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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:14 PM   #1
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Apple Preparing for Massive Production of Devices with Sapphire Displays




GT Advanced, the company that has partnered with Apple to open a sapphire plant in Mesa Arizona, has purchased and received a total of 518 sapphire furnace and chamber systems with another 420 machines on order, according to analyst Matt Margolis (via 9to5Mac). The company has also purchased multiple "Sapphire Display Inspection Tools" from Intego.

The sheer amount of equipment purchased indicates that a massive sapphire production operation is being installed at the Arizona factory, and as rumors have hinted, the large amounts of sapphire being produced, along with the tools ordered, could hint at a future ultra-durable iPhone display.

Matt Margolis believes that with the current equipment the factory has, it could produce between 103 and 116 million displays per year, with an additional 84 to 94 million possible when taking into account the 420 furnaces on order. Apple could, in total, produce 100 to 200 million ~5-inch sapphire displays, enough for its entire line of devices. In 2013, Apple sold approximately 150 million iPhones.

In documentation, GT Advanced itself suggests the aforementioned Sapphire Inspection Tools are aimed at device displays.

Quote:
Lowering manufacturing and fabrication costs of sapphire is a key driver for accelerating the adoption of its use in new market segments such as cover screens for smartphones and mobile devices. GT Advanced Technologies is working with key downstream technology providers to optimize fabrication processes and technologies to lower the cost of sapphire cover screen material.

GT is partnering with Intego GmbH to develop a series of automated sapphire inspection tools that will increase the yield of high quality sapphire material from each boule and ensure that only high quality material enters the value stream. The SIRIUS Slab automated sapphire inspection tool begins a new level of repeatability and performance throughput to the production of sapphire material intended for high volume markets such as mobile and touch screen devices.
In November, shortly after the partnership between GT Advanced and Apple was announced, it became clear that GT Advanced, with Apple's help, was aiming to drastically increase its sapphire production.

A recent patent pointed to Apple's interest in using sapphire as a display cover on future iPhones and shortly after, a report suggested Apple partner Foxconn had already began a small trial production of 100 devices with a sapphire display.

Those rumors, along with today's report, indicate that Apple is almost certainly aiming to use sapphire as a major component in an upcoming product such as the next-generation iPhone or the company's much-rumored iWatch. Currently, the company uses limited quantities of sapphire to protect the camera on recent iPhones and to cover the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5s.

Sapphire, as the second hardest mineral after diamond, is incredibly durable and scratch resistant, as can be seen in the video below. An iPhone with a sapphire display would be almost impossible to scratch in day-to-day use.

Video courtesy of Pocketnow
Apple and GT Advanced are said to be aiming to take the Mesa, Arizona plant live by February in order to begin immediate production of a "critical new sub-component" for iOS devices.

Article Link: Apple Preparing for Massive Production of Devices with Sapphire Displays
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:16 PM   #2
Lapidus
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All I need is Thunderbolt Displays worth the $999 price tag.
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:17 PM   #3
newyorksole
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Hmmmm I think they're trying to get the iWatch out in time for the holiday season AND use Sapphire displays on the 2014 iPhone(s).
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:18 PM   #4
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> Sapphire, as the second hardest mineral after diamond, is incredibly durable and scratch resistant, as can be seen in the video below. An iPhone with a sapphire display would be almost impossible to scratch in day-to-day use.

Is that all of the benefits? I barely saw any scratches ever since iPhone 3/4 came out.

What about the width and weight? Can it be just as durable while being thinner than the current panel?
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by MikhailT View Post
> Sapphire, as the second hardest mineral after diamond, is incredibly durable and scratch resistant, as can be seen in the video below. An iPhone with a sapphire display would be almost impossible to scratch in day-to-day use.

Is that all of the benefits? I barely saw any scratches ever since iPhone 3/4 came out.

What about the width and weight? Can it be just as durable while being thinner than the current panel?
You barely saw any scratches does not mean no one else did.
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:22 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by MikhailT View Post
Is that all of the benefits? I barely saw any scratches ever since iPhone 3/4 came out.
Don't say it too loud, or them keys in your pocket might get jingly. To be frank, it takes just one scratch to ruin the look of such an expensive device. Kudos to Apple that they are going the extra mile.
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Arizona plant live by February in order to begin immediate production of a "critical new sub-component" for iOS devices.
oo yes, new product in the fall
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:25 PM   #8
Ieo
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I personally would like to hear from everyone who said a sapphire iphone 6 was impossible and the Mesa facility was definitely for iWatch screens.
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:26 PM   #9
osx11
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I don't think this is for the iphone. Is gorilla glass not strong enough?

(expensive) watches, however, have used saphire for decades. You're going to bump into things with a watch and so saphire makes sense here.

I'm not saying saphire iPhone displays are impossible, I just don't think they are needed.
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:26 PM   #10
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Obviously this is for the Mini iPad Mini.
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:26 PM   #11
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I'm sure it's been mentioned but every quality watch in the world had a sapphire crystal. Other types of glass are just not scratch resistant enough.
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:31 PM   #12
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What's the recyclability factor on sapphire?

*Yes, I am aware it is glass, and glass is recyclable. I assumed the general MacRumors commentator was aware of this fact, however for those who sarcastically responded allow me to rephrase.

The sapphire process used in these rumored displays may require more energy to recycle the material depending on how the sapphire is truly implemented (either as a coating, shield, etc.). As these are rumors, my question was purely hypothetical and assumed readers would know that glass is a recyclable material.

Thank you
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Last edited by bedifferent; Feb 6, 2014 at 05:50 PM. Reason: Glass is a recyclable material
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:32 PM   #13
Rogifan
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So Jony has new toys to play with.

Reminds me of a quote from the Leander Kahney bio, Ive telling a supplier: “Imagine I have a bucket of money in my hand. I will let you pull out as much as you want to make this happen.”
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:33 PM   #14
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I personally would like to hear from everyone who said a sapphire iphone 6 was impossible and the Mesa facility was definitely for iWatch screens.
Since when were you allowed to brag about how you were right based on a rumor?
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:36 PM   #15
Ieo
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Originally Posted by rydewnd2 View Post
Since when were you allowed to brag about how you were right based on a rumor?
I didn't say it was a sure thing now, I just got tired of people saying the quantities were impossible for this year. These numbers show it's possible, now we sit back and wait for it to happen.
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:41 PM   #16
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(...)with an additional 84 to 94 million possible when taking into account the 420 furnaces on order.
Huh huh, huh huh... this will be one FLY factory, dude... huh huh...
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:41 PM   #17
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this will make for an excellent iphone now if they could just combine this with a liquid metal unibody we would almost be indestructible can't wait till fall
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:42 PM   #18
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the idea is pretty sound. I am very rough phone user... and i do keep one of those screen protectors on my phone. I'd be a lot more confident about sapphire though.

I hope it doesnt mean a jump in the prices though. Or at least not too steep a jump.
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:42 PM   #19
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Is it not the oleophobic coating that actually scratches more than the screen itself? What we need is a fingerprint proof cover that does not need any special coating.
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:43 PM   #20
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••this post has been deleted by the author***

Last edited by bpbatch; Mar 26, 2014 at 01:45 PM.
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:43 PM   #21
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Wow

Count me as part of the group that thought that one plant's manufacturing ability of crystal clear sapphire would never be enough for a year's iPhone run. At least not during its first year of operation while the kinks are getting worked out. I thought they would start a lot more small scale before trying to meet iPhone demand.

So are we saying that the plan is to make iPhone screens in Mesa, Arizona and then ship them to China for attachment to displays? Are the Corning Gorilla Glass displays all made in the U.S. and then shipped to China already? And in the case of Gorilla Glass this would be for more than just the iPhone as it would include all the other high end smartphones.
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:43 PM   #22
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the phone prices will remain solid that's why they are manufacturing at such a large scale to drive the cost down,
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:49 PM   #23
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"a "critical new sub-component" for iOS devices"

New!
As in, not a camera-lens cover. Not for TouchID on iPad, either.

Almost un-scratchable 4.X-inch iPhone glass or iWatch glass. Or both.
Looking forward to this.
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 03:54 PM   #24
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Personally I don't really care about scratches, as I have only scratched the glass on my iPhone noticeably once in 5 years. And it was the back of an iPhone 5.

Rather I want more impact resistance. The sales guy said it should be more shatter resistant, but I am not sure that is true...
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Old Feb 6, 2014, 04:01 PM   #25
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I thought it was mostly the soft oleophobic coating that gets scratched, not the glass itself.
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