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Apple on the hunt for new microLED suppliers for future products

Apple Watch Ultra

While Apple's future with microLED is still hazy, and so is a an Apple Watch Ultra using the technology, Apple is hunting down new suppliers for the technology that can handle massive order volumes.

On February 29, reports surfaced alleging that the microLED Apple Watch Ultra project was probably dead, caused by Apple's cancellation of orders for microLED displays from ams Osram. In a follow-up report, it seems that Apple is still keen to work on microLED — but perhaps not for the Apple Watch Ultra.

According to DigiTimes on Monday, Apple has multiple teams working on microLED projects, and has been continuing to search for alternative suppliers since 2023.

While Osram is out of the picture, the apparent favorites for orders are AU Optronics and PlayNitride. The former has started the mass production of microLED display panels intended for smart watches, and the latter produces chips associated with the small displays.

Scaling problems are causing issues in talks between Apple and PlayNitride. AU Optronics, meanwhile, is considered a good potential partner for Apple's production needs.

The report also delves into the potential high cost of microLED production that could be too high for Apple to seriously consider for an Apple Watch Ultra. Even so, sources told the report that the high costs for early production remain within expectations.

This is apparently based on Apple's existing track record in development, in allowing for high expenses to occur when using new technologies. Apple's has historically mitigated cost concerns, by the scaling up of production over time.

Doing so still means having to deal with technology bottlenecks, such as a lack of circuit control design in the LEDs that can increase the risk of damage. Stamp technology solutions were also considered an issue, with a failure in accuracy when transferring chips.

With multiple projects in the works using microLED technology, it seems plausible that the rumored Apple Watch Ultra using the display tech could still eventually arrive — but not soon. Since there's multiple potential uses for it within Apple's empire, an Apple Watch bearing it may not be the first out of the gate.