To reduce manufacturing costs, Apple is turning to Chinese display suppliers for future versions of its Vision Pro headset.
The Apple Vision Pro will launch in the U.S. in early 2024 starting at $3,499. To have any chance of reaching consumers, Apple will need to lower the price of future headsets. To that end, Apple is reportedly already working on a cheaper model.
The high-resolution OLED microdisplays are the most expensive component of Apple Vision, according to supply chain analysts. Their cost is estimated to be around $450. Sony is currently Apple’s only OLED microdisplay supplier and is reportedly refusing to increase production capacity.
Sony’s monopoly and limited production are likely to drive up display prices. As a result, Apple is currently looking for other manufacturers capable of producing OLED microdisplays in high volume and quality.
Apple is on the lookout for new partners in China
OLED microdisplays are manufactured on silicon wafers, allowing them to be very small and achieve extremely high pixel densities. Because it is unclear how large the demand for OLED microdisplays will be in the future, investment in high production capacities has been slow. Samsung and LG, for example, have only just begun to build large production facilities.
According to a new report from The Information, Apple is currently testing displays from Chinese display manufacturers BOE and SeeYa, which have been investing in the production of OLED microdisplays for some time with the help of the Chinese government. The Information cites two people familiar with the matter.
It is currently unclear whether the displays will meet Apple’s high-quality standards. According to the report, the displays could be used in a successor to the Vision Pro and a cheaper headset codenamed N109.
For Apple, a deal with BOE and SeeYa would have several advantages: With Sony no longer the only OLED microdisplay supplier, Apple could likely negotiate better prices. In addition, displays made in China would be cheaper than those made in other countries.