Among the many rumors circulating regarding the upcoming iPhone 6 is the idea that the phone will feature a sapphire crystal screen. In May, 9to5Mac reported that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) had partnered with GT Advanced (NASDAQ:GTAT) and prepared a new plant in Arizona to manufacture sapphire displays for the much-anticipated new model of the iPhone, putting the appropriate furnaces into place and making shipments of sapphire to China, where the phones are being manufactured.
In one of the more recent supposed leaks, YouTube user Marques Brownlee tests the durability of what’s reportedly a sapphire iPhone 6 screen, bending it under his foot, taking a knife to it, and scratching it with his keys, all to it to no effect. He and others commenting on the “durability test” declare the screen “indestructible” and “unbreakable,” though of course he couldn’t try what might be the most important test — dropping the phone — since he only had a screen. But it’s expected that a sapphire screen could solve one of the most notorious problems with the iPhone: the prevalence of broken screens, which shatter when dropped on a hard surface. Better impact resistance, more than scratch resistance, would represent a benefit to consumers.
The screen that Brownlee shows in the video is “paper thin,” and shows no color distortion, in addition to being able to withstand a lot of abuse. The thinness and clarity are good signs, given recent concerns that sapphire would be thicker and less transmissive of light than the Corning Gorilla Glass used in current iPhones.