There are currently a lot of rumours about sapphire glass, the type of glass that might replace the gorilla glass on future Apple’s iPhones. Some of them are true, others are just marketing strategies meant to capture our attention. Read below to find out more about what the new iPhone 6 will be made out of: gorilla glass or sapphire crystal?
Rumours say that Apple will switch to a sapphire crystal coating for the new iPhone 6. The sapphire crystal will be produced by GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) in Arizona, and even though it is very expensive, it is said that the new production techniques will reduce these costs.
Last week, Corning Glass senior vice president, Tony Tripeny was asked at a Morgan Stanley conference about Apple’s plan to use sapphire crystal.
James Fawcett: "So we mentioned Sapphire and obviously there is one large handset and device maker that people suspect maybe looking at Sapphire," Fawcett said, assumedly alluding to Apple. "And at least from a Corning perspective, [what are] the puts and takes of Sapphire versus glass?"
Tripeny’s company produces Gorilla Glass, so obviously his answer shows that he does not like it that much, and it is not as protective as it should be:
“When we look at it, we see a lot of disadvantages of Sapphire versus Gorilla Glass. It is about 10 times more expensive. It is about 1.6 times heavier. It's environmentally unfriendly. It takes about 100 times more energy to generate a Sapphire crystal than it does glass. It transmits less light which...means either dimmer devices or shorter battery life. It continues to break. I think while it's a scratch resistant product it still breaks and our testing says that Gorilla Glass [can take] about 2.5 times more pressure that it can take...Sapphire on. So when we look at it, we think from an overall industry and trend that is not attractive in consumer electronics.”
“The formation takes about 4,000 times longer than Gorilla Glass at a significantly higher melting temperature. Its hardness makes machining more difficult and costly. Then the cost per unit increases exponentially because when you have defects in boundaries in the crystal growth process, you essentially cut them out. And so unlike glass, where we have developed technologies so that we can have [a] very large pristine pieces of glass, when you have that on crystals, what you end up doing is always having a yield issue. So it is really those items that make things more expensive.”
Apple doesn’t think that, because last year in November announced a $578 million partnership with GTAT, which will facilitate Apple with a large amount of sapphire crystal for future devices (iPhone 6 and iWatch, to begin with). What Apple didn’t clarify is if it will use the sapphire crystal for some parts of the iPhone, or will cover the whole iPhone screen with it.
Nowadays, Apple uses sapphire crystal to protect the iPhone 5s' rear camera lens and home button. Apple used sapphire crystal for the first time in the iPhone 5, to cover the back camera.
There is only one product that Apple and GT can produce at this moment. And that product is the iPhone. Apple believes in sapphire crystal and assured that it is ready for big production and an outstanding upgrade of their devices. All these being said, I am sure that Apple prepares a real surprise that will mesmerise us in September.
I can’t wait to see the new iPhone 6 and test the new sapphire glass technology!