iPhone with Sapphire Display Glass Reportedly in Trial Production

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    Earlier this week, an Apple patent application highlighted Apple's interest in potentially using sapphire as a display glass cover on future iPhones, and according to a new report [Google Translate] from Taiwan's Apple Daily, the company's assembly partner Foxconn has begun trial production on just such a device with an initial run of 100 units.

    [​IMG]
    Furnaces for sapphire glass production
    The report notes that while it is a small number of devices, the production does mark a significant step in experimentation with the material on a broader scale for Apple. The report also claims that Apple's sapphire suppliers Synopsys and Bern Optics have made significant investments in cutting machines and other equipment recently, fueling speculation that Apple is ramping up its sapphire usage. MacRumors has also heard unconfirmed word that Apple has been working with Swiss company Meyer Burger Technologies to obtain new sapphire cutting machines. Sapphire is currently used to protect the cameras on recent iPhones and the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5s, but expanding its use to include display cover glass would necessitate a massive increase in sapphire production.

    Last November, it was revealed that Apple had struck a deal with GT Advanced Technologies to build a sapphire production facility in Mesa, Arizona. That facility is not yet operational, however, with Apple still hiring its own staff and GT Advanced Technologies recruiting employees to perform the bulk of the work at the facility.

    Sapphire has been seen as a potential successor to high-strength glass for display covers, although Corning claims that its Gorilla Glass 3 outperforms sapphire at lower cost. Apple has reportedly experimented with sapphire display covers at one point and found them infeasible, but improvements in the material and production technologies since that time may have convinced the company to revisit the possibility.

    Article Link: iPhone with Sapphire Display Glass Reportedly in Trial Production
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    FakeWozniak

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    #2
    With the glass being sapphire, does that mean the button will be diamond? :)
     
  3. macrumors 68000

    69Mustang

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    Looks like we may see something in the 2016-2017 time frame. It seems pretty obvious this will not be a quick and easy implementation. I'm interested to see what's at the end of that road.
     
  4. macrumors 603

    Menel

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    #4
    Tight schedule, but I think there is still time to have something for Fall 2014 produced here.
     
  5. macrumors 6502a

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    #5
    I love how sapphire is just aluminum rust in a special arrangement, and you can just grow crystals of it. It's not like gold where there is a limited amount and you have to dig it up.
     
  6. macrumors 68040

    KdParker

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  7. macrumors 65816

    iChrist

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    Huh?

    Oh, it's a joke. Oh yeah, maybe the button will be diamond. OMG hahahahah. And then the volume button will be ruby. And then the sleep button will be amethyst. hahahahaaaa.
     
  8. macrumors 68000

    Tankmaze

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    #8
    iWatch. you heard it here first.

    if they done initial run in january, it could be in full production mid year and hopefully new apple product in the fall. crossing fingers.
     
  9. macrumors 6502a

    AppleInLVX

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    #9
    So theoretically, what's the benefit to a sapphire display cover? More shatter-resistant? I haven't ever thought about the display on my iPhone. I don't know that using a new material that doesn't change much will be a huge selling point.
     
  10. macrumors regular

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    #10
    Sapphire is second only to diamond in scratch resistance.

    ----------

    I believe they were getting at the fact that diamond is the only thing more scratch resistant, and thus would start with the small home button, unfortunately diamond is too expensive thanks to sellers hoarding them in unbelievable quantities in vaults to keep the price high.
     
  11. macrumors 6502a

    AppleInLVX

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    #11
    OK. I've never scratched my display as it is, but perhaps I'm in the minority. The display looks as good today as it did when I opened it 2.5 years ago, and I use it all the time. I guess what I'm saying is, for me, it ain't broke, so fixing it doesn't do much for me. *shrug*
     
  12. macrumors 6502a

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    #12
    But it may do it for a heck of a lot of other folks who are not as lucky as you and have scratched or broken their display before. It would pretty much make your screen protectors redundant..
     
  13. macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    As they are talking about using very thin films of sapphire it could be bonded to the surface of soft shatter resistant glass to make a display that is both shatter proof and scratch proof which is the holy grail for display glass. It will be interesting to see how this develops.
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Yes, Apple should make an exception and do a production run of ONE unit with the same screen as the current for you when they make the change :)
     
  15. macrumors 6502a

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  16. macrumors 6502a

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    #16
    Indeed. I have a swanky Rado watch that has a sapphire glass cover and it's virtually indestructible. I can scrape its face against a brick wall and it still looks like new.
     
  17. ATC
    macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    I've managed to scratch every iPhone I've owned and I'm not rough on them at all. I've even received refurb iPhone replacements that had fine scratches on the glass. But if I take a look at my watch from 20 years that has sapphire glass and I've been significantly rougher on it that any of my iPhones, there's not a single scratch on it, fine or otherwise.

    Here's hoping sapphire makes its way onto all of Apple's portable devices.
     
  18. macrumors 68040

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    #18
    For a premium device this is a welcome material. Nokia did it with its 8800 series and vertu as well and saphire will me probably thinner than gorilla glass
     
  19. macrumors 68020

    LostSoul80

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    #19
    "Reportedly" in "trial".

    Is this a joke? A news referring to a possible trial?

    :confused:
     
  20. macrumors member

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    #20
    You know, it never made sense in the first place to construct glass out of gorillas. Constructing the glass out of sapphire seems like a notable improvement to me.
     
  21. macrumors 68030

    Patriot24

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    #21
    I agree. We've heard all kinds of rumors about sapphire being used for phones, home buttons, and camera lens covers. I believe that Apple may be testing it for those purposes, but that it has already been selected for the iWatch face.

    It makes a ton of sense given the strength and scratch resistance required for something like a watch that will be beaten daily.
     
  22. macrumors G3

    NT1440

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    #22
    http://www.patentlyapple.com/patent...s-for-using-sapphire-on-idevice-displays.html

    Very interesting indeed.
     
  23. Ieo
    macrumors 6502

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    #23
    If they can manage a sapphire display and finally waterproof the phone, they have the next generation in the bag. Bigger display, the best scratch resistance you can get, water resistance, and the obligatory hardware bumps would make for the best phone by a mile.
     
  24. macrumors 68000

    69Mustang

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    #24
    Possible yes, but unlikely. With the GT facility not yet operational and neither GT nor Apple being fully staffed...

    Once they are fully operational you then have to consider the continued R&D for mass production at acceptable yields. That's not a small consideration. Yield is going to be key. Late 2014 early 2015 could probably yield enough to produce an iWatch but the scale of iPhone production is a massive undertaking. I don't think 11 months will be enough. I'm just spitballing but I just can't see it.
     
  25. macrumors G3

    NT1440

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    #25
    Do you understand how manufacturing works?

    This is news.
     

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