The appearance of the next generation Apple Watch Ultra smartwatch with new MicroLED displays is unlikely to be expected in 2026, reports the South Korean publication The Elec. The company faces a high level of defects when producing such displays, which makes an already expensive technology even more expensive.
Last year, analysts at TrendForce predicted that the next-generation Apple Watch Ultra could be introduced in 2026. This was contrary to predictions from other sources, which were confident that the device would hit the market in 2025. However, according to the South Korean publication The Elec, problems associated with the high cost of producing MicroLED screens and the volume of usable products are key factors preventing Apple from starting mass production of MicroLED panels for the new Apple Watch Ultra. The company may even postpone the launch of new smartwatches to later than 2026, the publication writes.
According to various sources, Apple has been developing new MicroLED display technology for almost a decade. These advanced displays will provide increased brightness, better color reproduction, wider dynamic range, better viewing angles and energy efficiency, and the image on these screens will appear as if it was “painted” on top of the protective glass that will be installed on these panels.
The current model of the Apple Watch Ultra smart watch is equipped with a 1.93-inch diagonal screen. In turn, the use of a 2.12-inch MicroLED screen is predicted for the new generation of watches. The problem is that the cost of producing such a high-pixel-density screen is prohibitive for a device that currently sells for $799. It is noted that the estimated production cost of a 2.12-inch MicroLED screen is $150, which is four times more expensive than the cost of producing an OLED screen ($38). At such prices for the production of just one screen, the final cost of the device may be significantly higher than $1000.
For comparison, the production of 6.1-inch and 6.7-inch screens for iPhone 15 smartphones costs $80 and $120, respectively. Taking into account current prices, the cost of the Apple Watch Ultra with a MicroLED screen will be significantly higher than that of the latest iPhone smartphones. According to the South Korean publication, taking into account all these factors, the possible release of the Apple Watch Ultra smartwatch with a MicroLED screen even in 2027 seems too optimistic a forecast.
It is expected that in the long term, Apple will replace all currently used LCD, OLED and Mini-LED panels with MicroLED screens in its devices. New screens will be received not only by the Apple Watch, but also by iPhone smartphones, iPad tablets, Mac computers and the Vision Pro mixed reality headset. And one of the reasons why Apple is developing its own screen technology is that the company wants to reduce its dependence on Samsung as a panel supplier.