To reduce its reliance on suppliers and cut operational costs, Apple is working on in-house screens for future products. Bloomberg reports that the tech giant plans to use its custom display as early as 2024 starting with its highest-end smartwatch, the Apple Watch Ultra.
Currently, the tech company is in business with technology partners like Samsung, LG, BOE, and others to manufacture OLED displays for its devices and faces production challenges because of this dependence.
Reportedly, its biggest display supplier, Samsung took some time before agreeing to manufacture the ‘two stack tandem’ OLED panels for iPads and Macs. BOE changed the design of OLED panels for iPhone 13 by expanding the circuit width of the thin-film transistor without Apple’s approval.
2023 Apple Watch models to receive modest upgrades
The Cupertino tech giant has been developing its in-house displays for years. In 2018, it was first reported that Apple’s custom display, codenamed T159, would debut on Apple Watch. In 2020, it was reported that Apple was planning to invest $330 million in a new Taiwanese factory at Hsinchu Science Park to manufacture microLED and mini-LED displays for its future products.
However, the project was delayed due to high costs and technical challenges and the company could not introduce the microLED screen in 2020 as it had aimed.
According to the report, Wei Chen is now heading Apple’s display technology group within Johny Srouji’s Hardware Technologies division and the company has started testing microLED displays for the next-generation Apple Watch Ultra.
Compared with current Apple Watches, the next- generation displays are designed to offer brighter, more vibrant colors and the ability to be better seen at an angle. The displays make content appear like it’s painted on top of the glass, according to people who have seen them, who asked not to be identified because the project is still under wraps.
Earlier, display analyst Ross Young said that the Cupertino tech giant would debut the first-generation Apple Watch with a microLED display but he said it would go into mass production at the end of 2024 for the launch in spring 2025.
As the new displays will be the most significant update in the upcoming Apple Watch, the 2023 smartwatch models will feature modest updates mainly focusing on faster processors and health sensors. The report also mentions that it will take years for the company to switch iPhones from OLED to microLED displays.
Samsung and LG to suffer a blow after Apple’s screen switch
The tech giant’s move is likely to impact its display partners Samsung Display and LG Display which are two main suppliers of watch screens.
The changes are part of a sweeping effort to replace Apple supplies with homegrown parts, an undertaking that will give the company more control over the design and capabilities of its products. The tech giant has dropped Intel Corp. chips in its Mac computers in favor of in-house designs and plans to do the same with the key wireless components in its iPhones.
The move will deal a blow to Samsung Display Co. and LG Display Co., the two main suppliers of the watch’s screens.
Recently, it was reported that the tech giant was planning on replacing Broadcom’s Wi-Fi + Bluetooth chip with its in-house design. The company is also expected to debut its custom 5G modem in 2024- 2025 to end reliance on Qualcomm.