Though news that Apple was hoping to transition the Apple Watch away from OLED screens to cutting-edge Micro LED displays broke last year, reports differed on the timing. The typically reliable Bloomberg called the screens “a few years” away, while hit-and-miss DigiTimes suggested Micro LED production for Watches could start in 2018 or 2019. Today, the Economic Daily News says Apple is working with two Taiwanese companies to bring Micro LED screens to the Watch “as soon as next year.”
This development is important for several reasons. For users, Micro LED screens could enable Apple Watches to become thinner and lighter than before, a welcome change from somewhat chunky initial models, or the screens might let Apple preserve the same size while delivering much longer run times. The latter approach could advance Watch use independent of a nearby iPhone.
Additionally, the new screens will supposedly be brighter, more color accurate, and potentially faster in refresh rate than their predecessors, all while consuming less energy. While there haven’t been many complaints about the current screens in Apple Watches, Micro LEDs would enable the screens to look better and give the devices another leg up over Samsung and rival options.
New suppliers Yuchuang and Suibao will reportedly handle Micro LED wafer supply and display assembly, respectively, with a 2020 street date for finished products using the modules. Economic Daily News suggests the change will help Apple reduce its dependence on Korean OLED suppliers, at first impacting Watch screens supplied by LG and later iPhone screens supplied by both Samsung and LG. Apple reportedly also planned to use Micro LEDs in an augmented reality headset, the current status of which remains unclear.