Apple Watch Ultra might not get major screen upgrade until 2027, new leaks suggest

Apple Watch Ultra beside Apple Watch Ultra 2
The Apple Watch Ultra 2 (right) is physically almost identical to its predecesssor (Image credit: Future)
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In early May 2024, Apple supply chain analyst Ming-Chi Kuo announced that he believes the Apple Watch Ultra 3 will feature "almost no" hardware upgrades, with no microLED screen or new biometric sensors expected. However, he does expect Apple to still go ahead and release a new device in September, even without significant changes.

It might be years before the Apple Watch Ultra gets a major screen update according to new leaks, which suggest that the watch's long-awaited MicroLED display has been delayed until at least 2027. As Notebookcheck explains, the claims come from Korean media outlet The Elec, which cites "multiple industry officials".

MicroLED displays have a lot of advantages over the AMOLED tech used by the Apple Watch Ultra. They offer brighter and more vivid colors (potentially even better than the Apple Watch Ultra 2), improved contrast, and better viewing angles. MicroLED tech is also more efficient, which could help extend the battery life of a future Apple Watch Ultra beyond 36 hours in typical use – the device's biggest limitation compared to adventure watches from rivals like Garmin and Coros.

Rumors of a MicroLED-equipped Apple Watch Ultra have been circulating for some time. In spring last year, Bloomberg's resident Apple expert Mark Gurman reported that the tech could come to the Apple Watch Ultra in 2025 or 2026, with MicroLED-equipped phones and laptops following shortly after. Now, however, it seems that date may be pushed back even further.

The MicroLED display for the Apple Watch Ultra is said to have been in production for over six years, and is custom-designed by the company itself, but is proving much more expensive to build than anticipated. According to The Elec, each MicroLED display could cost four times the price of an OLED screen ($150 compared to $38).

The MicroLED panel is rumored to be slightly larger (2.12in compared to 1.93in for the Apple Watch Ultra and Ultra 2), and it's possible that Apple may simply switch to a larger OLED until the new tech is ready. We won't know for certain until the company's product showcase in September, when we'll learn what's coming from the next generation device.

Cat Ellis

Cat is Homes Editor at TechRadar and former editor of Advnture. She's been a journalist for 15 years, and cut her teeth on magazines before moving online. She helps readers choose the right tech for their home, get the best deals, and do more with their new devices.