When the first Apple Watch was released in 2015, it came with a state-of-the-art OLED screen. On every Apple Watch released, the screen looks rich, detailed, and beautiful. But a new report claims that an upcoming model will switch to an entirely new technology, MicroLED.
There’s a sting in the tail though: it won’t be until 2025.
January 13 update below. This post was first published on January 10, 2023.
According to trusted analyst Ross Young, the first Apple Watch with a MicroLED display will arrive in 2025, with production to begin in late 2024. Sounds like something that could outperform Ultra the Ultra. While Young doesn’t specify the type of watch, he suspects it could debut on the Ultra, not least because of the higher brightness MicroLED offers.
January 13 update. Now it seems that Apple is not the only company considering MicroLED as a display technology for future devices. ETNews claims that Samsung Display is also considering MicroLED. Samsung Display is the display-making part of the Korean giant, and Apple is a big customer, turning to it for OLED screens on iPhones, for example. Another branch of the same company, Samsung Electronics, already makes MicroLED TVs, but this would be a much smaller screen, of course.
The report says that it “targets smartwatches as its first product.” He also says such a product would be a game-changer in mobile devices, pointing to low power consumption as a key benefit for devices like smartwatches that only have room for small batteries.
ETNews also acknowledges that the cost of making MicroLED screens is considerable and that they can be difficult to manufacture, but Samsung Display is believed to have solved some of the problems by creating the roughly 2-inch screen that a smartwatch would need.
The timing is interesting here. As discussed below, it initially looked like the Apple Watch would have a MicroLED display, likely only on its Ultra model in spring 2025, but Gurman’s update suggests it’s more likely late 2024. However, it seems which Samsung Display is aiming for sooner, perhaps late 2023. This could mean a Samsung Galaxy smartwatch could appear late this year or, more likely, early 2024 with a MicroLED screen, which would outperform Apple by six months. or more. On the other hand, Samsung has a release schedule that sees its new smartwatches appear in the second half of each year, so it may be that MicroLED is too late for the Galaxy Watch6 Pro and saved for the following year, which could It will only be a matter of a few weeks before Apple introduces its MicroLED watch.
The big winner here would be Samsung Display, if it can win Apple as a customer as well as Samsung. But according to Gurman, it looks like Apple is working on making its own screens.
January 11 update. Introduce the following update on “this changes everything”. Hot on the heels of the revelation, covered in depth in this report, that a new MicroLED display would be coming to the Apple Watch in spring 2025, in time for Apple Watch’s ten-year celebrations, comes a different report from another trusted analyst. .
Mark Gurman in Bloomberg has weighed in on the screen discussion with a report that is similar in some respects, but completely changes the story in others. He says: “The company aims to start changing the display on high-end Apple Watches by the end of next year, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The displays upgrade the current OLED (organic light-emitting diode) standard to a technology called microLED, and Apple plans to bring the displays to other devices, including the iPhone.
Two big things here. First, the MicroLED screen is likely to land on the iPhone “eventually.” Much more interesting, however, are these phrases: “High-end Apple Watch” indicates that the new display will most likely arrive on the Apple Watch Ultra first, or at least it won’t be on the cheaper Apple Watch. models And, secondly, “by the end of next year”. This is slightly different from Young’s prediction that the display would be in production by the end of 2024 but not on sale until spring 2015.
I respect Ross Young, but I have to say that Gurman’s timeline makes a lot more sense to me, assuming it means the Apple Watch MicroLED would be out in late 2024. I never expected the Ultra to get an update in 2023 in the first place, so a new Apple Watch Ultra MicroLED landing in 2024 seems like perfect timing. Second, if the display technology were to be introduced to the Apple Watch, which would arrive on the Series 10 in 2024, that would make sense as well. Apple Watch design changed with Series 4 and then again with Series 7. So a new design for Series 10 could be sensational. That being said, I still think the Ultra is likely to get MicroLED at least a generation before the regular clock.
Gurman says that “it will be years before Apple switches the iPhone to microLED,” so don’t hold your breath. Now back to why MicroLED is so attractive.
MicroLED has been rumored for the Apple Watch for a few years. It has significant benefits over OLED, including that higher brightness, which could be especially useful on the Apple Watch Ultra. MicroLED also promises reduced burn-in and, perhaps most important of all, greater power efficiency, which could lead to longer battery life.
Release date intrigue
Interestingly, Young says it will arrive in spring 2025, which would be a break from the fall release schedule the watch usually follows. While it’s a nice way to coincide with the spring 2015 release exactly ten years later (Happy Birthday Apple Watch!), he does raise a number of questions.
First, what will happen in the fall of 2024? If Young’s timeline is correct, it seems highly unlikely that the spring 2025 release would update a fall 2024 version. Apple has never updated an Apple Watch on less than a yearly cadence, and 18 months passed between the first Apple Watch and the second.
This again makes me think that this won’t be a regular Apple Watch, almost certainly coming to the Series 10 in fall 2024.
What Ultra could it be?
My guess is that the Ultra, like the Watch SE, won’t get an annual update, at least not initially. Prior to this report, I would have assumed the Apple Watch Ultra 2 would have landed on wrists in the fall of 2024, so perhaps Apple will push its release until the following spring for that 10the Anniversary clock.
Even if there is an update to the Ultra this year, I expect the timeline to mean that the Apple Watch Ultra 3 will follow not in fall 2024, but in spring 2025. This seems very fast to me, so I still believe we’re seeing Apple Watch Ultra 2 is the model that Young predicts.
Of course, this technology may not be targeting the Ultra at all, and spring 2025 would add another watch to the lineup.
But I think we’ll see MicroLED in an Ultra model first, perhaps with the regular Watch following suit in fall 2025 in what would be Apple Watch Series 11.
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