According to a supply chain report published Tuesday in the Chinese-language Economic Daily News, relayed by DigiTimes, contract manufacturer Foxconn has continued to deepen its deployments in micro-LED technology “through a multi-pronged approach in order to win display orders from Apple for its next-generation iPhone devices.”

Three Foxconn subsidiaries (Advanced Optoelectronic Technology, Epileds Technologies and Marketech International) are building up their capacities related to the production of micro-LED chips, indicating the promising technology is one step closer to commercial deployments.

Both micro-LED and OLED-based display panels don’t require a power-hungry backlight because they feature individually-lit pixels that deliver true blacks and high contrast.

Some of the benefits of micro-LEDs over OLEDs include:

  • Faster response times
  • Better contrast ratio
  • Enhanced color accuracy
  • Longer lifespan
  • More resistant to burn-ins
  • Higher brightness
  • Thinner panels

Apple in 2014 snapped up micro-LED specialists LuxVue.

Soon after, it set up research and development facilities in Taoyuan, Taiwan dedicated to accelerating commercialization of micro-LEDs. Bloomberg in March 2018 alleged that Apple had begun building its own micro-LED displays at a secret plant in Santa Clara, California.

microLED displays consist of arrays of microscopicLEDs forming the individual pixel elements

However, Tim Cook & Co. are likely going to need to outsource production of these panels because the California facility is reportedly too small for mass-production.

Don’t expect these power-sipping micro-LED panels to start popping in Apple’s upcoming product releases slated for later this year—the company is likely to first deploy micro-LEDs on future watches before the technology makes its way into iPhones, iPads and Macs.

Micro-LED displays shouldn’t be confused with mini-LED backlights that the California firm is said to adopt across upcoming products, beginning with a 31.6-inch standalone display due later this year and continuing with iPads in 2020 and Mac notebooks in 2021.

At any rate, Apple’s switch to OLED panels for iPhones two years ago will likely be short-lived as micro-LED panels offer better features, assuming Foxconn and other manufacturers manage to perfect the technology to the point where it could be produced on a mass scale.