amsOSRAM To Halt Micro LED In Apple Watches, Reevaluates Strategy

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Apple may reconsider MicroLEDs for the Apple Watch within the next five years, if more viable Micro LED technologies emerge, for now it seems difficult.

amsOSRAM, a significant supplier for the Apple Watch project, has announced a reevaluation of its Micro LED strategy, including recording non-cash impairment charges related to the Micro LED chip fabrication. This development suggests a potential halt or cancellation of Micro LED display implementation in Apple Watches, surprising the industry.

Apple had been collaborating with LG Display to develop 2.13-inch Micro LED displays for its 2024 Apple Watch model. However, Apple’s plans to use Micro LED technology for its Ultra smartwatch have faced multiple delays, leading to a scenario where the project is either pending or canceled.

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The delay or cancellation is primarily likely due to the high costs associated with Apple’s Micro LED display technology, which uses RGB (red, green and blue) separate LEDs on thin film transistors (TFT) with Micro IC integration. The cost simulation by Omdia for a 2.13-inch display with a 540×440 resolution and over 900,000 LEDs revealed it to be more than twice as expensive as other Micro LED displays and over three times the cost of current OLED technology.

micro LED

Given the high costs, there is a dilemma regarding the balance between technology advancement and economic viability. High-end smartwatches currently using OLED technology, such as the Apple Watch Ultra, Hermès Apple Watch, Tag Heuer’s E4 Golf and Garmin’s MARQ, already provide a satisfactory user experience with features like brightness, power consumption, and durability. 

While Micro LED displays could enhance these features, their significantly higher cost raises questions about acceptance by brands, OEMs, and consumers. To make its way into the market, a high cost technology should be adopted, endorsed and promoted by a strong brand or OEM (original equipment manufacturer).

Apple may postpone or abandon its Micro LED smartwatch plans due to the current economic infeasibility of the technology. However, continuous research and development in Micro LED technology might lead Apple to reconsider this approach for the Apple Watch within the next five years, especially if more viable Micro LED technologies emerge.

This doesn’t signify the end for Micro LED displays but may impact the forecast for their use in smartwatches. Applications in AR/VR/XR, automotive displays, transparent interfaces, and large-screen TVs are progressing towards commercialisation. Overall Micro LED future market prospects are promising.

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