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Old May 6, 2014, 08:29 AM   #1
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Rising Sapphire Display Cost May Limit Production of 5.5-Inch iPhone 6




A new post on Weibo citing supply chain sources (Google Translate, via GforGames) claims Apple's 5.5-inch iPhone may see a limited production volume due to the use of high quality sapphire as a display material. According to the report, the high cost of producing the sapphire may hinder Apple's ability to include the scratch-resistant material in a large number of its smartphone models.

The report notes that Apple's sapphire display may cost 1743 yuan (or $280) in materials, which is a significant jump over the $44 estimated for the 4-inch Retina display used in the iPhone 5s. This extra expense could increase the retail price of the next generation iPhone by approximately 50 percent, which may price the smartphone beyond the affordability point for most consumers.
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These latest reports suggest that the sapphire screen costs around 1743 yuan (or $280), which would raise the final cost of the device to about 8000 yuan (or $1285) - at least in China. At the moment, the 16 GB iPhone 5S costs 5288 yuan in China ($850), whereas the beefier 64 GB variant is retailed at the price of 6888 yuan (or $1106)
This rumor corresponds with an earlier report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who suggested that supply constraints may force Apple to reserve the sapphire display for premium iPhone models such as the 64GB version of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6.

Though Apple still buys sapphire from third-party suppliers, the company is starting to produce the material in small quantities at its Arizona facility. The sapphire production plant, which is financed by Apple and operated by GT Advanced, is expected to produce between 100 and 200 million sapphire displays, enough for an entire line of devices when it reaches full operating capacity.

Article Link: Rising Sapphire Display Cost May Limit Production of 5.5-Inch iPhone 6
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:32 AM   #2
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I don't understand what this has to do with Apple when they are manufacturing the Sapphire themselves and from what I understand they build a block of sapphire using only a tiny piece of sapphire as a catalyst, it grows like a crystal so how would the cost of Sapphire affect them if they are growing their own sapphire blocks?
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:32 AM   #3
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Sounds like someone is trying to force Apple to move the plant to china!!
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:33 AM   #4
danielowenuk
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They just won't do it, it's far to much of a jump in component cost for the benefit of what apple would see.

Providing a stronger glass does what for Apple? Are there millions of people never buying an iPhone again because the screen smashed?

It's not a big enough selling point to warrant that sort of price increase.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:39 AM   #5
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This rumor corresponds with an earlier report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who suggested that supply constraints may force Apple to reserve the sapphire display for premium iPhone models such as the 64GB version of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6.
No it does not. Supply chain constraints and increased costs are two very different things.

----------

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Originally Posted by Quu View Post
I don't understand what this has to do with Apple when they are manufacturing the Sapphire themselves and from what I understand they build a block of sapphire using only a tiny piece of sapphire as a catalyst, it grows like a crystal so how would the cost of Sapphire affect them if they are growing their own sapphire blocks?
Even if they manufacture it themselves, there still is a cost associated with the component. Apparently, those costs are too high.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:39 AM   #6
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This wasn't thought through very well by Apple.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:43 AM   #7
Amacfa
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Forgive my ignorance, but does this mean a sapphire phone won't shatter if I drop it? That's pretty huge IMO.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:43 AM   #8
wizard
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There is reliable speculation that the Sapphire is not a cover glass at all but rather a substrate for new LED display technology. I honestly don't see an advantage in replacing Gorila Glass with Sapphire so this seems plausible.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:44 AM   #9
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The report notes that Apple's sapphire display may cost 1743 yuan (or $280) in materials, which is a significant jump over the $44 estimated for the 4-inch Retina display used in the iPhone 5s. This extra expense could increase the retail price of the next generation iPhone by approximately 50 percent, which may price the smartphone beyond the affordability point for most consumers.
In which case there is no way they will adopt the material. Ignoring labour cost for a second, they could replace the existing screen six times for the cost of the stronger sapphire display if breakage is a huge issue. Even labour cost should be quite low now that Apple stores are fitted with the tools to carry out such a repair. They'll adopt the material if it makes financial sense, but if the cost of a 5.5" display is that high then it'll surely be dedicated to camera lenses and the iWatch for the time being. Stronger displays are nice, but not for a 50% cost increase.

Alternatively the estimated cost is grossly inaccurate.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:45 AM   #10
tkanyc
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Sapphire makes no sense for iPhone

As a gemologist, I'm very familiar with sapphire's durability and usefulness in certain applications. They're used for high end watch crystals because they're very scratch resistant. They do chip and abrade, however. And they're not flexible. I have doubts that sapphire would provide significant net durability benefits over Corning's Gorilla Glass, and that's before cost/benefit considerations.

Count me as one who thinks that Apple's sapphire displays will remain on small screens only (iWatch, iPod Nano, etc), and won't supplant Gorilla Glass for iPhone.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:45 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by crosscreek View Post
this wasn't thought through very well by a̶p̶p̶l̶e̶ the people reporting it.
ftfy
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:45 AM   #12
tethernaut
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Morons. Sapphire prices have skyrocketed because Apple has cornered the market... at a favorable price. What others would have to pay for a sapphire display is not what Apple will have to pay for a sapphire display.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:46 AM   #13
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Wish capacity didn't mean "premium".
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:47 AM   #14
scott911
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i'll take mine with gorillas glass instead if that helps.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:47 AM   #15
Keniutek
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Originally Posted by Amacfa View Post
Forgive my ignorance, but does this mean a sapphire phone won't shatter if I drop it? That's pretty huge IMO.
Oh, it'll shatter pretty nicely. It won't scratch though
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:47 AM   #16
wizard
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amacfa View Post
Forgive my ignorance, but does this mean a sapphire phone won't shatter if I drop it? That's pretty huge IMO.
No it doesn't mean that at all. Anything can be broken. However these materials are extremely durable, forms of aluminum similar to this material result in extremely tough bullet resistant "glass". Even then the material ends up damaged upon impact.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:47 AM   #17
claus1225
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people need to understand that the cost of iphone is relatively low compared to the cost of monthly bills.

on a 2 year contract, you'll spend around $2000 to $3000.

it's irelevant iphone 6 costs $100 or $200 more on contractual price.

even if the iphone costs $500 on 2 year old contract, people will still buy it.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:47 AM   #18
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I don't believe it for a minute. The sapphire production will be for smaller screens/buttons, at least at first.
A 5.5 inch sapphire screen risks jumping the shark, or in modern Aussie parlance, knitting the kangaroo. For two opposing reasons. One is the manufacturing cost, which will impact margins, even if the charge a lot more, they wouldn't be able to up the retail price enough. But also the very high likelihood of being unable to manufacture enough (again, see margin issue).
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:47 AM   #19
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Well silly story anyway since the use of Sapphire as a display is a rumor to begin with. So any alleged delays using an alleged material on an alleged sized device shouldn't surprise anyone.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:49 AM   #20
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Apple has purchased 100's of Sapphire furnaces from Advanced GT. This is a done deal and a fixed cost. To get Sapphire you just need to add heat, staff, a building and large quantities of Allumina powder... On which one of these has the price changed?

I guess there could be a problem with manufacturing yield but I think the technology is quite mature.

This whole story sounds dodgy to me.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:52 AM   #21
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Ridiculous rumor. iPhones won't use sapphire, and there won't be a 5.5" iPhone.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:52 AM   #22
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Mark my words.
There will not be a 5.5" iPhone.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:53 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard View Post
No it doesn't mean that at all. Anything can be broken. However these materials are extremely durable, forms of aluminum similar to this material result in extremely tough bullet resistant "glass". Even then the material ends up damaged upon impact.
With the sapphire glass, will they be able to maintain the same flexibility as that of a gorilla glass? That is something I've been wondering ever since the rumour of a sapphire glass replacing the current gorilla glass has been doing the rounds.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:54 AM   #24
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Just come out with the 4.7 inch one and we'll take if from there.
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Old May 6, 2014, 08:55 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard View Post
No it doesn't mean that at all. Anything can be broken. However these materials are extremely durable, forms of aluminum similar to this material result in extremely tough bullet resistant "glass". Even then the material ends up damaged upon impact.
So you can still ding and chip the glass, but no longer crack it, or vise versa? Is it less prone to cracking?
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