Apple currently sources displays from Samsung, LG, and BOE, but it does have plans to switch to custom panels, reducing its dependency on the three manufacturers. This entire process will start when it introduces microLED technology for the next Apple Watch Ultra. However, one display analyst says that LG will be the one providing those panels for the upcoming flagship wearable, so in one way or another, Apple will still be dependent on a supplier.
New Apple Watch Ultra with LG’s microLED screens not expected to launch until 2025
LG is said to be constructing a small-capacity production line solely to mass-produce microLED panels for the new Apple Watch Ultra, according to display analyst Ross Young, who provided the necessary details in a tweet. He also believes that mass production of these displays will commence in the second half of 2024, meaning that the launch of the new model will happen sometime in 2025.
However, in an investors’ note from analyst Jeff Pu, the microLED Apple Watch Ultra could launch as soon as 2024 and will feature a bigger display compared to its predecessor. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman also stated that consumers could see the bigger smartwatch as early as next year, so these estimated launch timelines are all over the place at this time.
We published in our November Capex Report that LGD is building a small line for microLED backplanes for the Apple Watch. It doesn't start production till 2H'24. It is this small line that will likely assemble microLEDs from Apple for '25 launch. Apple won't do the full process.
— Ross Young (@DSCCRoss) January 13, 2023
As for why Apple is supposedly sticking with LG to mass produce microLED panels when its intention is to reduce dependency on these suppliers, Young comments that the technology giant will rely on its partners to some extent since it cannot partake in the entire process. Naturally, establishing entire display production lines that need to produce millions of units is a painstaking and expensive process, not to mention the required expertise will be difficult to procure.
In short, it will cost Apple less to depend on one supplier than to establish its own facility from scratch. After the Apple Watch Ultra with microLED technology finally launches and the company is confident about these displays, it is expected to bring it to other products, but the entire transition could take around 10 years. If you are waiting for microLED to arrive to the iPhone or iPad much sooner, we will advise you to muster up a significant amount of patience.
News Source: Ross Young