Rising Sapphire Display Cost May Limit Production of 5.5-Inch iPhone 6

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, May 6, 2014.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    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.
    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
  2. Quu
    macrumors 68000


    Apr 2, 2007
    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?
  3. macrumors 603


    Oct 13, 2008
    Everywhere And Nowhere
    Sounds like someone is trying to force Apple to move the plant to china!!
  4. macrumors regular

    Mar 18, 2011
    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.
  5. macrumors 65816

    Aug 17, 2008
    No it does not. Supply chain constraints and increased costs are two very different things.


    Even if they manufacture it themselves, there still is a cost associated with the component. Apparently, those costs are too high.
  6. macrumors 68000


    Nov 19, 2013
    This wasn't thought through very well by Apple.
  7. macrumors 6502a

    May 22, 2009
    Forgive my ignorance, but does this mean a sapphire phone won't shatter if I drop it? That's pretty huge IMO.
  8. macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    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.
  9. macrumors regular

    Feb 21, 2011
    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.
  10. macrumors newbie

    May 6, 2014
    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.
  11. macrumors newbie

    Jun 10, 2013
  12. macrumors newbie

    Dec 16, 2008
    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.
  13. macrumors G3


    Mar 20, 2007
  14. macrumors 6502

    Aug 24, 2009
    i'll take mine with gorillas glass instead if that helps.
  15. macrumors 6502


    Oct 6, 2011
    Oh, it'll shatter pretty nicely. It won't scratch though ;)
  16. macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    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.
  17. macrumors member

    May 25, 2009
    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.
  18. macrumors regular

    Jan 5, 2007
    Brisbane, Australia
    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).
  19. macrumors P6

    Jun 22, 2009
    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.
  20. macrumors regular

    Mar 20, 2002
    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.
  21. macrumors 65816

    Apr 16, 2004
    Drifting through space in a broken escape pod
    Ridiculous rumor. iPhones won't use sapphire, and there won't be a 5.5" iPhone.
  22. macrumors regular


    Apr 24, 2014
    Mark my words.
    There will not be a 5.5" iPhone.
  23. macrumors regular


    Nov 21, 2012
    Melbourne, Australia
    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.
  24. macrumors 65816

    Feb 15, 2011
    Just come out with the 4.7 inch one and we'll take if from there.
  25. macrumors 6502a

    May 22, 2009
    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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