On Monday, Patently published a report titled “Apple Display Vendors Sony, LG and Samsung Working on OLEDos and LEDos for Apple’s Future Mixed Reality Headsets.” The report notes that OLEDoS is expected to be used in Apple’s first-generation mixed reality headset, which will debut in 2023. Sony and LG will be Apple’s first suppliers of next-generation displays, with Samsung possibly joining them.
On Friday, Counterpoint published a report on OLEDoS, which they believed to be a technological breakthrough for AR/VR devices. That would almost explain Apple’s delay in debuting its first-generation mixed reality headset. Such a breakthrough will allow Apple’s future headset to stand out in the market over competing headsets right out of the gate and justify its premium price.
Today, Meta’s Oculus Quest 2 has displays with a 72Hz refresh rate, which is even lower than the 120Hz on some smartphones. A low refresh rate can cause dizziness after even a short time, and a low-resolution display is known to cause eye strain, something Apple wanted to avoid with its first-generation device. In contrast, Apple’s first mixed reality headset will offer displays with small pixel sizes, high refresh rates and high resolutions.
OLED smartphones have an average resolution of 550 pixels per inch, but AR/VR devices require around 3500 pixels per inch because they have displays that are close to the eyes. Sony and LG, Apple’s suppliers for this next-generation display, have tables below explaining OLED vs. OLEDoS displays.
Click on image below to enlarge)
Counterpoint. Researcher Yeri Yoon states that “OLEDoS (OLED on Silicon) is a display panel that is typically less than 1 inch diagonal and meets the 3000-4000 pixels per inch resolution criteria for AR/VR device displays. Existing OLED displays use Low-Temperature-Poly-Silicon (LTPS) or oxide TFT based on glass substrates. But OLEDoS uses CMOS substrates based on silicon wafers. Using silicon substrates, it is possible to reproduce ultrafine circuit structures commonly used in semiconductor processes, which in turn lead to ultra-high-resolution OLED displays when organically deposited.
OLEDoS features high efficiency, high brightness, infinite contrast, fast response, and long LED lifetime compared to OLED. Since the size is less than 1 inch, the user does not see the panel directly, but sees a magnified image through an optical lens. When used on AR/VR equipment, it displays high resolution in a small, lightweight, portable device.
It is expected that two OLEDoS displays will be installed inside the first Apple headset, and the first supplier this time will be Sony. LG Display is expected to supply generic OLEDs that are applied to external indicators. However, in the long term, Apple is expected to choose LG Display as its OLEDoS vendor over Sony. While Sony’s technology is a bit ahead of the curve right now, the company has its own games console, making it a potential rival to Apple in the XR market, where having a killer app is key. When Apple enters the XR market, it is expected to grow at a rapid pace, while Samsung Display is expected to quickly catch up with main rival LG. Once again, we could see a fierce race between SDC and LGD in the XR market.
Apple appears to be on track to be one of the first industry players to implement OLEDoS. Cost structure and availability will likely force most competitors to adopt these advanced displays sometime in 2025-2026. Until then, Apple may switch to LEDos displays, which LG is currently developing for Apple and are rumored to target resolutions in the 6,000 to 7,000 dpi range, or dual OLEDoS.