While Apple appears to be all-in on OLED screens externally, it seems the company is eyeing a different kind of display technology internally. Bloomberg reports that it’s secretly working on MicroLED technology at a manufacturing facility near its California headquarters.
If true, this would mark the first time Apple is making its own panels. The brand has apparently been working on the project, codenamed T159, for a while now, almost killing the initiative about a year ago because of how difficult MicroLED screens are to produce. It looks like things have improved since then, as the technology is at an advanced stage.
MicroLED displays are extremely complex to manufacture, featuring millions of pixels which in turn are composed of 3 sub-pixels namely red, blue and green. Each LED has to be individually created and calibrated from a “donor wafer” and then transferred to the main MicroLED screen.
Apple has supposedly been “growing” its own donor wafers and making small batches for testing purposes. It sounds like a lot of effort, but the upsides might be worth it. Not only will the firm free itself of being dependent on Samsung, it could also distinguish itself from OLED rivals since MicroLED panels allow for less energy-guzzling, slimmer, and brighter displays.
Sources claim that it could take another 3 to 5 years before MicroLED screens make its way to iPhones. The Apple Watch might just get its hands on the tech first, just like it got access to OLED panels first. The company has already managed to make a functioning MicroLED display for the wearable with an eye on mass producing it within the next couple of years.
All this depends on whether or not Apple decides to go ahead with its secret project. The report warns that a cancellation is a distinct possibility because of the risks and expenses involved. Ultimately, it will probably outsource production when things reach the mass manufacturing stage since its California facility isn’t equipped to deal with that kind of scale.