Apple is said to be working with one of its suppliers, Taiwanese TSMC, to solve a manufacturing issue which has previously prevented the manufacturing of micro-LED displays at volume.
The report, coming out of the notoriously unreliable DigiTimes, claims that Apple is working to develop new methods based on silicon wafers.
If Apple was able to produce micro-LED displays at scale then it would be able to make use of them in devices ranging from the Apple Watch to the iPhone, with the earliest iPhone with such a display potentially arriving in 2019. However, the Apple Watch, thanks to its smaller size and selling potential, could be used as a trial device for such a display, allowing Apple to iron out the kinks ahead of such a large launch like the iPhone.
Apple is reportedly collaborating with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to develop applications based on silicon-based backplanes (silicon wafers) aiming to sidestep the bottleneck that entails with the mass transfer of LED chips, indicated the sources.
Apple already has a lab in Taoyuan, Taiwan which was first reported on towards the end of 2015. The lab is used to research displays such as OLED and micro-LED with an eye to future Apple devices. We already have OLED displays in the Apple Watch and recently released iPhone X, possibly thanks to research carried out in that facility.
The arrival of a micro-LED display could see devices with improved color accuracy as well as better contrast, resulting in stronger blacks. A faster response time is also a characteristic of the technology, although the potential to be thinner and more energy efficient is likely the main driver behind Apple’s interest.
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