With a growing demand for the latest test, many manufacturers of high quality components have faced shortages in either supply or yield. With just a few global manufacturers pumping out the most cutting edge chips and screens, it's a scramble for companies to get what they can — and get it fast.
So how do you make sure you're ahead of the pack when it comes to procuring a healthy supply of the components you need? Well, If you're Apple, you get knee-deep in the manufacturing process and start doing things yourself.
It's no fabrication
A recent report by Nikkei Asia has revealed Apple's plans to mass-produce key components for future Apple Watch and iPhone devices, namely micro-LED screens.
Micro-LED panels are more energy efficient and more versatile than that of OLED displays due to its thinner and more flexible surfaces — making them key components in curved and foldable devices.
With foldable devices becoming more common-place by the year, Apple may be looking ahead to securing a steady supply of the panels, while also cutting out its reliance on Samsung Display, a subsidiary of smartphone, tablet, and laptop competitor Samsung, who currently manufactures displays for various Apple products.
This step into a manufacturing realm won't come easy for Apple, and is a new frontier for a company that has a long-history of passing the duties of production on to others. However, Apple have reportedly spent at least $1 billion on R&D and of micro-LED tech over the last decade — something they will no doubt be hoping eases the transition.
Multiple sources involved with the project have claimed that the manufacturing will be undertaken at Apple's R&D facilities in the Longtan District of Taoyan. Here, Apple will seek to begin the difficult process of fabricating micro-LED chips directly onto wafers in order to secure its supply of these next-gen displays.
Reportedly, Apple's micro-LED technology is still in the sampling process, seeking for methods to reliably improve yield before entering full production. But this is a long term goal for Apple and the process could take some time to come to fruition.
As such, should things go as planned for the Cupertino-based tech giants, the first Apple devices to use its self-made micro-LED displays could appear in 2025 — with a likely starting point being the Apple Watch or Apple Watch Ultra.
Apple's ultimate goal is to feature its micro-LED screens on iPhone devices, as the smartphones display has historically been the most expensive to procure during development. However, with micro-LED tech being so useful for foldable phones, Apple could potentially be giving thought to entering the foldable market itself.
We'll have to wait to hear more as Apple's manufacturing plans unfold, but by all accounts Apple appears to already be in the thick of it when it comes to securing a steady supply-line of displays to feature in a number of Apple devices in an attempt to avoid ongoing supply troubles they've recently encountered with its M-Series chips.
Check back with Laptop Mag regularly for the latest updates on Apple's endeavours and the latest in iPhone, iPad, and MacBook news.