MicroLED Apple Watch Ultra production may be delayed due to supply chain issues

Tim Hardwick

Apple is expected to equip the Apple Watch Ultra with a microLED display, but a new report out of Korea suggests the company may not have set up the supply chain early enough to release the device by 2026.

For the past year, Taiwanese research firm TrendForce had been projecting a 2026 launch date for the device. This is later than some other sources, which focused on 2025. However, according to The Elec, issues related to high production costs and yield remain the biggest obstacles to mass production of the microLED Apple Watch Ultra and could even delay the release beyond 2026. .

Apple has reportedly been working on its own microLED display technology for almost a decade. The enhanced display delivers improved brightness, color reproduction, dynamic range, viewing angles and efficiency so images appear as if they were “painted” onto the display glass.

The current Apple Watch Ultra has a display size of 1.93 inches, while the expected microLED model will have a 2.12-inch screen. The problem for Apple is that the cost of producing a screen with such a high pixel density is still considered prohibitive for a device that currently sells for $799. According to the report, simulation results show that a 2.12-inch screen costs $150, which is four times the production cost of an existing OLED display ($38). As a guide, consumer sales of products with a panel price of US$150 are typically around US$1,500.

For example, US$150 is more expensive than the manufacturing cost of OLED displays for 6.1″ and 6.7″ -inch displays. inch iPhone 15, which cost $80 and $120 respectively. In terms of panel cost at the moment, the micro-LED Apple Watch Ultra will cost more than Apple's latest premium iPhones. The problem is so problematic that even a device launch in 2027 may be too optimistic, a report said today.

Apple is reportedly planning to replace all existing LCD, OLED and mini-LED panels. long term with microLED, with the technology designed to scale from Apple Watch to iPhone, iPad, Mac and Vision Pro headset. The project is part of Apple's plan to reduce its dependence on Samsung as a supplier while benefiting from developing its own displays in-house. But unless the company can succeed in the component supply chain, microLED adoption is still a long way off.

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