Apple is investing in a new display factory to produce screens for iPhones, MacBooks, iPads, Apple Watch, and perhaps other products we don't even know about today. This factory is not located in China, but in Taiwan. Apple has found two partners for this project. It will be a while before we see MicroLEDs in iPhones, though.
MicroLED is something of the future when it comes to display technologies. Basically, MicroLEDs are similar to the so-called OLEDs. In both MicroLED and OLED panels, the subpixels are small light-emitting diodes that light up on their own. OLED displays, however, are made of an organic carbon compound, whereas MicroLED is completely synthetic. Colors and contrasts should be relatively equal for MicroLED and OLED. The main difference, however, is the lifetime of the display panels. Since OLEDs use organic material and are therefore not protected from decay, micro-LEDs should last much longer and retain their luminosity.
Apple's investment is expected to be around $330 million and will go to LED specialist Epistar and panel producer AU Optronics. They will then build the new factory for Apple.
MicroLED not yet ready for series production
It could still take some time before the first MicroLED panels for Apple products come off the assembly line in series. This is because so far no manufacturer in the world has succeeded in getting MicroLEDs ready for series production. At present, production is still very expensive, so that manufacturing in large quantities is not yet worthwhile. At the 2018 CES we had already seen an impressive concept from Samsung. The giant screen dubbed "The Wall" was the highlight of the fair at that time and reflects the flexibility in product design that MicroLED brings. The prototype for a MicroLED screen with UHD 2 (8K) and a resolution of 7,680 x 4,320 pixels measured an incredible 146 inches. The TV monster never came onto the market. Instead, Samsung marked its territory and showed the current state of the possibilities with this prototype.
Market observers assume that large quantities of MicroLED displays can only be expected from 2024 onwards. So there is still a lot of research and development to be done before we can hold any devices in our hands. The location of the new factory should be chosen accordingly: it should be located directly in a science park.