In a move that will not help to change Samsung’s (SSNLF.PK) reputation as an Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) imitator, the Korea-based company is rumored to be exploring the use of sapphire for its next-generation of mobile phones, according to insider industry sources cited by Korea’s ETNews. The sources noted that Samsung and fellow Korean multinational LG previously considered using sapphire for its devices last year but abandoned the idea due to the prohibitive cost of the material. According to ETNews, sapphire is ten times more expensive than conventional display materials.
However, both companies are now revisiting the material following the widely reported rumors that Apple’s iPhone 6 will feature a sapphire display. While Apple currently uses Corning’s (NYSE:GLW) proprietary Gorilla Glass for its mobile device displays, sapphire is a thinner and more scratch-resistant material.
Apple’s interest in sapphire as a display material first came to light when it was revealed that the iPhone maker had made a $578 million investment in a sapphire manufacturing facility run by GT Advanced Technologies (NASDAQ:GTAT) last year. Import and export documents later uncovered by 9to5Mac’s Mark Gurman and analyst Matt Margolis offered additional evidence that Apple was planning on expanding its use of sapphire beyond its current use as a protective cover for the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and the iPhone’s camera lens. According to a regulatory filing that GT Advanced Technologies made with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the “sapphire goods” produced at the plant will be exclusively supplied to Apple for its consumer electronic products.