the industry.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The company is working out of a nondescript building in California to produce its own displays, Bloomberg is reporting, citing people who claim to have knowledge of its plans. Apple is building screens using MicroLED technology and is planning to test a small number of them to see how they might fare on its devices.

MicroLED is considered the next major leap in screen technology. In addition for enabling brighter panels and being more power-efficient than OLED, MicroLED will also give device makers the flexibility to deliver thinner and differently shaped products.

According to the report, MicroLED is difficult to produce and Apple itself has been facing problems. The company considered ditching the idea last year before making a breakthrough. Now the company has moved into the latter phases and is getting ready to test MicroLED on its products.

MORE: OLED Killer? Apple Has Big Plans for MicroLED Screens

It's unclear at this point when MicroLED could come to some of Apple's devices. However, the company is expected to deliver MicroLED on the Apple Watch first, since the screen is smaller and therefore easier to control, according to the report. If all goes well, Apple could decide to bring MicroLED to more products in the future, including the company's iPhone.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Apple currently relies on LG and Samsung, among others, to deliver the screen technology in its products. By developing its own panels, Apple can cut its competitors out of that equation and produce its own screens. The move could be especially important on the iPhone, where Apple spends billions on displays.

Samsung has also been working on MicroLED technology for its big-screen TVs. The Wall TV, which uses MicroLED can grow to as much 146 inches. And during out hands-on time with the set, we were blow away by the picture quality.

According to the report, Apple's MicroLED effort is codenamed T159 and is being managed by Lynn Young, one of the company's executives. Apple's MicroLED screens are being manufactured at a 62,000-square-foot facility in Santa Clara, Calif. According to Bloomberg, 300 Apple engineers are working on the technology.

If all goes well, Apple could offer its MicroLED technology in products within the next few years, starting with the Apple Watch.

Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.