At one point, it was rumored that Apple would expand its use of sapphire crystal for the display of its smartphones, but now it appears that after having explore sapphire crystal, the Cupertino, California iPhone-maker has found the material unsuitable for its needs. Sapphire crystal has been known for its scratch resistant properties and is largely used on luxury watches and luxury smartphones made by former Nokia subsidiary Vertu.
In an interview with Swiss publication Tages-Anzeiger, Vertu COO Perry Oosting revealed that Apple had been exploring sapphire glass for various displays. Apple had gone as far as recruiting Vertu employees to work on its prokect, and Mac Rumors is reporting that at least two Vertu employees left their British employer to work for Apple in the last year
However, given the cost of sapphire crystal and the limited yield and supply, Apple found that the material was not suitable for its needs. For the material to be used in the iPhone, a larger yield would be needed.
Apple does use sapphire crystal in a more limited capacity on the iPhone 5. To highlight the camera, Apple is using the material as a covering the rear-facing camera on its flagship smartphone.
Though unspecified, Apple has been using Corning’s strengthened Gorilla Glass for its iPhone models, which offers a scratch resistant property. More recently, Corning has been releasing a video campaign to highlight how its Gorilla Glass is more effective than sapphire crystal against scratches and impacts, noting that Gorilla Glass is lighter, thinner, stronger, and cheaper to manufacture in large quantities.
So while your luxury watch may contain sapphire crystal, don’t expect Apple to release a luxury iPhone with a sapphire crystal Retina Display any time soon.