What Is Micro-OLED? Apple Vision Pro’s Display Explained

At WWDC 2023, Apple introduced the Imaginative and prescient Professional, an AR/VR headset that provides a formidable quantity of know-how, and an equally imposing $3,499 price ticket. One of many issues that helps the Imaginative and prescient Professional stand out from cheaper merchandise from Valve and Meta is the usage of a brand new kind of show referred to as micro-OLED. Greater than only a rebranding by the advertising and marketing consultants at Apple, micro-OLED is a variation on the display know-how that is turn into a staple of finest TV lists over the previous couple of years. 

Micro-OLED’s essential distinction from “conventional” OLED is true within the title. That includes far smaller pixels, micro-OLED has the potential for a lot, a lot greater resolutions than conventional OLED: suppose 4K TV resolutions on chips the dimensions of postage stamps. Till lately, the know-how has been utilized in issues like digital viewfinders in cameras, however the newest variations are bigger and even greater decision, making them good for AR and VR headsets.

Here is an in-depth take a look at this tech and the place it may very well be used sooner or later. 

What’s OLED?

OLED stands for natural light-emitting diode. The time period “natural” means the chemical compounds that assist the OLED create mild incorporate the ingredient carbon. The particular chemical compounds past that do not matter a lot, no less than to us finish customers, however suffice it to say after they’re equipped with a little bit of vitality, they create mild.

Learn extra: What Is OLED and What Can It Do for Your TV?

A chart showing the basic differences between OLED microdisplays and traditional OLED displays.

The essential variations between micro-OLED and “conventional” OLED.


The good thing about OLED on the whole is that it creates its personal mild. So in contrast to LED LCD TVs, which at present make up the remainder of the TV market, every pixel may be turned on and off. When off, they emit no mild. You may’t make an LED LCD pixel completely darkish except you flip off the backlight altogether, and this implies OLED’s distinction ratio, or the distinction between the brightest and darkest a part of a picture, is principally infinite compared.

OLED TVs, nearly all manufactured by LG, have been in the marketplace for a number of years. In the meantime, Samsung Show has lately launched OLED TVs that additionally function quantum dots (QD-OLED), which provide even greater brightness and probably higher colour. These QD-OLEDs are offered by Samsung, Sony, and, in pc monitor type, Alienware.

Micro-OLED, aka OLED on Silicon

A cutaway diagram of a micro-OLED display.

The layers of a micro-OLED show.

Shanghai College

Micro-OLED, often known as OLEDoS and OLED microdisplays, is likely one of the uncommon circumstances the place the tech is strictly because it sounds: tiny OLED “micro” shows. On this case, not solely are the pixels themselves smaller, however the whole “panels” are smaller. That is potential because of developments in manufacturing, together with mounting the display-making segments in every pixel on to a silicone chip. This permits pixels to be a lot, a lot smaller.  

Two Sony micro-OLED displays. They look like computer chips.

Two Sony micro-OLED shows. They appear like pc chips as a result of that is what they’re based mostly on.


If we check out Apple’s claims, we will estimate how small these pixels actually are. Firstly, Apple says the dual shows within the Imaginative and prescient Professional embrace “Extra pixels than a 4K TV. For every eye” or “23 million pixels.” A 4K TV is 3,840×2,160, or 8,294,400 pixels, so that ought to equate to round 11,500,000 pixels per eye for the Apple screens. 

Subsequent, Apple partnered with Sony (or possibly TSMC) to create these micro-OLED shows and they’re roughly 1 inch in measurement. To calculate the dimensions of every pixel I will use 32-inch 4K TVs as a comparability, and these boast about 138 pixels per inch. We do not know the side ratio of the chips within the Imaginative and prescient Professional, but when they seem to be a sq. 3,400×3,400-pixel decision that will be a complete of 11,560,000 pixels, in order that’s a protected wager. So, if that is the case, these shows have a ppi of round 4,808(!) and that is greater than nearly the rest in the marketplace, and that is by a lot. Even the high-resolution OLED display on the Galaxy S23 Extremely has a ppi of “solely” 500. Whatever the panel’s manufacturing side ratio, the ppi goes to be spectacular. Apple did not reply instantly to CNET’s request for clarification.

AR and VR microdisplays are so near your eyes that they have to be extraordinarily excessive efficiency with a view to be life like. They want excessive decision so you do not see the pixels, they want excessive distinction ratios so they appear life like, and so they want excessive body charges to attenuate the prospect of movement blur and movement illness. As well as, being in moveable units means they want to have the ability to do all that with low energy consumption. Micro-OLED appears capable of do all of those, however at a price. Actually a price. The Imaginative and prescient Professional is essentially the most high-profile use of the high-end of the know-how and it prices $3,499.  

A tiny monochrome micro-OLED display next to the tip of a mechanical pencil.

A monochrome micro-OLED show from the corporate Microoled, one of many largest manufactures of micro-OLED shows. On the fitting is the tip of a mechanical pencil.


Micro-OLED know-how is not significantly new, having been out there in some type for over a decade. Sony has been utilizing them in digicam viewfinders for a number of years, as have Canon and Nikon. Like all show techs, nevertheless, micro-OLED has advanced fairly a bit through the years. The shows within the Imaginative and prescient Professional, as an example, are large and really excessive decision for a micro-OLED show. 

A 7.8mm wide high-resolution Micro-OLED display.

A high-resolution colour micro-OLED show by the corporate Microoled.


How is micro-OLED completely different from MicroLED? Even if they’re written barely in a different way, they’re superficially comparable in the best way they’re each self-emitting, or could make their very own mild. However on a extra in-depth degree, the variations between the carbon-based OLED and the non-carbon LED are sadly past the scope of this text. Suffice it to say proper now, MicroLED is best fitted to massive, wall-sized shows utilizing particular person pixels made up of LEDs. Micro-OLED is best fitted to tiny, high-resolution shows. This is not to say that MicroLED cannot be utilized in smaller shows, and we’ll doubtless see some ultimately. However for now they’re completely different instruments for various makes use of. 

The longer term is micro?

The Engo 2 eyeware with the tiny Micro-OLED display built into the nosepiece.

The Engo 2 eyeware makes use of a tiny micro-OLED made by the corporate Microoled. The show displays off the within of the eyeware to indicate you your pace, time, course and different knowledge. Principally something an athlete would wish for higher coaching, however as an alternative of on a watch or cellphone, it is projected in actual time in entrance of you. Basically, a head-up show constructed into sun shades.


The place else will we see micro-OLED? At MWC 2023, Xiaomi introduced its AR Glass Discovery Version featured the know-how, and future high-end VR headsets from Meta, HTC and others will doubtless use it. Presently, a firm named Engo is utilizing a tiny micro-OLED projector to show pace and different knowledge on the within of its AR sun shades. I do know I positive do not want these, however I need them. Then there’s the numerous mirrorless and different cameras which have been utilizing micro-OLED viewfinders for years.

May we see ultra-ultra-ultra high-resolution TVs with this new know-how? Technically, it is potential however extremely unlikely. Macro micro-OLED is simply OLED. The resolutions potential utilizing extra conventional OLED manufacturing are greater than sufficient for a show that is 10 ft out of your eyeballs. Nonetheless, it is potential micro-OLED may discover its manner into wearables and different moveable units the place its measurement, decision and effectivity will probably be an asset. That is doubtless why LG, Samsung Show, Sony and others are all engaged on micro-OLED.

Will ultra-thin, ultra-high decision micro-OLED shows compete in a market with ultra-thin, ultra-high decision nanoLED? May very well be. We will see.

In addition to protecting TV and different show tech, Geoff does photograph excursions of cool museums and places around the globe, together with nuclear submarines, huge plane carriers, medieval castles, epic 10,000-mile highway journeys and extra. Try Tech Treks for all his excursions and adventures.

He wrote a bestselling sci-fi novel about city-size submarines and a sequel. You may comply with his adventures on Instagram and his YouTube channel.

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