Sapphire screens for bigger iPhone, iWatch now heading off to Apple factories

Sapphire screens for bigger iPhone, iWatch now heading off to Apple factories

Summary: Apple could be reserving sapphire screens for expensive iPhones and the iWatch.

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TOPICS: Mobility, Apple, iPhone
24

Apple is planning to use synthetic sapphire for the screens of higher-end iPhone models, as well the display for its yet-to-be-released smartwatch, the Wall Street Journal reports.

According to the publication, Apple is "considering" using sapphire screens for "more expensive models" of two new larger display iPhones and its long-rumoured iWatch. The idea behind using synthetic sapphire is to create a screen more resistant to both cracking and scratches,.

Taking sapphire to iPhone and iWatch screens will extend the material's use beyond its current function on Apple devices of shielding the iPhone 5S' Touch ID home button. Rumours of Apple's plans to use the material more widely have been circulating for the past year due to its tighter relationship with component supplier GT Advanced Technologies. Apple has reportedly acquired enough crystal furnaces to make up to 200 million five-inch displays.

According to the WSJ report, the first of the sapphire screens developed by the pair will begin rolling out of Apple's new manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona this month.

It's thought Apple will take the wraps off a 5.5-inch display iPhone, expected to be called the iPhone 6, as well as a 4.7-inch display device this September.

However, according to the report, the plan to use sapphire in the displays on phones hinges on Apple's ability to get to enough of the material to meet production demands. And given those constraints, the material may be reserved for more expensive iPhones.

As others have noted, if the report is correct, it could spell a pretty radical pricing strategy overhaul for Apple's key product. The company has historically set price points based on storage capacity, and offered multiple generations of devices at different prices, but hasn't charged a premium for different materials on the same model.

Analysts quoted in the report believe that sapphire screens would introduce a new risk for the company. On the one hand, the tougher material could mean fewer shattered screens that need replacing. On the other, shortages of the material could throw a spanner in the works of Apple's distribution schedule, creating shortages during peak demand.

Whether Apple ultimately does offer a premium-priced line of its new phones will all be revealed next month: the latest iPhone is expected to be released on 9 September.

Read more on the iPhone 6

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iPhone

Liam Tung

About Liam Tung

Liam Tung is an Australian business technology journalist living a few too many Swedish miles north of Stockholm for his liking. He gained a bachelors degree in economics and arts (cultural studies) at Sydney's Macquarie University, but hacked (without Norse or malicious code for that matter) his way into a career as an enterprise tech, security and telecommunications journalist with ZDNet Australia. These days Liam is a full time freelance technology journalist who writes for several publications.

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Talkback

24 comments
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  • Apple Care

    Apple care makes millions gouging customers for screen repairs, because as we know iPhone's constantly break. I suspect the charge for repairs will increase. I have yet to see anyone with an iPhone make it to contract term without some issue. Nokia Lumia phones are far more robust. There is a youtube video of a guy using a Lumia 920 as a hammer. Now thats a tough phone!
    Sean Foley
    • Re: Apple Care

      Hello Sean.....now you've met someone that has made it for 2 contract terms (2 yrs. ea.) without any issues with my iPhones.
      Furthermore....none of my friends have had issues either. Why on earth would you need to use your phone as a hammer anyhow???
      tacona
      • It's a want, not a need.

        "...Why on earth would you need to use your phone as a hammer anyhow?"

        It would be nice to have a phone with an extra toughness that other phones don't have. Think of the bets you could win in bars! :)
        SlimSam
        • Android Kyocera Brigadier already is here

          Again, Apple is behu the curve.

          Brigadier is one though puppy.
          Uralbas
          • Apple can't innovative fast enough

            No matter how much money they have. They week be second, third or worse when it comes to innovation.

            Kyocera Brigadier already offers sapphire for Android.

            At this stage it really doesn't matter if Apple did it does not, al they would be doing is catching up.
            Uralbas
    • Say What?!

      There's a youtube video of a guy blending a Lumina too! So what?

      Perhaps there's data on out-of-the-box phone failures and I'll bet Apple isn't in the top 5. Three contract terms for me with absolutely no issues with iPhones.
      Gr8Music
    • Ignorance is bliss?

      I've owned a number of iPhones since version 1.0. None of them broke in any way. All are still being used. Your knowledge of the iPhone is just pathetic, but somehow that doesn't stop you from talking about it constantly. It's better to have people wonder if you're a moron, because you're quiet, than it is to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
      BillDem
    • Sean Foley = Owl:Net ?

      Stylistic similarities are so similar that I'm beginning to wonder if these two are actually are one and the same troll.
      S_Deemer
      • Probably

        I think that's a logical conclusion. His Owl name probably has been banned again.

        He goes thru them quite often.
        THavoc
      • Owl:Net and ToddBottom met and had a baby.

        The best (and worst) of both.
        rfoto
        • I Kinda' Miss . . .

          . . . Toddy's constant rants; especially his unrelenting hatred for Steve Jobs. I think that Steve must have fired him early in his and he never got over it. Toddy was fairly intelligent - you can't say that about the owl!
          Gr8Music
      • Dont say that.

        I want to beat OWL:NET to the comments at least one time in my life.
        YTjay
    • no problems here either

      I have honestly never even seen a Windows phone because I do not know Foley or Loverock or Owl. I also tend to use a phone over 3 development cycles and may buy the newest if justifiable or possibly the one before newest. Haven't had a bad apple yet.
      jasona93
    • I've had three iPhones

      and only had an issue with the camera lens in one. It was replaced for free. No
      Apple Care.

      By the way, even if you hate your phone so much that you decide to use it as a hammer, it's best to use the right tool for the job: http://www.bestframinghammers.com/plumb-hammers/
      msalzberg
    • Meh

      AppleCare / Apple customer service does a great job. People usually do not say the same for Samsung's customer service.
      candrsn2112
    • Now you have

      My wife's phone is far past contract, with no problems at all. Most of my friends who have them have the same story. I can only think of 1 that cracked.

      I don't use Apple, so I don't have one, and I don't give a damn about them. I just have to laugh at people that know "everything"
      vermonter
  • Apple Care

    Apple care makes millions gouging customers for screen repairs, because as we know iPhone's constantly break. I suspect the charge for repairs will increase. I have yet to see anyone with an iPhone make it to contract term without some issue. Nokia Lumia phones are far more robust. There is a youtube video of a guy using a Lumia 920 as a hammer. Now thats a tough phone!
    Sean Foley
    • Erroneous

      iPhones do not constantly break. You may be unaware of the J.D. Power satisfaction ratings (as well as others around the world - including South Korea) where the iPhone is consistently rated above other makers. Treated reasonably, the sophisticated devices that are smartphones last for years.

      And, personally, I would rather make calls on an iPhone than a hammer.
      Quidproquorum
      • Ssssshhh

        Please don't use facts on the trolls. It only angers and confuses them...
        THavoc
        • Maybe he's confused because...

          he keeps hitting his head when he puts his hammer to his ear.
          msalzberg