Reviews - February 6, 2024

MicroLED Apple Watch Ultra may be delayed due to supply chain issues

Apple is widely expected to introduce a MicroLED display in the Apple Watch Ultra, but a new report out of South Korea suggests the company may not have its supply chain in place early enough to launch the device until 2026.

Apple Watch Ultra Adventure
Throughout last year, Taiwanese research firm TrendForce had predicted a 2026 launch window for the device. This is later than several other sources, which center on 2025. however ElectricIssues related to high manufacturing costs and production yields remain the biggest obstacles to mass production of the microLED Apple Watch Ultra and may delay its launch beyond 2026.

Apple has reportedly been developing custom MicroLED display technology for nearly a decade. Advanced displays offer improved brightness, color reproduction, dynamic range, viewing angles, and efficiency, making images appear “painted” onto the display glass.

While the current Apple Watch Ultra’s display size is 1.93 inches, the soon-to-be-released MicroLED model is expected to have a 2.12-inch screen. The problem for Apple is that the cost of manufacturing a screen with such a high pixel density is still considered unaffordable for a device that currently sells for $799. According to the report, simulated yields show that a 2.12-inch screen would cost $150, which is four times the cost of producing a traditional OLED display ($38). As a benchmark, a panel priced at $150 typically sells to consumers around $1,500.

For example, $150 is more expensive than it costs to make OLED displays for the 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch iPhone 15 ($80 and $120, respectively). In terms of current panel costs, the microLED Apple Watch Ultra will likely cost more than Apple’s latest premium iPhone. The issue is so problematic that even a 2027 release date for the device may be overly optimistic, today’s report claims.

Apple is known to be planning to replace all existing LCD, OLED, and Mini LED panels with MicroLED in the long term, and this technology is scheduled to expand from Apple Watch to iPhone, iPad, Mac, and iPhone. Vision Pro headset. The project is part of Apple’s plan to reduce its dependence on Samsung as a supplier and benefit from engineering its own displays in-house. However, microLED adoption may still be somewhat difficult if companies can’t get all their ducks in a row in terms of component supply chain.