A report from the Chinese-language Economic Daily News (via DigiTimes) says Foxconn is investing in MicroLED display technology, in hopes of winning orders from Apple for future iPhones.
MicroLED is generally considered to be the next step in displays after OLED, which is currently used by Apple in its Apple Watch and flagship iPhone lineups. MicroLED is said to offer many of the same advantages as OLED displays, offering improved color accuracy, faster response times, true blacks, and more.
MicroLED also offer improvements over OLED technology, as they are thinner, brighter, and more energy efficient than OLED panels. MicroLED’s inorganic gallium nitride-based LEDs, have a longer lifespan than the organic compound used in OLED displays, and are expected to be more resistant to burn-in issues.
Apple has been interested in MicroLED since 2014, as it acquired MicroLED manufacturer LuxVue. Apple also opened a laboratory in Taoyuan, Taiwan to research display technologies like OLED and MicroLED for future devices.
In 2018 it was reported that Apple had moved their microLED efforts a bit closer to home, opening a secret manufacturing plant in Santa Clara, California, where it is designing and testing MicroLED panels.
Apple is said to have conversations with other possible microLED suppliers, as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) could be in line to provide panels for future Apple Watch and AR wearables. Taiwan-based company PlayNitride has also been said to have discussed microLED tech with Apple.
MicroLED displays are a few years out from appearing in Apple products, with use for the Apple Watch appearing first, (perhaps in a year or so), then two to four years out for the iPhone.