Some of the most intriguing rumors circulating about the next-generation iPhone models are regarding Apple’s use of sapphire screens. Apple, like most other mobile device makers, currently uses Corning’s proprietary Gorilla Glass for its mobile device displays. However, sapphire is a harder, more scratch-resistant material that could give Apple’s devices a unique premium feature that will further set it apart from its high-end smartphone competitors.
While Apple already uses sapphire as a protective covering for the Touch ID fingerprint scanner and the iPhone’s camera lens, the company’s significant investment in sapphire manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies suggests that Apple’s future plans for sapphire will extend beyond small component coverings. However, due to the expense and manufacturing difficulties associated with the mass production of sapphire, some analysts have expressed doubts that Apple will widely implement sapphire screen covers in the two upcoming iPhone 6 models that are expected to be released in 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch screen sizes.
These doubts were reiterated in a recent report from The Wall Street Journal that cited unnamed “people familiar with the matter” who stated that “Apple is considering using sapphire screens in more expensive models of the two new, larger iPhones it plans to debut this fall, if it can get enough of the material.” However, PTT Research analyst Matt Margolis, who is well known for his investigative research on Apple’s partnership with GT Advanced Technologies, believes Apple has secured a larger supply of sapphire than most industry watchers realize.
“I expect Apple to cover as many iPhone 6 phones as possible this fall including both size variations,” Margolis told Wall St. Cheat Sheet. “If a shortage of sapphire occurs, it is likely Apple would use sapphire cover screens on the higher priced models in both size variations first to maximize margins and profits. However, at this point, I expect sapphire to cover a majority if not all of the iPhone 6 units sold in 2014.”