Apple to begin making in-house screens in 2024 in blow to Samsung, LG

LOS ANGELES – Apple is planning to start using its own custom displays in mobile devices as early as 2024, in an effort to reduce its reliance on technology partners like Samsung and LG and bring more components in-house.

The company aims to begin by swopping out the display in the highest-end Apple Watches by the end of next year, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

The screens upgrade the current Oled – organic light-emitting diode – standard to a technology called microLED, and Apple plans to eventually bring the displays to other devices, including the iPhone.

The changes are part of a sweeping effort to replace Apple supplies with home-grown parts, an undertaking that will give the company more control over the design and capabilities of its products.

The tech giant has dropped Intel chips in its Mac computers in favour of in-house designs and plans to do the same with the key wireless components in its iPhones.

Apple’s screen switch has been under way for years.

The move will deal a blow to Samsung Display and LG Display, the two main suppliers of the watch screens.

LG Display shares fell as much as 2.2 per cent on Wednesday after Bloomberg reported the news.

Shares of Samsung Electronics, meanwhile, pared most of its gains during morning trading in Seoul.

Apple has begun testing the microLED displays on an update to the Apple Watch Ultra, its new high-end sports watch.

Compared with current Apple Watches, the next-generation displays are designed to offer brighter, more vibrant colours and the ability to be better seen at an angle.

The displays make content appear like it is painted on top of the glass, according to people who have seen them.

The microLED displays will be Apple’s first screens designed and developed entirely in-house.

The company currently sources screens from a range of manufacturers, including Japan Display, Sharp and BOE Technology Group, in addition to Samsung and LG.

Apple accounts for 36 per cent of LG Display’s revenue, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Samsung, which competes with Apple in the smartphone market in addition to serving as a supplier, gets about 6.6 per cent of its sales from the iPhone maker.

The work, codenamed T159, ramped up around 2018 and Apple had set a goal to begin switching to microLED screens as early as 2020, Bloomberg reported at the time.

But the project languished due to high costs and technical challenges, people involved in the work said.

Apple initially aimed to include the technology in large displays, but those concerns led it to focus instead on its watch – whose screens measure about 50mm – as its first mobile device with the capabilities.

Apple’s 2024 target could potentially move until 2025, some people involved in the project said.

The company also could offer a limited supply of the new devices to get the transition started.

Though Apple has designed the new displays and devised their manufacturing process, it will likely rely on an outside supplier to handle mass production.

Apple has devoted several billion dollars so far to the effort, which is considered internally to be one of the company’s most critical projects – alongside its attempts to develop an electric car, a mixed-reality headset and key health features for its watches.

The company spent about US$26 billion (S$34.6 billion) on research and development in fiscal 2022. BLOOMBERG

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