Future Smartphone Displays May Use Sapphire Instead of Glass

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 21, 2013.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    While Apple has received much praise for the aesthetics of its iPhone designs, it has also received criticism over durability issues, with many users unfortunately experiencing the problems with glass displays after dropping their devices onto hard surfaces. The iPhone 4 and 4S in particular have received criticism for their use of glass rear panels in addition to the front panel needed to accommodate the devices' displays.

    On the iPhone 5 and fifth-generation iPod touch, Apple began using sapphire crystal to cover the rear camera, providing superior durability and scratch resistance.
    As MIT Technology Review reports, however, smartphone users may find their entire screens covered by sapphire instead of glass in the relatively near future.
    Virey says that all major mobile phone makers are considering using sapphire instead of glass, with some high-end smartphones perhaps moving to sapphire as soon as late this year. The report does not, however, address whether Apple is seriously looking at expanding its use of sapphire beyond the camera cover glass.

    The report also outlines how cheaper options involving laminating a thin layer of sapphire onto a cheaper material are also under development, moves that could bring the price premium over Gorilla Glass to only three or four times with the potential to come down even further.

    Corning is of course not standing still with its Gorilla Glass products either, having announced Gorilla Glass 3 earlier this year. The new glass offers significantly greater strength and scratch resistance than its predecessors and could also be used to make thinner displays.

    Article Link: Future Smartphone Displays May Use Sapphire Instead of Glass
  2. macrumors G4


    Mar 24, 2006
    Sweet. My watch has a sapphire face and whilst there are scratches all over the bracelet, the face is still pristine. Problem with sapphire on a phone is that although scratch resistant, it easily shatters.
  3. macrumors 68030


    Aug 10, 2010
    macrumors apparently
    when the time comes, we should only worry about dropping the phone on diamonds
  4. macrumors demi-god


    Jul 24, 2009
    Most scratched iPhones I see its the coating that's scratched not the glass. And let's face it the issue with the ip5 is the aluminium not the glass.
  5. macrumors 68040


    Feb 5, 2009
    I don't know about the need for this. Gorilla Glass 3 seems pretty darn good and I can't see Apple wanting to see $20-30 being chipped away from their profit margins.
  6. macrumors 65816


    Mar 20, 2011
    Future threads on MacRumors: I dropped my bag of diamonds on the floor and consequently dropped my iphone on the diamonds, will apple replace my phone for free?
  7. macrumors member


    Oct 16, 2011
    Minneapolis, MN
    Hardness should not be confused with ductility and fracture resistance. I'm not sure exactly what the structure of manufactured sapphire is, but it may be more prone to shattering than glass, even while more resistant to scratching. I don't have a huge problem with scratching - it's the dropping that worries me with my iPhone.

    Diamond is the hardest substance known, but it will still shatter comparatively easily. Diamond is a single crystal, so there are no internal crystalline boundaries to stop fracture spread (as in metals and glass). I don't know if it's true of sapphire, or manufactured layer sapphire. Does anyone here?
  8. macrumors 6502a

    Sep 17, 2012
  9. macrumors 68040

    Bubba Satori

    Feb 15, 2008
    Of course not.
    $60 will be added to the Sapphire model to cover the $20-$30 material cost.
    There will be stampedes in the waiting lines and Anderson Cooper will have on the scene coverage.
  10. macrumors newbie

    Oct 8, 2003
    Not going to happen

    Harder things are more scratch resistant, but also more brittle. If the problem is shattering the solution is not making the screen more brittle.

    A non-brittle, impact resistant material coated with an extremely thing coating of sapphire, or better yet diamond, would be ideal.
  11. macrumors 601

    Nov 25, 2012
    United States
    I've never dropped my iPhone. Not to say that it can't happen, but there are people that are just plain careless.
  12. macrumors regular

    Apr 23, 2011
    meh, not impressed. i crush diamonds with my nokia 3310.
  13. macrumors 65816


    Feb 5, 2007
    Sapphire crystal is fairly shatter resistant when it's exceptionally thick. But the thickness of the sapphire crystal on my wristwatch would not be practical for an iPhone.

    A possible alternative would be transparent aluminum (yes, Star Trek fans, it actually exists in the form of aluminum oxynitride, aka ALON, manufactured by the Surmet Corporation)... it's not quite as hard as sapphire, but ballistics-grade shatter resistant at 1/6th the thickness of the equivalent glass armor. Its cost is currently comparable to synthetic sapphire.
  14. macrumors 6502

    Mar 9, 2012
    Could the sapphire lens cover be a trial for a larger production? Like Apple TV being trial ground for processors?
  15. macrumors 65816

    Aug 13, 2011
    True re:watch .. My sapphire watch is from 1993 and still no single scratch (but yes, bracelet and whatnot are scratched to death lol)
  16. macrumors 6502

    Jan 19, 2007
    How is this news? We've known that the future was in transparent aluminum since 1986.
  17. macrumors 6502

    Apr 6, 2009
    ... only if our world were transparent.
  18. macrumors 65816


    Feb 5, 2007
    The future is already here.

    And here.

    Beam me up, Scotty.
  19. macrumors 6502a


    Nov 9, 2009
    Aluminum is EASILY to scratch, do you want that as a screen?
  20. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 12, 2009
    Excellent. All my watches have sapphire crystals and they never have been scratched. However, my months old iPhone 5 (which I never keep anywhere near abrasive materials) has a deep scratch in the screen (not in the coating, in the glass itself).
  21. macrumors 65816


    Feb 5, 2007
    ALON/aluminum oxynitride has 85% of the hardness of synthetic sapphire and it's technically a ceramic... It's not the same as the aluminum you're thinking of.
  22. macrumors regular

    Sep 16, 2006
    Apple has billions, they need to spend some of that money and build cooler techs!

    Diamonds are not as rare as the industry makes people think. What about diamond screens?
  23. macrumors 6502a

    May 30, 2007
    This is as far out financially viable for consumers as possible it's not even funny.
  24. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 16, 2008
    Surrey, BC
    I've dropped my phone twice, one onto its back once onto its front. No scratches on the screen, just some dings in the bezel. I was lucky!
    Sure it was because I was careless. I was holding my phone as a flashlight and it slipped out of my hand. Or once I was holding my phone while getting my son out the car and dropped it onto the parking lot. But just because I was a bit careless doesn't mean I wouldn't appreciate Apple making efforts where they can to protect against it.
    Accidents happen to everybody. Are you really that arrogant to suggest they never happen to you?
  25. macrumors 65816


    Sep 20, 2002
    Skip the Sapphires, let's go straight to Diamonds!

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