Next-Gen Wearables Await: Apple Postpones MicroLED Watch Ultra 2

In 2023, Apple launched the Apple Watch Ultra 2, a wearable smart device that not only introduces a suite of new features to its users but also boasts upgrades in both its processor and display from its predecessor, garnering widespread acclaim upon its release. We have previously reported on Apple’s development of a new Apple Watch Ultra model equipped with a MicroLED screen. However, according to the latest updates from thelec, the release of this new device has been postponed by Apple due to supply chain constraints.

Recently, thelec released a report stating that Apple has not yet finalized the supply chain arrangements for manufacturing MicroLED screens for the new Apple Watch Ultra, projecting the earliest release for this model to be in 2026. The report also highlighted that Apple’s greatest challenge currently lies in the manufacturing costs of MicroLED, including production yield rates. Previous forecasts by various agencies have positioned the new Apple Watch Ultra in the $800-$1200 professional smartwatch market, hence the MicroLED screens for the new model will utilize specifications such as Low-Temperature Polycrystalline Oxide (LTPO) and Thin-Film Transistor (TFT). Simulation calculations estimate the manufacturing cost of the MicroLED screen for the new Apple Watch Ultra at $150, approximately four times the cost of the OLED screens used in the current Apple Watch Ultra models ($38). Given Apple’s historical pricing strategies, with a screen cost of $150, the market retail price of the product is expected to be around $1500. Furthermore, the $150 production cost exceeds that of the 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch iPhone OLED screens ($80-$120), suggesting that the new Apple Watch Ultra’s price could surpass that of iPhones released in the same period.

For the past decade, Apple has been exploring MicroLED screen technology, which is likely the future direction for Apple Watch displays. While the current Apple Watch Ultra features a 1.93-inch OLED display that boasts higher brightness levels than most smartphones, it carries a certain risk of screen burn-in. MicroLED screens, made from inorganic materials, offer significant advantages over OLED screens in terms of lifespan.