Whenever a smartphone is released, there are entities on the web that like to pit these devices against one another. SiliconANGLE is of course, one of those said entities, but the only difference is we don’t harm these devices. For those who do, they often find that the iPhone’s screen is not as durable as those found in say, a Samsung device. iPhone’s can easily get cracked or scratched, but that may soon change if Apple builds its next iPhones with sapphire crystal screen covers.
Last year, Apple and GT Advance Technologies struck a deal to open a facility in Mesa, Arizona, that’s dedicated to the production of sapphire crystal components. For those unfamiliar with what sapphire crystal is, it’s the same material that Apple uses in the camera sensor of some of its iDevices, most recently seen in the iPhone 5S’ Touch ID.
A report from 9to5Mac states that Apple may be looking into using the sapphire crystal material for its next-generation iPhone displays and screen covers, as GTAT has ramped up its production of the said material. The report adds that GTAT has ordered Intego Sirius Sapphire Display Inspection Tool components, which will allow the company to ensure the sapphire crystal displays it produces are of the highest quality. These machines are for checking display-grade components, not small components for home buttons or cameras, and can handle several slabs of sapphire crystals screen covers simultaneously.
Aside from the Intego Sirius Sapphire Display Inspection Tool, GTAT has also ramped up orders for other components, such as furnaces, chambers and graphite. The furnace and chamber work together to transform sapphire crystal to boules, which look like large hockey pucks. The boules will then be re-processed, polished and cut into the shapes of the display.
The report stated that GTAT already has 518 of these units, with 420 more on the way that have not yet been assembled. Analyst Matt Margolis says that the first 518 units could already build between 103 million and 116 million ~5-inch displays per year, and the incoming machines could add 84 million to 94 million screen covers. As for the granite, that’s the material needed to heat up the furnace, and GTAT has ordered 100 tons of it.
There’s also a good chance that we might see sapphire crystal in more of Apple’s products, like it’s iPads, or even newer ones, if CEO Tim Cook’s response as to whether the world will see new product categories this year comes true.
“There will be new categories. We’re not ready to talk about it, but we’re working on some really great stuff,” Cook said, adding that anyone “reasonable” will see that what they are working on falls into a new category.
It wasn’t really clear if we will see an entirely new product that falls in a new category, or if one of its existing products will see a huge makeover that would make it fall into a new category. What comes to mind is the reinvention of the iPad to turn it into a Mac hybrid, or the reinvention of the iPhone that might turn it into an ‘iPhablet’.