The MicroLED Apple Watch Ultra slips further away from reality as another supplier gets axed

Apple Watch Ultra running watchOS 10
(Image credit: Future)

Last year's Apple Watch Ultra 2 wasn't a particularly big upgrade. In fact, hardly anything changed on the best Apple Watch. This was expected, with the first-gen device only a year old, but it left Apple Watch us all wanting more. Rumors about a Gen 3 Apple Watch Ultra suggest the smartwatch will come with a MicroLED display, which would mark a huge evolution for the product. But it seems the much-anticipated device is teetering on the edge of the abyss.

According to display analyst Ross Young, Apple's quest for a brighter, more vibrant Apple Watch with MicroLED technology has hit a significant snag. This comes after a recent SEC filing by Kulicke & Soffa, a manufacturing equipment company, which revealed the cancellation of a mysterious "Project W" by one of its "strategic customers."

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While unconfirmed, this "Project W" is believed to be the codename for the MicroLED Apple Watch Ultra. Kulicke & Soffa had been gearing up to assist in the development and future mass production of advanced display technologies. But with this unnamed strategic customer pulling the plug, Kulicke & Soffa -- and its "LED die transfer" system -- is potentially incurring up to $130 million in charges as they cease operations related to the project.

This isn't an isolated incident, either. Earlier this year, AMS-Osram, another Apple supplier, announced a reevaluation of its MicroLED strategy following the cancellation of a "cornerstone project," also believed to be tied to the microLED Apple Watch initiative.

Is this goodbye to the MicroLED Apple Watch Ultra?

With two major suppliers out of the picture, the project faces an unlikely future. Industry insiders and analysts, including the aforementioned Ross Young and the prolific Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, seem to agree that Apple may have put the MicroLED Apple Watch project on ice. But there's a plot twist: Sources like Bloomberg's Mark Gurman and DigiTimes suggest Apple might be on the hunt for alternative suppliers, refusing to let the dream die just yet.

What does this mean for the future of the Apple Watch Ultra and its fancy MicroLED display? Well, if you were holding your breath for the upgraded device on your wrist, you might want to exhale. The MicroLED Apple Watch Ultra, with its promises of dazzling displays, seems to be several years away from becoming a reality. If it ever does.

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Connor Jewiss

Connor is a technology writer and editor, with a byline on multiple platforms. He has been writing for around seven years now across the web and in print too. Connor has experience on most major platforms, though does hold a place in his heart for macOS, iOS/iPadOS, electric vehicles, and smartphone tech.