Apple Preparing for Massive Production of Devices with Sapphire Displays

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.

    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
  2. macrumors regular


    May 14, 2012
    All I need is Thunderbolt Displays worth the $999 price tag.
  3. macrumors 68020

    Apr 2, 2008
    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).
  4. macrumors 601

    Nov 12, 2007
    > 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?
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Jul 15, 2011
    You barely saw any scratches does not mean no one else did.
  6. macrumors member

    Jun 17, 2010
    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.
  7. macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2012
    oo yes, new product in the fall :apple:
  8. Ieo
    macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2009
    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.
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 16, 2011
    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.
  10. macrumors 65816


    Sep 22, 2012
  11. macrumors 6502

    Jun 20, 2010
    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.
  12. bedifferent, Feb 6, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2014

    macrumors 603


    Jan 8, 2009
    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 :)
  13. macrumors G5


    Nov 14, 2011
    So Jony has new toys to play with. :D

    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.”
  14. macrumors regular

    Apr 3, 2007
    New York City
    Since when were you allowed to brag about how you were right based on a rumor?
  15. Ieo
    macrumors 6502

    Jun 17, 2009
    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.
  16. macrumors member

    Dec 24, 2010
    Huh huh, huh huh... this will be one FLY factory, dude... huh huh...
  17. macrumors regular


    Apr 15, 2012
    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
  18. macrumors member

    May 18, 2012
    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.
  19. macrumors 68000


    Jul 22, 2010
    United Kingdom
    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.
  20. bpbatch, Feb 6, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2014

    macrumors member

    Dec 24, 2010
    ••this post has been deleted by the author***
  21. macrumors 68030


    Nov 5, 2007

    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.
  22. macrumors regular


    Apr 15, 2012
    the phone prices will remain solid that's why they are manufacturing at such a large scale to drive the cost down,
  23. macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2008
    Up north
    "a "critical new sub-component" for iOS devices"

    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.
  24. macrumors 68030


    Oct 6, 2008
    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...
  25. macrumors 68030


    Sep 3, 2011
    I thought it was mostly the soft oleophobic coating that gets scratched, not the glass itself.

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