With MicroLED, an Apple Watch could be a gateway drug for pricer iPhones

Apple's manufacturing partners are gearing up for MicroLED production if news from Taiwan proves to be entirely accurate. According to sources close to the deal, Taiwan's Ministry of Science and Technology approved a PlayNitride application for a brand new $17-million USD (NT$500 million) manufacturing plant at Hsinchu Science Park. This is one of a couple companies rumored to be in talks with Apple for future MicroLED display panel production on devices of several sorts.

In addition to PlayNitride, Apple was rumored to speak with TSMC to sample MicroLED panels for eventual mass production. Previous tips concentrated on wearable displays due to their advanced need for such sharp, low-power, and low-latency display technology. Also, talking about Apple producing a new sort of device is exciting, so any whisper is more likely jumped upon than most other news bits.

Word of preliminary talks between PlayNitride and Apple for MicroLED panels comes from Digitimes, while price points for PlayNitride's products come from MicroLED Info. There, they suggest that "the cost for a single smartphone panel could reach about $300." At that price, we're talking just under 3x the estimated cost (IHS) of the display for the iPhone X.


We're already at $1,000 for one smartphone – we've reached that point. It's not even as if we're JUST at that point, we've exceeded it by quite a bit. Have a peek at our article The $2,000 iPhone is coming (by Nate) to see how we're already up at double the base price. While I think we're definitely headed toward more expensive smartphones, I don't think a ramp-up from $110 for the display part to $300 is going to fly – not if Apple has to charge enough for that and the rest of the parts to make a profit.

As such, I believe MicroLED displays will appear elsewhere first. Chop that display size into multiple parts and you've got the display for the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch is a perfect place for Apple to release premium materials and parts. Apple Watch buyers have proven that a watch is an item they're willing to spend thousands of dollars on – both on an Apple Watch and on watches not made by Apple. So start here with the premium display, get the world used to the idea that they're going to wand a MicroLED display and that they're going to have to pay for it, and move on down the line.