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Apple released its first rugged Watch Ultra edition last fall and it is the most expensive Apple wearable this side of the upcoming AR/VR headset, if it can be called that at all. The Apple Watch Ultra starts from the whopping $799, but its successor may cost a grand.

According to the display industry analysts from DSCC, the new microLED display of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 will cost five times more to make than its current OLED display with 1000 nits of peak brightness made by LG.
This would force Apple to raise the Watch Ultra 2 price in order to maintain its profit margins as the panel is one of the most expensive components in the timepiece. To do that, however, the microLED screen has to show tangible advantages before the current OLED crop and that is not entirely certain, reports DSCC.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 display specs

The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is expected to arrive with a larger, 2.1-inch display compared to the 1.9-inch screen of the OG Watch Ultra that it is currently boasting. The enlarged screen will offer 325 PPI pixel density, slightly lower than the 338 PPI on the OG Watch Ultra, indicating that it will likely keep the same screen resolution that is tailored for Apple’s Watch apps.

The backplane would still reportedly be made by LG and be either of the frugal LTPO, or the LTPS variety. The problem with using a microLED display on anything larger than an Apple Watch device with its comparatively smaller size and low resolution, is that it would be prohibitively expensive to employ at larger diagonals.

That is why DSCC warns that, contrary to some rumors, we may not see an iPhone with microLED screen any time soon. Perhaps never, as DSCC also struggles to find any advantages that stem from using a microLED display technology before and OLED panel.

Granted, on theory the microLED screen should be brighter and longer lasting with better power efficiency. In reality, however, in these criteria the first generation of microLED screens would be on par with the latest improvements in OLED display technology, such as dual-stack designs and enhanced blue diode materials.

Apple Watch Ultra 2 release date

In fact, the DSCC report jibes with recent musings out of Korea which list exactly the same claim – that the microLED Watch Ultra display will be at least twice more expensive than the current OLED panel that Apple currently uses – while also acknowledging that its brightness and efficiency have no chance to be twice as good as those on Apple’s OG rugged timepiece.

That is why, perhaps, Apple may be pushing the Watch Ultra 2 release date to 2025 instead of launching it next year as rumored. The DSCC supply chain checks indicate LG’s backplane conveyor belts won’t be operational for mass Watch Ultra 2 microLED display production before the second half of 2024, which would make a 2025 launch the more realistic scenario. 

This way, Apple will have plenty of time to perfect the microLED technology for the 2.1-inch Watch Ultra 2 panel so that it can justify an eventual higher price with some tangible advantages before using an OLED screen.

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