In late 2017, for the first time, engineers managed to manufacture fully functional MicroLED screens for future Apple Watches; the company aims to make the new technology available first in its wearable computers. While still at least a couple of years away from reaching consumers — assuming the company decides to proceed — producing a functional MicroLED Apple Watch prototype is a significant milestone for a company that in the past designed hardware to be produced by others.
Apple’s trend has been to control more and more of its critical components, so there’s no surprise here. Screens are integral to pretty much every device it makes, and up until now, it’s been highly dependent on products from Samsung, Sharp, LG, and other large electronics firms. It would be more shocking if Apple hadn’t tried to develop its own displays.
It also makes sense that Apple would try to raise the bar by focusing on the next-generation MicroLED tech instead of OLED.
At the moment, MicroLED appears to be labor-intensive and not terribly cost efficient. If Apple continues the investment, that will no doubt change, but as Gurman says, don’t expect to see these in any products for a least a couple years. And if you’re holding out for a MicroLED iPhone, that’s going to be even longer.