Revealed: Why did Apple request Samsung Display to develop micro-OLED displays?

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On 11 July 2022, popular analyst Ming-Chi-Kuo confirmed the release of Apple’s second-generation AR/VR headsets in the first half of 2025. In his blog post, Kuo confirmed the release of the second version of the device in January 2025. To further back the apparent release, we have news on Apple seeking Samsung Display to develop micro-OLED displays for AR! 

 Why did Apple approach Samsung Display? 

Samsung Display has reportedly been asked by Apple and other firms, including Samsung itself, to step up the development of micro-OLED panels that could be used in Apple AR. The report further establishes that Apple has previously talked with several manufacturers about micro-OLED displays for ‘Apple Glass’.  

As reported by ‘The Elec’, Apple has now contacted Samsung Display to work on micro-OLED panel technology. This is presumably for its upcoming AR headsets. The reports further state that although Samsung Display had already been researching the technology, but only with a small group.  


Will Apple AR/VR Headsets come with micro-OLED displays? 

The Elec says this was because it had been believed that the micro-OLED would remain small and so have comparatively low profitability. However, currently, Apple, Meta, and Samsung itself have requested the company to further develop the technology.  

However, it is unclear when or exactly how Apple will deploy micro-OLED. The Elec reports that LG Display is developing a traditional OLED screen for the first iteration of Apple’s headgear and micro-OLED panels for the subsequent iteration. Sony is reportedly providing micro-OLED screens for Apple’s first headset at the same time, though. 

The stages of development for Sony, LG Display, and Samsung Display look to be different. The panels for Apple’s second headset, which is currently anticipated to launch in 2025, appear to be in the hands of all three, though. 

What is Micro-OLED?

In its simplest form, a microdisplay is a very small display that measures 0.75 to 1 inch from corner to corner. OLED microdisplays can be produced in extremely small sizes by employing circuits on a silicon backplane to control the individual pixels. These circuits’ very small size makes it possible to produce images with incredibly high resolution. The iPhone 12 has a resolution of 460 pixels per inch, for instance (PPI).

What is the benefit of micro-OLED? 

Micro OLED has the advantage of delivering high-resolution and high-efficiency performance in a thin package. Thus, it is assumed that the requests are connected to the use of micro-OLED in upcoming AR headsets. The Elec also thinks that micro-OLED will be used in Apple’s first headset, which is currently anticipated to debut in 2023. 

Why is micro-OLED not mainstream yet? 

When we swiftly move our eyes over a small image (like a microdisplay), a peculiar phenomenon in our brain makes us believe it is fuzzy even though it is perfectly clear. This might lead to headaches, discomfort, and difficulties understanding what we are seeing. 

Researchers have proposed an intriguing remedy to combat this phenomenon—using flash pictures less frequently. According to them, if you keep the images moving at an average speed of 60 Hz but only display them for a small portion of the time they are typically displayed, our brains will fill in the ‘gaps’ where we are not seeing anything and prevent the appearance of a blur. Herein lies the difficulty—even with a 1/10 reduction in length, the image still requires 10x the brightness to be viewed equally. 

Additionally, a lot of VR and AR applications are utilized during the day, sometimes outside in the sun. High brightness is a requirement for the effective adoption of microdisplay technology, even after taking into account the additional brightness required for compressed images. 

The brightest OLED microdisplay technologies currently available on the market have a brightness of fewer than 1,000 nits (candela/m2). On the other hand, the majority of real-world applications require a brightness of about 5,000 nits. Therefore, the OLED microdisplay will need to significantly boost its brightness in order to compete with other technologies. 

Anwesha Mishra

Anwesha has been a creative writer for a while. Currently, on her pursuit of tech writing, she is diving into the realms of technology to produce better content on the forever-changing world of technology. In her free time, you’ll find her humming tunes of her favourite shows or reading a book.

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