Future iPhones could carry next-gen display tech developed by Foxconn

Future iPhones could carry next-gen display tech developed by Foxconn
The iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and iPhone XR devices all use LCD displays. The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, on the other hand, use higher quality OLED panels. But eventually, neither of these technologies will be found on Apple’s devices.

Micro-LED displays should solve OLED burn-in issues


According to a report by the Economic Daily News, iPhone manufacturer Foxconn is currently in the process of expanding its investment into micro-LED display manufacturing. Presumably, the company will be aiming to obtain orders from a wide range of companies once the tech is ready, but Foxconn’s primary focus is said to be future iPhone display orders.

Unlike the LCD panels found on certain iPhones at the moment, micro-LED displays require no separate backlight because the individual pixels emit light on their own. This means that, much like OLEDs, they can be made much slimmer than the equivalent LCD counterparts. 

The downside to OLED is that it relies on organic matter – the ‘O’ in OLED stands for organic. This generally isn’t an issue in the short-term, but after long periods of use the individual pixels can show signs of deterioration, an issue more commonly known as burn-in. And it is here that micro-LED panels come into play.

The iPhone X; Apple's first OLED smartphone

The iPhone X; Apple's first OLED smartphone

As opposed to OLED displays, micro-LED ones include no organic substances whatsoever. Essentially, this allows them to offer the deep blacks and high-contrasts of OLEDs while also showing no signs of wear and tear like LCD panels. Also, as an added bonus, micro-LEDs should be both brighter and more efficient. 

The Apple Watch could benefit from the tech before iPhones


Apple, just like Foxconn, is apparently investing heavily into micro-LED tech for use in its future products. In fact, just over a year ago Bloomberg reported that Apple had a secret manufacturing facility in Santa Clara, California that was being used by 300 engineers to design and develop the displays.

As for when micro-LED panels will make it to market, the expectation at the moment is that they won’t be ready for mass production until 2023 at the very earliest. And even then, it’s unlikely to be used on iPhones straight away.

Reportedly, Apple’s initial plans for the tech involve using it on future Apple Watch models. If Apple is pleased with the yield rates and overall quality of the panels, eventually the technology should make its way onto iPhones.

The Apple Watch has always used OLED displays

The Apple Watch has always used OLED displays

This implementation strategy largely mimics Apple’s initial plans for OLED. Although the displays weren’t used on iPhones until the 2017 iPhone X, the Cupertino giant had been using the panels on its Apple Watch models since the original launched in April 2015. 

Apple's near-term display plans: OLED & mini-LED


Regarding Apple’s near-term plans, it’s been reported that the 2020 iPhone lineup will switch to OLED exclusively, which means the third-generation iPhone XR will finally ditch the LCD display.

Moving into 2021, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently predicted that Apple could start adopting mini-LED displays. This technology is essentially a less advanced version of micro-LED – it’s less dense and less efficient – but it should solve the current durability issues that surround OLEDs.

Reportedly, the technology will first be used in Apple’s 2021 lineup of MacBooks and iPads. Speaking of which, the latter is also expected to offer 5G connectivity for the first time, around one year after the iPhone introduces access to the next-gen networks.

It’s unclear at the moment if Apple has any plans for mini-LED displays on the Apple Watch or if the Cupertino giant will simply skip the technology and wait for micro-LED panels to become available.

Say goodbye to the iPhone XR's bigger bezels in 2020

Say goodbye to the iPhone XR's bigger bezels in 2020

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25 Comments

1. LawnBoy

Posts: 99; Member since: Feb 23, 2019

You mean Apple will use screen tech everyone else has been using for a decade? Say it ain't so. Apple like to lead from behind I guess.

2. Leo_MC

Posts: 6386; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Nobody uses mini/micro LED today; the best LCD tech that commercial companies have managed to use is QLED (which is kind of a mini-LED and it is, according to Samsung, already bettter than OLED).

6. User123456789

Posts: 400; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

QLED is LCD with Quantum DOT to increase colour gamut. The CrystalLED from Sony is microLED.

17. Leo_MC

Posts: 6386; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

I did not know about that, thanks for the info; it's a great road for LCD tech (I'm sure that dumb ass that made fun of LCD in 2019 is biting his fingers now), even though I see that the end products are only for industrial usage and/or dedicated to professionals (I can't even get a price quota for those wall panels - I'll contact the Sony supplier in my country for that). OLED is going to have a very short life.

9. oldskool50

Posts: 503; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

Samsung already makes and sells micro-LED displays and TV's. They showed them off at CES 2019. of course they are quite expensive too. Just like every other TV type was when first introduced. But you think Apple is gonna be the first with it? They already behind. LL. But I know, anything positive about Samsung is like sunlight to a vampire. According to Samsung QLED is better than OLED? Every review including DisplayMate has confirmed QLED is better than OLED for brightness and picture quality. It has the same downsides as LCD. Namely, a bulb that ruins the deep blacks you get with OLED and when the bulb goes the TV is is nothing more than a big paperweight. Because what it cost to repair, replacing is simply a better option.

11. midan

Posts: 2557; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

”Samsung already makes and sells micro-LED displays and TV's. They showed them off at CES 2019. of course they are quite expensive too. Just like every other TV type was when first introduced.” Really, where?!?!? ”When Can You Buy a MicroLED TV? MicroLED TVs aren’t currently on the market. The first consumer MicroLED television will certainly come from Samsung, the company that debuted the tech in 2018 and which has been working on it for the past few years. However, the Korean brand hasn’t offered any release date as yet. You might see a MicroLED TV by 2020 at the earliest, though 2021 or 2022 seem more likely.”

19. Leo_MC

Posts: 6386; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Just like Sony, they manufacture industrial LED walls dedicated to businesses; it will take them at least 1-2 years to build a consumer dedicated TV set.

18. Leo_MC

Posts: 6386; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Good job for Samsung - I always give credit where credit is due, dumb ass, and I criticize what it is to be criticized! Maybe you understand now why Apple couldn't care less about OLED until recently, when it was clear that microLED is not as close as they wanted it to be.

7. Vancetastic

Posts: 746; Member since: May 17, 2017

Do you have a list of phones from a decade ago using microLED?

3. Poptart2828

Posts: 308; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

The question is, how much higher will the price tag get. Some of my favorite smartphone makers will absorb the price and keep their phones as low as possible. That is not Apple.

4. chris2k5

Posts: 221; Member since: Nov 17, 2012

Stop pretending Android phone makers haven’t increased prices too. Samsung is selling phones for over $1k too. They are just as guilty as ripping off customers.

13. Poptart2828

Posts: 308; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

Some of my favorite smartphone makers. I didn't say Samsung or any other brand that does business in America. They all tend to rip consumers off with boring tech and look alikes.

20. Leo_MC

Posts: 6386; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

What (relevant) OEM doesn't do business in America?

5. User123456789

Posts: 400; Member since: Feb 22, 2019

Too soon for small displays. Other companies have microLED screens already but TV sized. Not going to happen before 2024

8. oldskool50

Posts: 503; Member since: Mar 29, 2019

I actually believe you have zero idea what causes burn-in. and the fact is, micro-LED is still LED. Burn-in has zero to do with the type of display. No one has ever complained about burn-in because usually no one keeps a phone long enough for it to happen, and considering how people use their phones, there is never one image constantly on the screen for days on end. The whole point of even mentioning it, when it has NEVER been a real issue is completely stupid.

10. joshuaswingle

Posts: 412; Member since: Apr 03, 2018

My recent OLED smartphones haven't experienced it, but my Galaxy S7 Edge was affected by the issue – after less than a year of use, I could constantly see the outline of Gboard and WhatsApp on the display.

16. kiko007

Posts: 7469; Member since: Feb 17, 2016

Ignore him. He's an old man yelling at the clouds when it comes to anything Apple related lol.

12. iloveapps

Posts: 408; Member since: Mar 21, 2019

This is nice to stay away from Samsung display. MLED is the future for apple.

14. Poptart2828

Posts: 308; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

At what cost passed on to the consumer and what time frame are we looking at?

21. Leo_MC

Posts: 6386; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Well, I've prepared €10k for my next Apple smartphone. Do you have problem with that?

23. Poptart2828

Posts: 308; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

I don't care what you are willing to pay. I care about my pockets.

25. Leo_MC

Posts: 6386; Member since: Dec 02, 2011

Every company passes the costs to its customers; that's common sense, if it wants to do business on the long term.

22. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1158; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

Odds are Samsung will be the go-to manufacturer for the smartphones displays and Apple will just come knocking. For both OLED and soon microLED there's no manufacturer more likely to produce high quality screens than Samsung.

15. DFranch

Posts: 511; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

Apple was the last manufacturer to use OLED screens, 1080P screens, and the last to use 2k screens. who thinks they will be the 1st to use microLED?

24. Poptart2828

Posts: 308; Member since: Jan 23, 2018

You do have a point.

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