The Micro LED Apple Watch may be delayed, but it could be worth the wait

Apple Watch heart rate monitor
(Image credit: Future)

We’re at the point in the Apple Watch’s life cycle now where it’s hard to find new things to put in upcoming models. Think about it - the Apple Watch can tell you when you’ve fallen, crashed your car, your heart rate is low, and goodness knows what else. At this point, the device on your wrist might be smarter than you are, at least in my case.

Without meaning to sound like the commercials, we’ve really reached a point of maturity where the next big change feels like it needs to be pretty staggering to shake things up - a little like when the iPhone X ditched the home button, AirPods cut the cable, or Mac moved to Apple Silicon.

While the Apple Watch X is expected this year, it’s the Micro LED Apple Watch I’m hoping for, even if those timelines don’t quite sync up. Here’s why.

Apple Watch emergency features

(Image credit: Matt Evans)

The more things change, the more they display the same

The Apple Watch has seen plenty of changes (we’ve got a whole retrospective for you to check out) but some things remained the same over the last nine mainline entries, two Ultra models, and SE variants - the OLED display.

There’s a good reason for that, of course. For one, it helps with battery life. Because OLED offers deep blacks, it doesn’t have to illuminate the entire panel, especially with so much of watchOS being set against a black background. It also allows for better contrast, which is ideal when you want your UI to be legible at a glance of the wrist.

Still, it’s never a bad time to look to the future, and like the “man walking down the street looking at another woman” meme, Apple is seemingly set on dumping OLED and becoming very chummy with MicroLED for an upcoming Apple Watch Ultra version.

That plan has hit some roadblocks, and while it's seemingly years away from the company making the shift (and even longer until non-Ultra models do so), there are plenty of reasons to be excited.

TORRAS 3-in-1 Charging Station with MagSafe Charger Stand

(Image credit: Karen S. Freeman / Future)

Micro but mighty

The MicroLED display, while drastically more expensive than OLED panels at the time of writing, would offer the kind of clarity that makes UI elements appear as if they’re floating, or painted, on the screen.

Given Apple stepped up the brightness of last year’s Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models, it’s perhaps the next logical step to retina-searingly colorful watchOS icons.

Interestingly, microLED displays are also reported to be more durable than their OLED counterparts, which may help prevent those awkward doorknob-clattering screen smashes and scratches that we’ve all feared before we look down at our wrists.

Apple Watch Ultra underwater

(Image credit: Shutterstock / Hadrian)

Power to the pixels

Those of you who have read my Apple Watch coverage will know that I love mine, and it may have saved my life, but I’d be remiss not to mention battery life.

It remains the Apple Watch’s Achilles heel, and I felt certain it’d be addressed in the Series 9. The S9 chip, the relatively modest feature updates, the same design - I felt sure Apple was going to announce better battery life.

That didn’t happen, and if it’s not going to happen with a fresh chip using the same external design (i.e. not shrinking down), it may not happen until the microLED Apple Watch debuts.

That pains me as someone who literally wouldn’t have known about a heart condition if my Apple Watch Ultra didn’t have the battery life to last three days, meaning I’m personally invested in Apple pushing the power draw further here.

A microLED Apple Watch might do just that, reducing the demands of the battery and potentially eking out more time between charges. It’s going to take some time to get as far as the week of battery offered by the cheaper, but less ambitious, Fitbit Inspire, but it’s a start.

What do you want next from the Apple Watch, or are you pretty pleased with where it’s at right now? Let me know in the comments.

Lloyd Coombes

Lloyd Coombes is a freelance writer with a specialism in Apple tech. From his first, hand-me-down iMac, he’s been working with Apple products for over a decade, and while he loves his iPhone and Mac, the iPad will always have his heart for reasons he still can’t quite fathom.

Since moving from blogging to writing professionally, Lloyd’s work can be found at TechRadar, Macworld, TechAdvisor and plenty more.

He’s also the Editor in Chief at, and on the rare occasion he’s not writing you’ll find him spending time with his son, or working hard at the gym (while wearing an Apple Watch, naturally). You can find him on Twitter @lloydcoombes.