Waiting for the microLED Apple Watch? You may have to wait a little longer

Apple was expected to bring microLED to the Apple Watch Ultra imminently, but a new report says Apple's plans have changed

Apple Watch Ultra Night Mode
(Image credit: Apple)

It looks like Apple's plans to bring microLED display technology to the Apple Watch have changed. Multiple rumours predicted a move to microLED for the late-2024 Apple Watch Ultra, but many industry watchers now say that goal was too ambitious. Apple has now apparently moved the planned launch back to 2025.

It's important to note that long-term Apple predictions are not the most reliable things: Apple can and does change its plans, sometimes for financial reasons and sometimes because its initial timescales were never carved in stone. Display analyst Ross Young recently said that the microLED Apple Watch Ultra is now on the 2025 release slate, not the 2024 one, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman now agrees with that.

Why is the Apple Watch getting microLED?

Apple reportedly plans to move all its smaller devices to microLED displays, starting with its most expensive wearable. That's because the tech is still in its relatively early stages and as a result it's going to be costly for a while yet.

MicroLED LEDs are roughly 1/100th the size of traditional LEDs, and they offer OLED-style contrast with extreme brightness – something particularly useful for a watch designed to be used in the great outdoors. They also appear to be immune from the screen burn that can affect OLED, and they're much more energy efficient too. With wearables, that efficiency is even more important than it is in the best phones: you can't exactly stick a massive battery in a smartwatch without giving the wearer an arm like a gorilla.

Apple's starting small with this tech, but the goal is to put it in everything – even Macs. But in the next few years those devices are moving to OLED, not microLED, and it'll be a relatively long time before we see this cutting-edge display technology make its way into your MacBook.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).