Apple Experimented with Sapphire Crystal Displays, Found Them Infeasible


macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

Back in March, an MIT report suggested that Apple and other smartphone manufacturers could potentially switch to sapphire crystal displays rather than the standard Gorilla Glass displays currently in use.

As it turns out, Apple has already experimented with sapphire screens. In an interview with Swiss news site Tages-Anzeiger [Google Translation], Vertu COO Perry Oosting revealed that Apple investigated the possibility of a sapphire display, recruiting an unspecified number of Vertu employees to work on the project.

Vertu is a British company that produces luxury cell phones, some with sapphire displays, and at least two former Vertu employees appear to have joined Apple in the last year.

According to Oosting, Apple ultimately shelved the sapphire project because the material is unsuitable for production in the numbers that Apple requires at the current point in time. Corning, the company that manufacturers Gorilla Glass 3 for Apple's displays, has also stated that sapphire is an inferior option for mobile displays.

The company believes that Gorilla Glass offers greater strength, lower weight, less energy cost in production, and lower pricing; all important features for mass manufactured products.

Though Apple may not have current plans to utilize sapphire displays, it has incorporated sapphire crystal into the iPhone, as a cover for the rear camera on the fifth generation iPhone. Rumors have suggested that sapphire may also be used as part of the home button in the iPhone 5S.

(Thanks, Rainer!)

Article Link: Apple Experimented with Sapphire Crystal Displays, Found Them Infeasible


macrumors newbie
Dec 16, 2008

Not that it matters, but just for the sake of correctness... ;) Tages Anzeiger is a Swiss newspaper, not German.


macrumors 68040
Jun 26, 2009
Burpelson AFB
I'm sure Apple tries just about everything. I wouldn't be surprised to find out they experimented with just about any substance.


macrumors 603
Oct 29, 2007

That could change in 9 months, or in 3 years, or never.
Yeah, I read it as Apple needs some time to invest in whoever's infrastructure before it can get going. They didn't put it on the camera lens because it was for fun.

I don't want my screen to look like that.
I don't even know why they'd show that. We're talking about synthetic sapphire. A shot of the 5's camera would be more appropriate.


macrumors 68040
Mar 28, 2005
#If I gave you diamonds and pearls
Would you be a happy boy or a girl
If I could I would give you the world
All I can do is just offer you my love… and new flat user-interface… and iCloud… and stuff….


macrumors regular
Nov 30, 2010
I'm puzzled as to why they looked at this in the first place - compared to gorilla glass, it doesn't seem to have many advantages...


macrumors 68040
Jan 31, 2005
La Jolla, CA
My Omega watch has Saphire Crystal and I have it for almost 20 years after a lot of abuse without a single scratch. Pretty amazing. Great material.


macrumors member
Jun 19, 2011
Wow I went a checked out those Vertu phones. Very impressive. Never new there were luxury cell phones. $1250 for a phone is a little crazy but they are very nicely designed.


macrumors 603
Jun 19, 2009
My Omega watch has Saphire Crystal and I have it for almost 20 years after a lot of abuse without a single scratch. Pretty amazing. Great material.

probably, but i bet there are a lot more iphones out in the world than omega watches. and the iphone display has to do a lot more.

its one thing building a demo unit. totally another manufacturing tens of millions of units for sale at prices people will pay


macrumors 65816
May 16, 2012
It is not very likely that sapphire would be used for the home button, as a scratched one would still function. Scratches on the lens however do affect the camera function.
If the home button would include a fingerprint scanner it might well be useful.


I'd love a sapphire crystal display and would be willing to pay a premium to get it.

It's what my Rolex uses and there's not a single scratch..
They still go out of fashion though, scratched or not.