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iPhone 6 Sapphire Display To Be Virtually Indestructible

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News Posted: Mon, Feb 10 2014 12:09 PM
Forget about spending money on scratch-proof screen protectors and bulky cases, Apple's next iPhone device might end up being tough as nails. Nothing is carved in stone, of course, though it appears Apple is wanting to outfit the iPhone 6 with a scratch-proof sapphire crystal display. It would be much tougher than current displays, which are prone to shatter and crack when dropped.

Apple last year inked a deal with GT Advanced to open a manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona. At the time, an Apple spokeswoman said the new plant would be used to "make components for Apple products," adding that it would also run on 100 percent renewable energy.

According to 9to5Mac, Apple will build sapphire crystal components at its new plants, and now just for the Touch ID fingerprint readers and caps for camera sensors. Based on leaked documents and import/export records, Apple wants to build full-fledged displays with the sapphire crystal material.

Broken iPhone
Image Source: Flickr (DaveOnFlickr)

"Lowering manufacturing and fabrication costs of sapphire is a key driver for accelerating the adoption of its use in new market segments such as cover screens for smartphones and mobile devices. GT Advanced Technologies is working with key downstream technology providers to optimize fabrication processes and technologies to lower the cost of sapphire cover screen material," leaked documents detailing inspection tool components explain.

The machines GT Advanced ordered will allow them to inspect the sapphire crystal components to make sure they meet Apple's quality standards. According to 9to5Mac, the machines in question are not for small pieces of sapphire crystal that could be used for the Home button or camera, but are designed to process several slabs of screen covers.

An obvious downside to sapphire crystal is cost. It's about 10 times more expensive than Corning's Gorilla Glass, which is why today's displays don't use sapphire crystal. However, citing a MIT Technology Review article, Time points out that GT Advanced found an alternative that involves using pure sapphire to laminate an ultra-thin layer of sapphire with another, cheaper material.
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HanyangXu replied on Mon, Feb 10 2014 1:27 PM

If I recall correctly, wasn't the Ubuntu Edge going to have a Sapphire display also?

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nope

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Until I can add a SD card or talk on the phone and look at the web the iPhone isn't in the running for me.

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I'll believe it when I see it. Considering around 40% of iPhone users are walking around with shattered screens. Not to mention the fact that iPhone users have spent $6 billion on broken phones... I'll happily stick with my Android phone

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BurntChz replied on Mon, Feb 10 2014 1:53 PM

You can already talk on the phone and surf the web using an iPhone if you have AT&T's network (and maybe Verizon's LTE network - I'm not positive). But I agree, the expandable memory card is long over due.

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Sapphire crystal isn't "virtually indestructible", its just more resistant to scratches than Gorilla Glass. Drop it from a height and it's gonna shatter diligently just like any other display.

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lol lets go to the factory and test this haha

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rwalesa replied on Mon, Feb 10 2014 6:49 PM

I am happy with my Gorilla Glass at one tenth the cost. I had my iPhone 4 (no S) for 3 yrs with a case protector, all good. As deathdemon89 indicated Sapphire will still crack and if you have ever replaced Sapphire watch crystal, you know the cost is more. So lets look at the business model, people don't replace scratched screen, but they do replace broken ones and now at 5 to 10 time the cost even at a lower cracking/breaking rate, Cha-Ching Apple.

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sevags replied on Mon, Feb 10 2014 7:31 PM

Forget Gorilla glass! At 10x the price I would gladly pay the mark up! How much does the screen cost? if a normal screen costs apple $2? they wouldn't be charging 10x for the phone, just the glass! and that small markup is still way less than the repair cost if you break your screen so again it is well worth it! Resale value will also be high as the phone will be in much better condition when it is sold 1-2 years later.

I am NOT happy with Gorilla Glass. Bring on the age of Sapphire!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Yeah and the price to match, get an android phone

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Joel H replied on Mon, Feb 10 2014 11:02 PM

I really don't like Gorilla Glass much, either. The problem is, this stuff is going to be even worse.

Yes, Sapphire is extremely scratch-resistant. Problem is, it's far more *brittle*. So, scratches? It'll shrug them off. Drop it? *crunch.*

Personally, I'd much rather deal with a few scratches than a broken screen, particularly when Apple's warranty doesn't cover screens unless you pay extra. And Sapphire will make the shattered-screen problem *worse*, not better, unless Apple has come up with an unknown method of buffering or protecting the display.

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basroil replied on Tue, Feb 11 2014 2:04 AM

Sapphire better than gorilla glass? guess you need to watch http://www.corninggorillaglass.com/gorilla-channel/Corning%C2%AE-Gorilla%C2%AE-Glass-vs.-Sapphire

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basroil replied on Tue, Feb 11 2014 2:14 AM

"At 10x the price I would gladly pay the mark up! How much does the screen cost? if a normal screen costs apple $2? "

It's about $3 per screen for gorilla glass, so sapphire would be $30. Doesn't sound like much for a "$500" phone, but you need to remember that $500 is actually only $180. That means the new base price would be ~$210, which means you're looking at an extra $80 bucks to the final cost of the phone.

" that small markup is still way less than the repair cost if you break your screen so again it is well worth it! "

Sapphire is abrasion resistant, not impact resistant. Like diamonds, you can take a steel file to it and just scratch off the file without damaging the glass, but take a hammer to it and you'll turn the screen to powder.

You can see the effects of impact stress in the image above, it clearly shows how the iphone design is flawed when it comes to stress concentration, and this glass will need repairs at roughly the same rate.

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Sapphire is already known to be less durable then Corning® Gorilla® Glass in impact tests.

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Wonder if Corning ever thought of doing a laminate glass (Gorilla Glass is one) with the top outer layer made of Sapphire.

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sevags replied on Tue, Feb 11 2014 2:50 PM

barsol; ummmm, what? If Gorilla Glass is $3 so like you said Sapphire would be $30, where are you getting an extra $80!?!?!? If an iPhone 6 will be $200 with gorilla glass, then it would be $227 with Sapphire Glass, that is only $27 more than the current screen, a price I would gladly play!!!!!!!!!!!

Also you and InfinityzeN1 should read the article again. HH states that there is a possibility that the entire screen is not made up sapphire but perhaps a top layer of sapphire and a bottom later of a more flexible glass, OR that the screen could be made up of several layers of sapphire also making it more flexible. In the end this all sounds like great news!!!!! The industry as a whole will move towards sapphire in the coming years so better remove the misinformation about sapphire out of your heads. 

I am a big watch guy and own more watches then I should. They all have either Sapphire crystal or Mineral glass. Guess what one is more durable? Not only does sapphire crystal scratch WAYYYYYYY less than the mineral glass, they have also never chipped!!! While all of my mineral crystal watches chip on the outside edges of the glass next to the bezel. When my mineral crystal watches start becoming too scratched or shipped I change it out to a sapphire crystal. Sapphire is considered brittle compared to some glass NOT because it more easily breaks! but because it does not flex as far as glass does before it breaks! Yet it takes a lot more force to flex sapphire enough to watch it turn brittle.

 

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