Apple's best smartwatch, the Apple Watch Ultra, currently has an OLED display – and it's a very good one, with a specially designed face for clearer reading in the dark. But microLED technology is better still, and it appears that Apple is planning it for next year's model.
According to display analyst Ross Young, the Apple Watch Ultra will be given microLED in 2025. He's said this previously, and this time he's naming sources: Osram, a key Apple supplier. In its most recent earnings call Osram said that "we currently expect to start reporting relevant revenues from our microLED technology in 2025" and made it clear that the firm is expecting to be doing significant volumes from that year onwards.
Why microLED will make the Apple Watch even more Ultra
Young isn't the only pundit predicting microLED, which is usually a sign that the rumour has legs. But others had suggested a 2024 launch rather than 2025. However, if Osram is indeed the preferred supplier for the Apple Watch Ultra then the earnings call makes it clear that it's not expecting any microLED money this year.
If the microLED watch is indeed planned for 2025, that means Apple is still in the fairly early stages of product development – and that means its plans could well change. However, the timescale does fit with Apple's usual product strategy, which is often described as tick/tock: the tick is a major new version and the tock, a year later, is a minor update. Adding microLED is definitely a tick.
Whatever the timescale, it's clearly a case of "when?" rather than "if" for a microLED Apple Watch. That's because microLED doesn't have the same burn-in issues as OLED, and it delivers extremely accurate colour along with even better contrast, wider viewing angles and lower energy demands too. Those benefits make microLED really well suited to wearables in general and watches in particular.