Will the iPhone 6 Be the First Sapphire Smartphone?

Source: Apple.comAlthough Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) latest iPhone models have only been on the market for a little over two months, industry watchers are already speculating about the specifications of the so-called “iPhone 6.” While many of the iPhone 6 rumors are centered on an increased screen size, others rumors are focused on the material that Apple’s next iPhone screens might be made from.

According to unnamed sources cited by the International Business Times, Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6 may feature a screen made out of an extremely hard and scratch-resistant material known as sapphire. As previously reported by Seeking Alpha, Apple recently entered into a partnership with sapphire maker GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT). As part of the deal, Apple provided GT Advanced Technologies with a $578 million prepayment.

Although Apple currently only uses sapphire as a protective cover for the Touch ID fingerprint scanner and the iPhone’s camera lens, the company’s investment in GT Advanced Technologies’ mass production facilities has sparked speculation that the company may soon greatly expand its use of this material. According to GT Advanced Technologies, Apple’s investment “accelerated the development of its next generation, large capacity ASF [Advanced Sapphire Furnaces] furnaces to deliver low cost, high volume manufacturing of sapphire material.”