A new and improved OLED screen that could be perfect for the next generation of smartwatches is coming, and the likes of Apple and Google should be getting on board fast in order to stay relevant.
The best Apple Watches currently sport advanced OLED screens: the Apple Watch Ultra, for example, has a LTPO OLED screen which is 410 by 502 px. That’s 338 ppi, or “pixels per inch”, and pretty impressive by modern smartwatch standards.
However, this new 'ViP' screen tech screen is going to change the game. Created by manufacturers Visionox, the Visionox Intelligent Pixelization (or ViP) screen is able to push pixel density to 1700 ppi, according to reports by OLED-info. Not only does that mean it will be easier to create larger screens with this technology, but the small screens on our wrists are about to get crystal clear.
At that level of pixel density, you’d have a working out whether what you were looking at was indeed a screen at all, even if you held it very close to your eye – it could simply look like a real watch.
Visionox also reports that its ViP OLED screens can also deliver four times the brightness compared to standard OLEDs, so it'll be even more visible when clear when you're out in daylight.
Visionox is currently developing its mass-production capabilities, which means we won't see this tech in Apple Watch 9 for sure. Apple currently buys its screens from LG, and it's not the only smartwatch manufacturer to do so. It'll be interesting to see whether Visionox can tempt Apple – or might even supply the tech to achieve all this to a bigger name that keep up with sheer number of screens that the likes of Apple need.
Solving my biggest smartwatch problem
We’re reaching our limits as to what we can do with this generation of technology, and it’s time to go to the next. Imagine screens that perform amazingly well and stay crisp and clear even on dimmer settings (such as the Huawei Watch Ultimate’s night-vision friendly Expedition Mode, pictured above) and any watch face or image created for them feels as though it’s really there, just under the glass.
One of my biggest, albeit simplest, smartwatch bugbears is that almost every watch has the option to set your watch face to one with analog-style hands. Apple does it. Huawei does it. Polar does it. Garmin does it. However, without fail, these watch faces all look terrible. I don’t care how good your watch is, I always feel as though analog-style watch faces on screens look undeniably bad.
Huawei Watch Ultimate's standard watch faces were the worst recent culprit: there’s just no excuse for a watch that expensive to have an array of faces that look so cheap.
One of my biggest problems with the Apple Watch (other than meager battery life) is its fairly dull watch face designs, with no third-party customization options to spice things up.
With a 1700 ppi OLED screen, that could change – faces wouldn't have to be designed to look good on screens that are still visibly pixelated. They could be designed as if they'd be real watches: let’s give watch faces, realistically the part of the watch you look at most often on a day-to-day basis, a high-tech, high-concept overhaul.
Let’s get photorealistic hands and analog movements. Let’s get Tron-style digital watch faces that have clusters of information constantly moving along their sleek lines. Let’s get real weird with it, powered by a tiny, impossibly high-res screen. The sky’s the limit.