Apple is secretly developing MicroLED screens for future iPhones

Apple Inc’s iPhone X

Apple has in the past chosen to rely less on third-party suppliers for some of its component needs including processors for its mobile devices.

The iPhone maker is producing limited quantities of screens "for testing purposes" at a facility located close to its headquarters in California, according to the Bloomberg report, which cited several anonymous sources. Unlike current OLED screens, the new screens will use different light-emitting compounds, which will make future gadgets, 'slimmer, brighter and less power-hungry'.

Bloomberg says that Apple opened a research lab in Taiwan about a year after the acquisition to test if the company could pull off in-house display manufacturing. However, engineers have made advancements allowing Apple to move ahead with the project.

It's likely that consumers will see the MicroLED display appear in a future generation Apple Watch before eventually making its way to the iPhone. Most likely, the Apple Watch will be the first to get the new screen whenever that day comes. This could take three to five years.

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While the facility is allegedly not large enough for full-scale production, it's well-enough equipped to handle the entirety of the development process and, as a result, potentially secure MicroLED displays as the company's own patented tech.

Apple now designs chips for its mobile devices and a move into displays could hurt screen makers like Samsung, Japan Display, Sharp, and LG in the long term.

The first functional MicroLED screen produced by the project was reportedly achieved in an Apple Watch prototype late a year ago, albeit without its wearable and portable functionality. The cost of producing OLED displays remains high, however, and has been mooted as a reason the next LG G7 (or its equivalent), will feature an LCD panel.

The 62,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, the first of its kind for Apple, is located on an otherwise unremarkable street in Santa Clara, California, a 15-minute drive from the Apple Park campus in Cupertino and near a few other unmarked Apple offices. "But Apple could own MicroLED". About 300 engineers reportedly work there designing and producing MicroLED screens.


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