What's the deal with sapphire glass, or is it all just hype?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by h4lp m3, Jun 27, 2014.

  1. h4lp m3 macrumors 6502

    Jun 29, 2011
    New Orleans
    What's the benefit of using sapphire glass on an iPhone?
  2. T5BRICK macrumors G3


    Aug 3, 2006
    It's more scratch resistant than regular glass.
  3. Newtons Apple macrumors Core

    Newtons Apple

    Mar 12, 2014
    Jacksonville, Florida
    I do not think it is all hype as they purchased a huge amount of equipment to make sapphire glass. What they are going to do with it, we do not know. Right now it covers only the current iPhone's camera, some think the whole screen will be made out of the material.

    One of the posters in this forum think they might make the entire outer case out of sapphire. That is not going to happen.
  4. goobot macrumors 603


    Jun 26, 2009
    long island NY
    It covers the home button too.
  5. Julien macrumors G4


    Jun 30, 2007
  6. kingalexthe1st macrumors 6502


    Apr 13, 2013
    Sapphire is second in hardness only to diamond. So basically, unless you attack it with an engagement ring it will remain scuff-free. This is good for a camera lens, for obvious reasons, and I guess the new touch ID benefits from a smooth surface to read your fingerprints from. If Apple were to make the entire front screen from sapphire then it would certainly add to the premium feel of it, being scratch-free and all, but it would be expensive. So it's not entirely hype, but I'm sure it will certainly be used in the marketing.

  7. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012

    I believe that was a "what if" thread not that he/she believed it actually would be entirely sapphire.
  8. CoMoMacUser macrumors 6502a

    Jun 28, 2012
    They'll use it to make a dome over the new campus.
  9. Yakibomb macrumors 6502


    May 13, 2014
    Cape Town
    Yes but at what cost. True it might be much harder than Gorilla Glass so less prone to scratches, but that hardness comes at a cost. The harder a material is the easier it shatters. This isn't really an issue when used in small areas such as to cover the camera lens or touchID, but when covering the entire screen is covered I think issues may arise. But we never know, :apple: may have found away around this :rolleyes:
  10. Powrie macrumors 6502

    Sep 14, 2012
    Have you heard of Mohs hardness scale ?


    Well Sapphire is a very hard material that scales in just under Diamond.

    So that makes it much harder then Glass. But just because something is hard does not mean it wont break. Sapphire will still shatter.

    Its major pro is that it is very resistant to scratches because its so hard. And its slightly less prone to shattering then glass.

    So its not unbreakable, but it will be scratch free.
  11. cnotes2019 Suspended

    Aug 17, 2013
  12. GalvaJ macrumors regular


    Oct 28, 2011
    Having a screen that will most likely not scratch over its life time is a waste of time?

    I hope Apple does this. Knock on wood, I've never dropped a phone or broken a screen but I have had a little scratch on my screen once that did annoy me even though I could barely see it. I'll definitely enjoy having a sapphire crystal display on my next iPhone.
  13. ET iPhone Home macrumors 68040

    ET iPhone Home

    Oct 5, 2011
    Orange County, California USA
    Sapphire crystal is the cover of choice for premium watches. It is the most expensive type of crystal and is three times harder than mineral crystal. It is made of an extremely durable synthetic material that makes it shatterproof and scratch resistant (not scratchproof). Some have a non-reflective film to prevent glare.
  14. Septembersrain Contributor


    Dec 14, 2013
    I wonder if it'll only be on the 5.5 inch variant?
  15. thelookingglass macrumors 68000

    Apr 27, 2005
    I'd always thought that most scratches were on the oleophobic coating and not the glass itself. Unless they find a way to somehow infuse the coating into the sapphire glass, I'm still skeptical of what benefits this sapphire will have over gorilla glass.
  16. WestCoastUser83 macrumors newbie

    Jun 17, 2010
    Does anyone else remember the 1986 Star Trek IV movie the "Voyage Home."

    There's a scene in it about the invention of "Transparent Aluminum" which is basically sapphire.


    "...It was notably mentioned in the 1986 film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Panels of ultra-thick acrylic glass were needed to construct water tanks within their ship's cargo bay for containing two humpback whales and tons of water. However, the Enterprise crew, without money appropriate to the period, found it necessary to barter for the required materials. Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott exchanges the chemical formula for transparent aluminum for the needed 20th century plexiglass equivalent from a manufacturer called Plexicorp. When Dr. Leonard McCoy informs Scott that giving Dr. Nichols the formula is altering the future, the engineer responds, "Why? How do we know he didn't invent the thing?"...The substance is described as being as transparent as glass while possessing the strength and density of high-grade aluminum...It should also be noted that sapphire, which is transparent and widely used in commercial and industrial settings, is nothing more than an aluminum oxide."
  17. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    I do remember that.

    However thinking about it now. Did they have to use the 20th century CLEAR equivalent? Could they have used something stronger and not transparent to hold the humpbacks (steel) or was there a reason they needed it to be like an aquarium on the enterprise?
  18. zipa macrumors 65816

    Feb 19, 2010
    It would be somewhat more scratch resistant, but the downsides would probably not be worth it for the majority of people.
  19. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    Might as well call it scratch proof if you are going with shatterproof.

    The crystal of any premium watch including synthetic sapphire is far from shatterproof. Its also one of the most common repairs of a watchmaker, synthetic sapphire obviously being more expensive of a repair then mineral or acrylic crystals.

    As a fathers day gift 5-6 years ago I had the crystal replaced in his Blancpain. It was ridiculously expensive compared to what I was expecting (I shattered the sapphire crystal in my Tag years prior) but it was due to the thickness or so I was told.

    Regardless its certainly not shatterproof and I wouldn't expect the sapphire on an iPhone to be toooo premium at its price point. The cost to replace the crystal in that Blancpain was just short of an unlock iPhone....for just the crystal (plus watchmakers labor which isn't cheap either).
  20. zipa macrumors 65816

    Feb 19, 2010
    I'd say that material cost was 5% at most, probably a lot less. Labor costs, obviously, but the absolute majority of the price comes from "because we can". It's a luxury item, repairs are going to cost a luxurious amount as well. It's a bit like paying $300 for a nav unit for your Skoda, but then getting fleeced for $2000 to get that exact same unit factory installed in your new Audi.
  21. sixrom macrumors 6502a

    Nov 13, 2013
    Apple thrives on headlines, recognition and bragging rights. That's what this is about. Oh sure it's got a certain value and makes the phone somewhat more durable, but that's debatable vs the price it adds to the cost of the phone.

    iPhones are largely a vanity purchase. People who want to show off and be seen with them. A status symbol to some, even though they're a dime a dozen here in California. An expensive Sapphire lens & display would enhance its status. A very important consideration for soccer moms, rich old ladies, and others who get their identity from possessions.
  22. ET iPhone Home macrumors 68040

    ET iPhone Home

    Oct 5, 2011
    Orange County, California USA
    I'm from O.C. and let me tell you those Orange County Housewives you see on the Bravo Channel is point on. Every item they carry with them down to an iPhone and their 36DD's has got to be a status symbol. "Look at me, Look at me."; It's nauseating.
  23. cynics, Jun 28, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2014

    cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    Oh I have no doubt the majority was labor. But I also doubt Apple will use the same quality of synthetic sapphire as high end watch manufacturers do. Plus those repairs even existing show that sapphire can break.

    And while I'm not a physicist, a small watch crystal should be less likely to shatter when compared to a larger pane of sapphire on a phone.
  24. sixrom macrumors 6502a

    Nov 13, 2013
    Well said. :)

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