Apple Partner Foxconn Reportedly Ramping MicroLED Investments For Future iPhones

iPhone XS
Will the next generation iPhone sport an even fancier display than the OLED panels that are found on the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max? It's a possibility. Apparently Foxconn, which assembles the bulk of Apple's iPhone products, is extending its investments into microLED technology through three of its subsidiaries, including Advanced Optoelectronic Technology (AOT), Epileds Technologies, and Marketech International.

All three have developed and are currently ramping up capacities of parts related to the production of microLED chip, as well as production equipment.

While a cursory glance at the name might suggest that microLED is a step backward from OLED, the opposite is actually true. Both technologies are capable of emitting light of certain, specific colors and can switch pixels on and off independently, resulting in better image quality than what is typically found on a backlit LCD display.

Where microLED takes the lead, however, is being able to hit higher brightness levels than OLED. It is also a more stable technology, and does not suffer from burn in—bright, static images won't get permanently burned into the display on a microLED panel, as is prone to happen with OLED, albeit under extreme circumstances.

This is not a theoretical technology, either. Samsung last year demonstrated a massive 146-inch microLED display called "The Wall" at the Consumer Electronics Show. So the technology exists and can be implemented, it's just comparatively new and expensive at the moment.

It was also reported last year that Apple was working on its own microLED displays for use in its Apple Watch, at least initially. Now a year later, Digitimes (via a Chinese-language Economic Daily News report) says Foxconn is involved. There are not a ton of details to go on, but one thing that stands out is that AOT has the capability of producing LED BLUs for 8K panels.

Whatever the case might be, it is probably optimistic to think we will see microLED-based iPhone models this year, or even next year. However, it seems clear that microLED displays will eventually find their way to the Apple's handsets.