Technology

Apple reportedly developing custom displays for its devices

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Apple Inc. is designing custom displays for its handsets and smartwatches, according to a new report.

Bloomberg reported late Tuesday that the custom displays will be based on microLED pixels, the newest and most advanced screen technology on the market. The technology is not yet widely used in the mobile industry. To date, hardware makers such as Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. have implemented microLED in a limited number of high-end TVs.

A standard LED display includes a component known as a backlight that provides illumination for its pixels. Usually, the backlight is implemented as a layer of light-emitting diodes behind the pixels. There is one diode for every few hundred or thousand pixels.

The microLED technology that reportedly powers Apple’s custom displays features a different design. The technology also includes light-emitting diodes, but they’re significantly smaller than the ones in a standard LED display. As a result, the diodes can be used as pixels, which removes the need to implement a screen’s backlight and pixels as two separate components.

The OLED display technology found in Apple’s latest iPhones is based on a similar concept. However, microLED are brighter and consume less power. Additionally, it’s believed the technology is less prone to a type of common malfunction known as screen burn-in.

According to sources cited by Bloomberg, current prototypes of Apple’s custom microLED displays “make content appear like it’s painted on top of the glass.” Additionally, the displays reportedly make it easier to view content from an angle.  

Apple has set up manufacturing facilities in Santa Clara, California and Taiwan to produce test versions of its displays. Mass production will reportedly be entrusted to an external supplier after product development is complete.

It’s believed that the first Apple device to feature custom microLED displays could ship in 2024 or 2025. Initially, the company is expected to incorporate the technology into high-end Apple Watches. Custom displays will reportedly be added to the iPhone lineup and other devices further down the line.

The report about Apple’s display development efforts comes a few days after it emerged that the company is designing a custom Wi-Fi and Bluetooth chip for its devices. The chip could reportedly start shipping in 2025.

As part of its component development efforts, Apple is also working to design a custom mobile modem. A mobile modem is a chip that handsets use to connect to wireless networks. Apple currently sources such chips from Qualcomm Inc., but could reportedly switch to an internally-designed module  late 2024 or early 2025.

Photo: Unsplash

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