Though we’re anticipating to see Apple launch a brand new Apple Watch Extremely this fall, by most experiences, it will likely be a minor refresh that provides little greater than a sooner chip and presumably a brand new darker end.
Nonetheless, that doesn’t imply that Apple doesn’t have larger plans for its premium ultra-rugged wearable. We’ll simply have to attend a bit longer to see them come to fruition.
Earlier this 12 months, provide chain sources revealed that Apple is engaged on bringing a microLED show expertise to the Apple Watch Extremely. Whereas that authentic report wasn’t optimistic sufficient to consider it might occur this 12 months, it did trace at the opportunity of the expertise being prepared by late 2024. That might have introduced it in slightly below the wire for a third-generation Apple Watch Extremely launching subsequent fall, though it’s extra probably we wouldn’t have seen it till two extra generations down the street, in 2025.
Nonetheless, a more moderen report final month pegged 2026 because the earliest we’d see microLED shows on an Apple Watch, revealing that manufacturing was by no means anticipated to start earlier than the second quarter of 2025, however it had since been postponed even from that date.
Not surprisingly, it seems that producing microLED shows is tough, and Apple and its suppliers are nonetheless understanding lots of the particulars.
In a follow-up report this week, Korea’s The Elec, which first shared the 2026 timeline, provides some extra particulars explaining simply how sophisticated this course of will be for everybody concerned.
Because the “micro” moniker suggests, microLED screens use extraordinarily tiny parts, which makes manufacturing them much more difficult, particularly at scale. As The Elec and TrendForce defined final month, attempting to mass produce these shows leads to “low yield charges,” which signifies that comparatively few come off the meeting line in working order. This, in flip, drives up manufacturing prices as faulty shows must be tossed out.
Apple’s suppliers haven’t but managed to beat these limitations utilizing present strategies. At finest, LG is claimed to be utilizing a workaround that tries to restore failed models, however that’s removed from easy. It’s far less expensive to get them proper the primary time.
Nonetheless, as we speak’s report means that LG is exploring different strategies that would enhance yields and scale back manufacturing prices because of a brand new “switch printing course of.”
The most important problem in micro LED is the switch technique of densely transferring and planting chips with a dimension of a number of to tens of micrometers (?m) within the actual location. It’s because micro LED chips are small and tough to deal with.
The Elec (through Google Translate)
To unravel this downside, LG has lately bought a set of 14 microLED patents from a Taiwanese firm, most of which cowl this switch course of. Others tackle areas similar to microLED stacking, contact sensing, and purposes of microLED particular to augmented actuality (AR) and digital actuality (VR).
A number of sources have confirmed that Apple plans to depend on LG Show to supply the primary microLED shows for its merchandise, starting with the Apple Watch Extremely. The South Korean show provider was initially expected to have its first production line ready by the end of 2024, which probably led to the optimistic 2025 timeline for the primary microLED Apple Watch Extremely. It’s unclear whether or not it’s nonetheless on monitor to have this small line up and operating, however even when that’s the case, it’s solely the primary stage in an extended street to truly being able to mass-produce the shows.
Apple finally plans to carry microLED expertise to most of its higher-end product lineup, together with the iPhone, iPad, and even the Mac. Nonetheless, the Apple Watch Extremely is a straightforward place to begin as a consequence of its smaller display dimension and the decrease pixel density that makes it a lot simpler to put microLEDs since they don’t must be packed in as densely as they might on a higher-resolution gadget like an iPhone 14.
Whereas the usual Apple Watch may additionally qualify, the Extremely mannequin nonetheless has a bigger display and, extra importantly, the next asking value. In spite of everything, like all different show applied sciences which have come earlier than it, microLED is anticipated to stay fairly expensive for a while — even after LG has solved a few of the manufacturing challenges.