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Report: Apple Ends Effort to Develop microLED Screens for Smartwatches

Apple watch

Apple reportedly discontinued its in-house project to develop microLED screens for its smartwatches.

The project, codenamed T159, was initiated seven years ago and aimed to create brighter and more vibrant visuals using microLED technology. However, the high cost and complexity of the project led to its termination, Bloomberg reported Friday (March 22), citing unnamed sources.

Apple did not immediately reply to PYMNTS’ request for comment.

MicroLED technology, which uses millions of microscopic light-emitting diodes, offers several advantages over the current OLED screens, including lower power consumption, more accurate color reproduction and the ability to create thinner devices, according to the report.

However, manufacturing microLED screens in sufficient quantities proved challenging due to the requirement of cutting-edge technology and a complex LED transfer process, the report said.

Apple’s decision to halt the project has resulted in the reorganization of the company’s display engineering teams and the elimination of several dozen roles in the United States and Asia, per the report.

The microLED project was part of Apple’s broader strategy to design more of its technology in-house, according to the report. While Apple already customizes its displays, these designs are based on partnerships with companies like LG Display and Samsung SDI.

Despite the setback, Apple remains interested in microLED technology for future projects, the report said. The company is exploring potential new suppliers and processes that could make microLED a reality in its devices, although this is not expected to happen shortly.

For now, Apple continues to rely on OLED technology for its smartwatches, considered the best current solution for the company’s needs, per the report.

The report comes about a month after Apple told employees that it is canceling its effort to build an electric car. The decade-long, multibillion-dollar effort aimed to develop a fully autonomous electric vehicle with advanced features.

The project faced changes in leadership and strategy over the years and was wound down amid concerns about profitability and the substantial investment required.

Apple has scrapped products before, having shelved its plans to make a TV in 2015.