Sapphire Production Underway in Arizona, Small Quantities Shipped to Apple Partners

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Apr 30, 2014.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Apple's sapphire crystal partner GT Advanced has begun sapphire production and has even shipped small quantities of the material to an Apple partner in China responsible for making sapphire covers, according to a report from analysts at UBS Research.

    Sapphire production is said to have begun last month, in March, but it appears the facility is not yet running at full capacity. GT Advanced reportedly shipped 2,200kg of sapphire, the amount produced by approximately 100 furnaces.

    The company is said to be on schedule to install another 400 to 500 furnaces in the first quarter of 2014 and an additional 900 to 1,000 in the second quarter, significantly ramping up production towards the end of the year ahead of the release of both the iPhone 6 and the iWatch.

    GT Advanced's sapphire production plant, which is financed by Apple, uses large capacity furnaces that emphasize lower cost, higher volume sapphire manufacturing. While Apple currently sources sapphire from a number of other suppliers for use in iPhone elements like the protective cover over the cameras and the home button of the iPhone 5s, GT Advanced's operation will produce much higher quantities of the material, leading many to believe Apple has big plans for sapphire.

    Thus far, rumors have suggested that Apple may be planning to use sapphire crystal displays in its upcoming iPhone 6, due to the superior durability and scratch resistance of the material. A recent report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggested supplies could be limited, however, resulting in only some models of the iPhone 6 produced using sapphire.

    Sapphire may be a key component of Apple's upcoming smart watch, as it could prevent the device from becoming scratched even with heavy use. Many high end luxury watches also use sapphire crystal displays.

    Reports have indicated that GT Advanced has purchased enough sapphire furnace and chamber systems to produce between 100 and 200 million sapphire displays, enough for its entire line of devices should it continue to meet its production timeline.

    Article Link: Sapphire Production Underway in Arizona, Small Quantities Shipped to Apple Partners
  2. Tankmaze macrumors 68000


    Mar 7, 2012
    Sapphire screen for the iPhone 6 would be awesome!!
    definitely one step further than the competition.
  3. goobot macrumors 603


    Jun 26, 2009
    long island NY
    iWatch production was said to be started too right? So obviously this may be for that.
  4. WhoDaKat macrumors 6502

    May 20, 2006
    Small quantities shipped makes sense. Thats the small batch of iWatches they are producing right now.
  5. firedept macrumors 603


    Jul 8, 2011
    Sapphire will be a good thing for the iWatch. My teenage son has put his good watch, which has a sapphire face in it, through the ringer and it has not had any scratches appear yet. I think a teenager would be a pretty good test, especially a rough one.

    Not sure how it would stand up in a phone though as a that is a large piece of sapphire and even though sapphire is pretty hard, I wonder if it would not become brittle. Time will tell how Apple is going to use it. Pretty sure the watch will be first though.
  6. TheAppleFairy macrumors 68000


    Mar 28, 2013
    The Clinton Archipelago unfortunately
    Same here I have a few watches with Sapphire crystal faces and one I have worn daily for nearly 11 years and the face looks great.

  7. SCOLANATOR macrumors 6502a


    Jul 3, 2013
    Have an Omega Seamaster Professional with a sapphire crystal display, like the other poster said, mine has been through it as well and hasn't a single scratch.
    Although I know sapphire is great at not scratching it is bad at shattering. Hence the reason the 'moon watch' Speedmaster uses a Hesalite display instead of sapphire, as shattering in zero-g would create deadly shards :).
  8. Nunyabinez macrumors 65816


    Apr 27, 2010
    Provo, UT
    I don't see any need for a sapphire display on the phone. The camera lens and the home button where a scratch could lead to failure, yes. But not for the screen itself.

    I keep my phone in my left pocket and can't visibly detect any scratches. Granted I keep my keys in the other pocket, but the gorilla glass seems quite suitable to me.

    I think sapphire will be the display of the iWatch since it is bound to "take a licking" with it being attached to your wrist.
  9. Michaelgtrusa macrumors 604


    Oct 13, 2008
    Everywhere And Nowhere
  10. ForzaJuve macrumors member

    Jul 20, 2009
    Is it just me or they seem to be cutting it very close to the deadline with the sapphire production. I mean if the majority of the furnaces still need to be installed and then they probably need to hire and train workers and start full-scale production. If anything goes wrong between now and the next 3 months the whole thing can be severely delayed.
  11. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Nice watch. The description says the sapphire crystal is anti-glare on both sides. This can only mean we will see sapphire retina displays. Might be a touch pricy for the 99 percenters... alas, those who think this is for a watch are likely correct.
  12. Squilly macrumors 68020


    Nov 17, 2012
    My theory: sapphire will be used for iWatch this year and full production will ramp up for the iPhone 6S next year for Sapphire in the 6S.
  13. proline macrumors 6502a

    Nov 18, 2012
    Same here. However, what you are missing is two-fold:
    1) The threat of scratches makes millions of people put their screens behind stupid 'screen protectors' that distort the sharpness of the display and dull the colors. This could let those people throw away the plastic films.

    2) Even non-visible scratches degrade the quality a bit. Compare the phone in your pocket to a brand new one in the store. Side by side you can see a difference.

    Well, here you are just plain wrong. Even if Apple makes an iWatch, it will sell in limited quantities initially- all products start slow. The capacity of Apple's plant is far, far, too much for any new product. The sapphire must be intended for an existing product- ie. the iPhone.
  14. spinedoc77 macrumors G3


    Jun 11, 2009
    I've worn my Rolex for at least 12 years, I wear it night and day, during heavy construction, etc. I can't count the number of times I've scraped it hard against a wall or corner. Dropped it, etc. I cannot see the faintest hint of a scratch on it. Sapphire can't come soon enough to the cell phone industry, I can't wait. Just seeing how thin the ip6 is purported to be, and if it has sapphire well I'll be first in line. Same for the watch.
  15. ionjohn macrumors 65816


    Jun 5, 2013
    There's always room for improvement, keep that in mind ;)


    Dude you're making go mad haha I can't wait for i6!
  16. Nalmond92 macrumors regular

    Apr 26, 2013
    Placing my bets

    I'm placing my bets on the new iphone not getting sapphire screen for the following reasons:

    There won't be enough sapphire to meet the demand of iPhone
    It's untested in a phone
    Apple want to test it on the iWatch
    Small amounts shipped to partners and a small batch off watches supposedly being made right now
    iPhone 6S(apphire) after it has had some real world testing through the iWatch
  17. wizard macrumors 68040

    May 29, 2003
    Maybe not when it comes to iPhone screens.

    I'm thinking that the first big thing is that the 25% price reduction is a big draw for Apple. That would cause Apple to drop current suppliers.

    The second issue is that we don't exactly know what the production make up is like. That is the size of the crystals being produced. A good portion of production could be going to support Touch ID across all products. To us the number of furnaces sounds like a lot but these crystals grow slowly, so I can see several lines dedicated just to Touch ID sensors.

    Finally I'm left with the impression that iPhone screens might exceed or stress the maximum crystal size these machines can produce. Even a 4.4" screen requires a relatively large piece of crystal to derive the glass from.

    Finally who here thinks Apple will work the phrase "transparent Aluminum" into their marketing?
  18. KdParker macrumors 601


    Oct 1, 2010
    These rumors....

    Give us Parts/boxes....give us something to be excited about.
  19. doelcm82 macrumors 68040


    Feb 11, 2012
    Florida, USA
    Aren't you going to look a bit silly wearing two watches? Or will you quit wearing the Rolex night and day once you have an Apple watch?
  20. mbh macrumors 6502

    Jul 18, 2002
    Watch this video. The sapphire boules are large compared to a phone.
  21. SCOLANATOR macrumors 6502a


    Jul 3, 2013
    I imagine it will come to the iPhone at some point.
    The anti-glare works great on my watch, although produces a very strange effect when viewing it under water.
  22. Nunyabinez macrumors 65816


    Apr 27, 2010
    Provo, UT
    I'm more than happy for there to be improvements, as long as they are actual improvements and not adding unnecessary cost or delays.

    If adding sapphire means when I go to buy my next phone I have to wait for weeks because they couldn't make enough, I will be pissed because what I have works just fine.

    It was like the glass back on the 4S. It was not an improvement because anytime my phone was on the least uneven surface it went sliding onto the floor.

    If sapphire gets rid of scratches (that I'm not seeing anyway) and makes the screen brittle so that it cracks when I drop it (and I will drop it) then it is no improvement.
  23. mrxak macrumors 68000

    Apr 16, 2004
    Drifting through space in a broken escape pod
    I'm not the person you were asking, but I own more than one watch. I won't wear two at the same time, but I sure as heck will wear different watches on different days or occasions.

    I have no idea if I'm getting an iWatch. I actually kind of doubt I will since I rather like analog time pieces. It does make sense for sapphire to be for a watch, though, if that watch actually has a screen, and isn't just a little band you wear that talks to your phone. Assuming the iWatch has a face, that face had better be sapphire, because watches do get banged around a heck of a lot more than phones do. It's not hard to protect your phone when it's in your hand and spends most of it's time on a table or in a pocket, but it'd be a huge pain to have to constantly worry where you're swinging your arm 24/7.


    The boules are huge, but the actual usable crystal comes in little pieces inside the big boules. There are always imperfections in nature and in a factory, and getting big enough slices of that boule in enough volume to make economic sense is something we've never seen before. It's possible Apple has figured it out, and the volume is there to support a product line as massive as the iPhone. But that is a hypothesis with no evidence.
  24. WardC macrumors 68030


    Oct 17, 2007
    Fort Worth, TX
    I thought they were mining all the Sapphire from this beach in the Virgin Islands:


  25. mrxak macrumors 68000

    Apr 16, 2004
    Drifting through space in a broken escape pod
    Yeah, I think Apple is smart enough to realize what materials make the most sense for which products. It makes sense to optimize for scratch resistance for watches. That's something every watch maker has done for a very very long time, because watches get into situations where they can scratch quite often. It makes sense to optimize for shatter resistance for phones, because rather than scratching their screens against things, people are much more likely just to drop them, knock them off tables, etc., since they aren't attached to your wrist. If people are really concerned about scratches, Apple is happy to sell a nice screen protector at a healthy margin.

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