Apple is testing its own microLED display technology to be used in future devices: Report

Apple Inc is for the first time creating and testing its own display technology which could be used in future Apple devices. And it looks like the repercussions of this report are already causing mild disruptions in share prices of display makers such as Samsung and Sharp.

Apple iPhone X. Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

Apple iPhone X. Image: tech2/Rehan Hooda

According to a Bloomberg report, the Cupertino-based smartphone maker is creating its microLED display screen in a small manufacturing facility in California. The report suggests that the creation is only at a nascent stage and might take three to five years to be ready for manufacturing.

In 2017, the iPhone-maker had launched its first OLED display sporting smartphone with the iPhone X. This display was manufactured by Samsung Display for Apple. But just like Apple is planning to go it alone when it comes to internal components of the iPhone, it now looks like Apple wants to do the same with the display as well.

Owning the technology to manufacture microLED display will be a significant move for Apple. The reason being that microLED screens, as against OLED, use different light emitting compounds which consume less power and are brighter according to the report. It is also more difficult to produce than OLED displays.

This will certainly affect its display suppliers such as Samsung Display, Japan Display Inc, Sharp Corp and LG Display. In fact, according to this CNBC report, all the major display makers saw their share prices dip after the Bloomberg report regarding Apple making its own display.

Creating a microLED display is a complicated process though. There could be millions of pixels depending on the screen size. Each of the pixels is further divided into the red, green and blue LEDs which have to be individually created and calibrated. Each pixel comes from what's called a 'donor wafer' which then mass transferred to a microLED screen. According to the report, Apple initially bought these wafers from third parties such as Epistar Corp and Osram Licht AG, but has now begun 'growing' its own LEDs to make the in-house donor wafers.

Codenamed T159, the project is being overseen by Lynn Youngs who has been an Apple veteran who helped develop the touch screens for the iPhone and the iPad and is now overlooking the iPhone and Apple Watch screen technology. As of now, the Santa Clara facility has been able to manufacture only a handful of fully operational microLED screens which are the size of the Apple Watch that's under 2-inches diagonally.


Updated Date: Mar 19, 2018 09:29 AM