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Apple Drops Plans to Develop MicroLED Displays for Apple Watch

Apple has ended a project to develop microLED displays in-house, according to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman in a reversal of his prior reporting on the development of the technology. Apple invested billions in developing microLED displays, with plans to first add microLED to the Apple Watch Ultra.

apple watch ultra 2 purple
MicroLED was too expensive and too complex for Apple to design, so Apple is now reorganizing its display engineering teams and laying off employees in the U.S. and Asia. Some of the displaced employees may be able to find other roles in the company, and others will be provided with severance.

Rumors that Apple had canceled plans for an Apple Watch with microLED first surfaced in February when supplier ams OSRAM said that a “cornerstone project” related to microLED had been canceled. Soon after, there were rumors that Apple had ended its relationship with Kulicke & Soffa, another company in the advanced display market.

Both analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and Display Supply Chain Consultants confirmed that Apple had canceled work on a microLED Apple Watch after these rumors, but Gurman claimed that Apple was still working on the device. In a now-deleted tweet, Gurman said that ams OSRAM was “one supplier” on the project, and that there were several other suppliers Apple was working with. “I doubt it was canceled,” he wrote.

DigiTimes and ETNews also suggested that ams OSRAM was replaced due to a performance drop and that Apple had another supplier lined up, but it appears that information was incorrect.

MicroLED technology uses microscopic LEDs for individual pixels. It’s more energy efficient than traditional LED, offers improved contrast, and has faster response times. Colors are brighter and better, and there’s no risk of burn-in as there is with OLED. Apple is said to have abandoned the project because it was not economically viable.

Gurman claims that Apple will stick with OLED display technology for the Apple Watch “for now,” but that the company is “eyeing microLED for other projects down the road.” Apple is “identifying” potential new suppliers and processes for microLED, but it “won’t likely happen anytime soon.”

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