Apple is reportedly opting for micro-LED displays instead of OLED, starting with the Watch Series 3 that's expected to launch later this year.
Compared with OLED and LCD, the next-generation screen technology is a significant step-up when it comes to consumer devices, as it's thinner, lighter, and more energy-efficient.
However, this spells bad news for the Cupertino brand's panel suppliers Samsung and LG, potentially costing the two manufacturers $1.05 billion per year of combined losses.
Apple Sets Eyes On Micro-LED Technology
According to Business Korea, Apple will begin mass-producing micro-LED screens for the Watch Series 3 at the end of the year in Taiwan, which is in line with a 2015 report that said the company has a secret team working on the technology in the island nation.
Also, this development follows the company's acquisition of U.S.-based micro-LED maker LuxVue back in 2014. Since then, it has been getting ready to start manufacturing the panels.
Apple Goes For Micro-LED Soon After OLED
This 2017, Apple is believed to launch the iPhone 8 with an OLED display, which is evidenced by the recently inked deal with Samsung for 70 million panels. In addition, the company sources the Watch Series 1 and Series 2's OLED screens from LG.
To put two and two together, it seems that Apple is already planning to move on to micro-LED panels, replacing OLED soon after.
That means the business agreements with Samsung and LG for the panels may be put to an end if Apple decides to implement micro-LED across its devices. As mentioned earlier, the South Korean companies are estimated to lose 1.2 trillion won or $1.05 billion a year if this happens, where LG is said to suffer a loss of 230 billion won or $201.35 million.
More than that, Apple is allegedly going to use OLED displays on all iPhones by 2019, and in turn, the anticipated iPhone 9 will likely sport the screen technology. Despite that, Samsung and LG are still getting a hit since Chinese company BOE is purportedly supplying the panels.
Beyond The OLED, Micro-LED Screens
The report continues to say that Apple is making efforts to develop its own components for its devices, including but not limited to power management chips and graphics processing units, which have been previously provided by Dialog Semiconductor and Imagination Technologies respectively.
The company may also drop Samsung and SK Hynix as suppliers of DRAM and NAND flash memory chips for iPhones, as it has made a huge bid to acquire Toshiba's chip division.
To boil things down, Apple is going to equip devices with micro-LED screens, and it's starting the trend with the Watch Series 3.
It's still unclear when the Cupertino company is going to apply micro-LED displays on other devices such as the iPhone or iPad, considering it's unsure whether it'll make that move or not. However, it may be safe to bet that it'll go with the more efficient panels once it gets the technology down perfectly.