Apple WatchがMicroLED搭載を計画

Published January 23, 2023

先週、Appleが2024年にMicroLEDを搭載したApple Watchをリリースすることが広く報道された。DSCCでは、MicroLEDの生産は確かに2024年に始まるが、Appleからの新製品発売は2025年になる可能性が高いと見ている。

Appleは2022年、1.99インチLTPO OLEDを搭載したApple Watch Ultraを発表した。価格は799ドルで、Apple Watchシリーズでも新たなプレミアム製品カテゴリーに位置付けられるものである。MicroLEDバージョンはさらに大型化し2.1インチディスプレイを搭載、価格もさらに高くなる可能性があるという報道も複数見られる。

MicroLEDは現行のWatch Ultraに搭載されているLTPO OLEDの5倍以上の価格になるとDSCCでは見ている。これは、Appleが799ドル超の新たな価格帯を設けようとしていることを意味する。また、Appleが近い将来iPhoneにMicroLEDを採用する可能性は低いという意味でもある。

Apple Plans MicroLED Watch

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It was widely reported last week that Apple will release a MicroLED Watch in 2024. Our understanding is that production of the MicroLED displays will indeed start in 2024, but Apple will likely launch the new product in 2025.

In 2022, Apple introduced the Apple Watch Ultra with a 1.99” LTPO OLED display. The $799 price tag set a new premium category within the Apple Watch product. According to some reports, the MicroLED version could be even bigger, with a 2.1” display and an even higher price point.

We understand the MicroLED display will cost more than 5× the price of the LTPO OLED panel in the current Watch Ultra. This will likely mean that Apple will create a new price tier above the $799 level. It also indicates that Apple is unlikely to use MicroLED in the iPhone anytime soon.

MicroLED is supposed to bring benefits in terms of power efficiency and brightness, but it remains to be seen how these will be improved in real usage. In addition, OLEDs continue to narrow the efficiency gap with MicroLEDs with tandem stacks, phosphorescent blue emitters, polarizer free OLEDs all contributing to large gains. In addition, it isn’t clear if MicroLEDs can maintain an efficiency advantage as die sizes shrink which will be necessary to bring costs down.

In our November Quarterly Display Capex and Equipment Market Share Report (一部実データ付きサンプルをお送りします), DSCC published that LG Display was building a small line for MicroLED backplanes for the Apple Watch. However, the line does not start production until 2H'24, which would be consistent with a 2025 product launch.

The MicroLEDs are expected to come exclusively from Osram initially, but Epistar may eventually be included as a second source. TSMC is expected to be involved as well, likely fabricating the driver IC. The backplane from LGD is expected to be LTPS or LTPO. The 2.1” display is expected to have a resolution of around 325 PPI, significantly less than what we see in smartphones, but consistent with the current Apple Watch Ultra. Who is performing the transfer remains top secret, but we hear it will be done electrostatically which should not be a surprise since that is the approach Luxvue, the MicroLED company Apple acquired in 2014, had been pioneering.

The fact the LG Display is in the supply chain disproves some comments that Apple is trying to be independent from panel suppliers. Some industry observers are talking about microdriver ICs as a replacement for TFT, but it appears that Apple will use a TFT backplane, at least initially.

For more information on MicroLED technology and markets, please see our MicroLED Display Technology and Market Outlook Report (一部実データ付きサンプルをお送りします).

MicroLED Display Technology and Market Outlook Report



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Written by

Dr. Guillaume Chansin