Amid escalating tensions with Qualcomm, Apple could replace the chip-maker’s modems with those from MediaTek in its iPhones and iPads going forward. Now, the company may also be prepping to get rid of Samsung’s display panels from its smartphones, tablets and smartwatches, according to Bloomberg, which spoke to ‘people familiar with the situation’ at Apple.
The report claims Apple is designing and producing a small number of ‘MicroLED’ display panels in a “secret manufacturing facility near its California headquarters” with a view towards using the new technology its consumer devices going forward. The company is said to be assembling prototype MicroLED screens at the secretive R&D center, while the backplanes are being developed at the company’s Taiwan facility.
The report also says that, the company is investing massive amounts of money to develop MicroLED screens, which will be first used in a future Apple Watch model. It isn’t, however, immediately clear when the panels will be ready for mass production.
In case you’re not aware, MicroLED (or µLED) panels consist of arrays of microscopic LEDs that form each individual pixel and, offer better contrast, higher brightness, faster response times and greater energy efficiency when compared to the current technologies. They are also said to have longer life-spans than OLED panels that are used in most high-end smartphones these days.
While MicroLED displays have the potential to make gadgets slimmer, brighter and less power-hungry, they are yet to be commercialized mostly because they’re notoriously difficult to manufacture at scale. In fact, Apple is believed to have almost killed off the project a couple of years ago, and has only revived it now because engineers have made enough progress to make it a commercially viable alternative to standard OLED panels in use today.