Rumor: Apple developing power-efficient micro-LED panels for 2017 Apple Watch

Posted:
in Apple Watch
While this year's Apple Watch upgrade is expected to feature largely the same OLED display as its predecessor, the wearable smartwatch could see a major overhaul next year, with Apple said to be investigating micro LED technology for a future model.




Citing its usual Taiwan-based supply chain sources, DigiTimes reported on Friday that Apple could replace OLED displays in the Apple Watch with micro-LED panels as early as the second half of 2017. It also added that Apple apparently set up a laboratory for micro-LED research and development in northern Taiwan in April of 2015.

With sizes from just one micron to 100 microns, production of micro-LED panels is currently more expensive than OLED panels, which themselves are more costly than the LCD displays Apple uses in most of its products, including the iPhone, iPad and MacBook lineups.

Friday's report was scant on details beyond that, but it is based in some truth: Apple acquired micro-LED display maker LuxVue in May of 2014.

Currently, Apple relies on third-party vendors for screens in its devices, including major rivals like Samsung. The acquisition of LuxVue was seen as a potential sign that Apple could bring development of new display technology in-house, rather than relying on outside suppliers.




It should be noted that DigiTimes has an unreliable track record in predicting Apple's future product plans. Though the publication does occasionally provide accurate information from Apple's supply chain, it frequently gets both timing and features wrong on upcoming products.

But Apple's purchase of LuxVue and its power-sipping display technology would have perhaps the greatest benefit in the Apple Watch, where energy efficiency is crucial. And so the pursuit of micro-LED specifically for use in a next-generation wearable would make some logical sense.

Display experts familiar with micro-LED technology said in 2015 that they believe the technology is a suitable successor for OLED, and they viewed the Apple Watch as a good candidate to utilize micro-LED displays. Apple currently uses OLED technology for the Apple Watch display, which helps to extend the device's battery life. It is Apple's first device with an OLED display.

Micro-LED technology is not currently in any shipping consumer products, and it's currently difficult to build display panels of any meaningful size, so it's possible that rumors of a 2017 launch could be too ambitious. But if Apple does manage to find a breakthrough with micro-LED, it could become the first company to introduce micro-LED to the masses.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 45
    I actually expected Apple to skip OLED in the iPhone for MicroLED. But yeah, they didn't buy LuxVue for nothing. 
    jackansirepressthisanton zuykoviqatedo
  • Reply 2 of 45
    So they can innovate enough to update the watch yearly, but the iPhone is every three years now, and the Mac Pro, Mac mini, Thunderbolt Display, etc. is once in a blue moon? I don't understand their priorities anymore. 
    jackansirepressthis
  • Reply 3 of 45
    So they can innovate enough to update the watch yearly, but the iPhone is every three years now, and the Mac Pro, Mac mini, Thunderbolt Display, etc. is once in a blue moon? I don't understand their priorities anymore. 
    The Mac Pro hasn't been Apple's fault. If you knew the technical issues at hand, you'd be hard pressed to decide when to update it too. 
    lollivernolamacguynetmagejony0
  • Reply 4 of 45
    So they can innovate enough to update the watch yearly, but the iPhone is every three years now, and the Mac Pro, Mac mini, Thunderbolt Display, etc. is once in a blue moon? I don't understand their priorities anymore. 
    The Mac Pro hasn't been Apple's fault. If you knew the technical issues at hand, you'd be hard pressed to decide when to update it too. 
    Bull. A company Apple's size and resources needs years to work it out? Not a chance. I have loved Apple, but we need to call a spade spade. They are consistently dropping the ball on the Mac business and now the iPhone business too by going to a 3-yr upgrade cycle. If they release one stinker or mediocre update with that kind of interval it would sink the product line. 
    jackansimj web
  • Reply 5 of 45
    The Mac Pro hasn't been Apple's fault. If you knew the technical issues at hand, you'd be hard pressed to decide when to update it too. 
    Bull. A company Apple's size and resources needs years to work it out? Not a chance. I have loved Apple, but we need to call a spade spade. They are consistently dropping the ball on the Mac business and now the iPhone business too by going to a 3-yr upgrade cycle. If they release one stinker or mediocre update with that kind of interval it would sink the product line. 
    This is because you don't understand what you're talking about. 

    Apple has had three blocks at the bare minimum; lack of compelling new GPU's, lack of adequate CPU upgrades, and the wait for Thunderbolt 3. As it stands right now the remaining block is GPU's; they'll have to choose between a Fiji part or waiting a hair longer for a Polaris or Vega-derived solution. 

    So sure, you can continue to rage like a child, or you can educate yourself. 
    ihxolollivernolamacguylevibrucemcrepressthisnetmagepropodcapasicumSpamSandwich
  • Reply 6 of 45
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,750member
    I think this is bull. I highly doubt we'll see a new Watch every year. If Apple is planning to make this change next year then I doubt we'll see a new Watch this year.
    jackansilollivernolamacguyrepressthiscnocbuijony0
  • Reply 7 of 45
    levilevi Posts: 344member
    I actually expected Apple to skip OLED in the iPhone for MicroLED. But yeah, they didn't buy LuxVue for nothing. 
    Suspect the technology isn't quit there yet. Supply capacity is another factor. 
    repressthis
  • Reply 8 of 45
    So they can innovate enough to update the watch yearly, but the iPhone is every three years now, and the Mac Pro, Mac mini, Thunderbolt Display, etc. is once in a blue moon? I don't understand their priorities anymore. 
    The Apple Watch was introduced almost 2 years ago and has yet to be updated.
    levilollivernolamacguyrepressthisnetmage
  • Reply 9 of 45
    levilevi Posts: 344member
    I think this is bull. I highly doubt we'll see a new Watch every year. If Apple is planning to make this change next year then I doubt we'll see a new Watch this year.
    Why would Apple leave money on the table? Let competitors catch up or surpass them? The wearable market is just getting started, and is projected to explode in the next 3-5 years. I suspect we'll see annual or near annual upgrades going forward. 
    repressthis
  • Reply 10 of 45
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,330member
    Apple's use of OLED in the watch has more to do with the displays thinness, a major issue in smartwatches, then it has to do with efficiency. If backgrounds are black, or close to it, then, and only then, will an OLED show higher efficiency. But if it isn't, then there's no meaningful difference. If the background is while, or close to it, then efficiency is lower than that of LCD.
    jony0
  • Reply 11 of 45
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,330member
    So they can innovate enough to update the watch yearly, but the iPhone is every three years now, and the Mac Pro, Mac mini, Thunderbolt Display, etc. is once in a blue moon? I don't understand their priorities anymore. 

    I've been reading that Apple is working on a massive upgrade to the phone for 2017, marking the 10th year the phone has been available. If that's true, then I can imagine that Apple is doing its usual under the hood improvements rather than making a serious case change which would again change the next year. So, if true, it makes sense.
    lollivernolamacguyrepressthis
  • Reply 12 of 45
    levilevi Posts: 344member
    So they can innovate enough to update the watch yearly, but the iPhone is every three years now, and the Mac Pro, Mac mini, Thunderbolt Display, etc. is once in a blue moon? I don't understand their priorities anymore. 
    They're prioritizing what sells the most - or in the case of the watch, what is projected to. laptops and desktops are more mature. The tech doesn't progress as fast as newer categories like the phone or wearables. Also, keep in mind that the supposed 3 yr cycle for iPhone is a rumor, not fact.
    lolliverrepressthis
  • Reply 13 of 45
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,330member

    So they can innovate enough to update the watch yearly, but the iPhone is every three years now, and the Mac Pro, Mac mini, Thunderbolt Display, etc. is once in a blue moon? I don't understand their priorities anymore. 
    The Mac Pro hasn't been Apple's fault. If you knew the technical issues at hand, you'd be hard pressed to decide when to update it too. 

    I can't agree with that. In the past, Apple has upgraded its machines as often as 4 times a year, whenever a slightly faster PPC chip came out. Then, with Intel, it was twice a year. There's no excuse as to why the Mac Pro hasn't been upgraded since the late 2013 arrival of the "new" model. Intel has had several newer chip technologies arrive, and we've seen several generations of GPUs, as well as faster RAM and NAND.

    I'd like to know what technical issues you're talking about.
    repressthis
  • Reply 14 of 45
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,330member

    Bull. A company Apple's size and resources needs years to work it out? Not a chance. I have loved Apple, but we need to call a spade spade. They are consistently dropping the ball on the Mac business and now the iPhone business too by going to a 3-yr upgrade cycle. If they release one stinker or mediocre update with that kind of interval it would sink the product line. 
    This is because you don't understand what you're talking about. 

    Apple has had three blocks at the bare minimum; lack of compelling new GPU's, lack of adequate CPU upgrades, and the wait for Thunderbolt 3. As it stands right now the remaining block is GPU's; they'll have to choose between a Fiji part or waiting a hair longer for a Polaris or Vega-derived solution. 

    So sure, you can continue to rage like a child, or you can educate yourself. 

    Thats nonsense! The entire industry has upgraded, and you say there's no real upgrades to these parts? Nuts! A double the performance Mac Pro could have been out already,mis Apple really wanted it to.

    I'm concerned that they simply aren't interested. They just discontinued their display, stating that there are plenty of good third party displays to use. This is what they say when discontinuing product lines. They've pro-consumered some of their high end software too. Are they pushing us Mac Pro users to an iMac? I surely hope not. If they don't have a new model by the end of this year, I'm going to get very worried they won't ever have a new model. I hate to say so, but more and more Mac Pro users are moving to Windows. You won't want to believe that, but go to the pro video editing forums.
    repressthisjackansicnocbuiSpamSandwich
  • Reply 15 of 45
    melgross said:

    This is because you don't understand what you're talking about. 

    Apple has had three blocks at the bare minimum; lack of compelling new GPU's, lack of adequate CPU upgrades, and the wait for Thunderbolt 3. As it stands right now the remaining block is GPU's; they'll have to choose between a Fiji part or waiting a hair longer for a Polaris or Vega-derived solution. 

    So sure, you can continue to rage like a child, or you can educate yourself. 

    Thats nonsense! The entire industry has upgraded, and you say there's no real upgrades to these parts? Nuts! A double the performance Mac Pro could have been out already,mis Apple really wanted it to.

    I'm concerned that they simply aren't interested. They just discontinued their display, stating that there are plenty of good third party displays to use. This is what they say when discontinuing product lines. They've pro-consumered some of their high end software too. Are they pushing us Mac Pro users to an iMac? I surely hope not. If they don't have a new model by the end of this year, I'm going to get very worried they won't ever have a new model. I hate to say so, but more and more Mac Pro users are moving to Windows. You won't want to believe that, but go to the pro video editing forums.
    Please demonstrate the video card options that have been available. Remember that Apple uses AMD only. At best it would have been a minor bump. 

    If Apple had launched a new model in 2015, then another update this year with Thunderbolt 3, people would have whined about how their computer was already obsolete. With certain crowds, Apple is damned either way. 
    lollivernolamacguypatchythepiratecapasicumSpamSandwich
  • Reply 16 of 45
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    So they can innovate enough to update the watch yearly, but the iPhone is every three years now, and the Mac Pro, Mac mini, Thunderbolt Display, etc. is once in a blue moon? I don't understand their priorities anymore. 
    correct -- you dont understand, because you arent on the inside. youre a consumer, and you have no idea what sort of innovation is produced for any given product and when. do you honestly believe the staff of the most profitable, successful tech firm in history are just sitting around twiddling their thumbs and twisting their moustaches while thinking up new ways to rip you off?

    and youre full of shit anyway, the iphone has an annual update and is always packed with new things. aka, innovation. often more so in the S models than the non.

    youre just pissy because it doesnt look different, which for some reason youve linked to your personal identity. its a tool. new power tools look just like old power tools. new cars often look like last year's car, but still have improvements.
    edited June 2016 levipatchythepirateroundaboutnownetmagepropod
  • Reply 17 of 45
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,804member
    So they can innovate enough to update the watch yearly, but the iPhone is every three years now, and the Mac Pro, Mac mini, Thunderbolt Display, etc. is once in a blue moon? I don't understand their priorities anymore. 
    Makes perfect sense. Watch is a new product category. iPhone and iPad are mature. The cycle for Watch should be faster than the others.
  • Reply 18 of 45
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,750member
    levi said:
    I think this is bull. I highly doubt we'll see a new Watch every year. If Apple is planning to make this change next year then I doubt we'll see a new Watch this year.
    Why would Apple leave money on the table? Let competitors catch up or surpass them? The wearable market is just getting started, and is projected to explode in the next 3-5 years. I suspect we'll see annual or near annual upgrades going forward. 
    Why? People aren't going to buy a new watch every year. And what are they going to update anyway? A slightly faster processor? This isn't like phones with big camera updates.
    nolamacguy
  • Reply 19 of 45
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,750member
    melgross said:

    The Mac Pro hasn't been Apple's fault. If you knew the technical issues at hand, you'd be hard pressed to decide when to update it too. 

    I can't agree with that. In the past, Apple has upgraded its machines as often as 4 times a year, whenever a slightly faster PPC chip came out. Then, with Intel, it was twice a year. There's no excuse as to why the Mac Pro hasn't been upgraded since the late 2013 arrival of the "new" model. Intel has had several newer chip technologies arrive, and we've seen several generations of GPUs, as well as faster RAM and NAND.

    I'd like to know what technical issues you're talking about.
    One would assume just sticking new CPUs or GPUs in to the Mac Pro shell wouldn't be that difficult or consume a lot of resources. So if these parts are available why wouldn't a Apple just do one of their silent updates?
    repressthisjackansicnocbui
  • Reply 20 of 45
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,494member
    melgross said:


    I can't agree with that. In the past, Apple has upgraded its machines as often as 4 times a year, whenever a slightly faster PPC chip came out. Then, with Intel, it was twice a year. There's no excuse as to why the Mac Pro hasn't been upgraded since the late 2013 arrival of the "new" model. Intel has had several newer chip technologies arrive, and we've seen several generations of GPUs, as well as faster RAM and NAND.

    I'd like to know what technical issues you're talking about.
    One would assume just sticking new CPUs or GPUs in to the Mac Pro shell wouldn't be that difficult or consume a lot of resources. So if these parts are available why wouldn't a Apple just do one of their silent updates?
    I wouldn't assume "just sticking" is part of Apple's MO.
    edited June 2016
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