According to media sources, Apple plans to invest $330 million to build a factory in Taiwan, China. The development of MicroLED displays will become a “top priority.” The new Taiwan factory will produce LEDs and MicroLEDs for future iPhones, iPads, MacBooks, and other devices. For Apple, mini LEDs are only a viable alternative, the real target is MicroLED.
The investment is set up as a joint venture with AU Optronics and Epistar, both leading forces in the display industry. Epistar is one of the world’s largest producers of LEDs, and AU Optronics is a leader in LCD panel manufacturing.
This venture could lead to the implementation of micro-LEDs in future iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, and MacBooks. Many have speculated that Apple will release a refresh of the new 16-inch MacBook Pro with a microLED display, though there is little evidence of these plans. However, $330 million is not a small chunk of change, even for a tech giant like Apple, so it’s likely the company will use the technology in its devices in the future.
There are good reasons for Apple to use microLED displays. While OLED is the hot new display tech, microLED offers many of the same benefits without some of the annoying drawbacks. Like OLED, microLED is an emissive display technology, meaning each pixel emits its own light. As such, microLED promises to offer the same rich colors and true blacks as OLED. However, microLED displays can be significantly brighter and should not be affected by burn-in or image retention.
Apple has six mini-LED products in the works that are set to debut in 2020 and 2021, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple is said to be debuting the technology in a high-end 12.9-inch iPad Pro, which will launch in the fall, a 27-inch iMac Pro, a 14.1-inch MacBook Pro, a 16-inch MacBook Pro, a 10.2.-inch iPad, and a 7.9-inch iPad mini.
Kuo has not mentioned launch dates for the other devices with the exception of the iMac Pro, which Kuo expects to launch in the fourth quarter of 2020, and the 7.9-inch iPad mini, which he says will launch in 2020.
Apple has also reportedly been testing prototype Apple Watch models with MicroLED displays since 2017. While rumors have suggested an Apple Watch with a microLED display could launch as early as 2020.