The type of material is predicted to take over the OLED throne
microLED is increasingly “hot” after Apple – the world’s largest consumer electronics company – is expected to use this technology in new generation Apple Watch watches, reducing dependence on OLED. Currently, two Korean companies, Samsung and LG, are supplying mainly OLED panels.
Over the past few years, OLEDs have been increasingly used in high-end TVs, smartphones and wearables to provide better picture quality. However, microLED is better appreciated for being more durable, longer life cycle and more energy efficient.
According to Yi Choong Hoon, CEO of display market tracker UBI Research, one of the main reasons why Apple plans to switch to microLED is that it is much more energy efficient than OLED. Thus, smartphones and wearables will have stronger batteries.
microLED is a flat panel technology that uses microscopic self-illuminating diodes to form pixels. Like OLED, microLED is a self-illuminating display that doesn’t need a backlight. They possess advantages such as perfect blacks, vibrant colors, wide viewing angles. Compared with OLED, microLED offers brighter, better contrast, more durable and less prone to burn-in screens due to being made of inorganic materials. Burn-in is the degeneration of pixels, causing the device screen to turn pink, green, or yellow.
However, the expensive and risky manufacturing process makes microLED not yet competitive with OLED. In the long run, microLED will be cheaper as the technology matures. During this period, the finished products will be more expensive than using OLED screens.
An industry official expressed skepticism about Apple’s widespread use of microLED. Typically, Apple rarely adopts new technology earlier than the competition to reduce initial risks. They are also slower when it comes to OLED. microLED too, the official told the Korea Herald.
However, Apple’s move is likely to provoke rivals and suppliers to get ready. Competitor Samsung also started applying microLED for small devices after introducing the first microLED TV model in 2020.
According to sources, Samsung is not considering using microLED for smartphones and wearables because the technology has not yet developed. Earlier this year, display company Samsung Display set up a microLED research group, but the main goal is to produce panels for augmented reality devices by 2024.
Mr. Yi revealed that Apple could work with a Malaysian company to produce LED chips, while still leaving the module production to a Korean display company.
(According to Korea Herald)