iPhone 6 rumors are looking more like reality with the latest leak of shipments and documents pertaining to the Sapphire facility in Arizona.
For consumers this points to an iPhone 6 with a larger screen that is incredibly robust against damage from scratches and drops. For consumers that spent more than $5.9 billion on damaged iPhones at by the end of 2012, a stronger iPhone isn’t just peace of mind, its money in their pocket.
For months speculation centered on a larger iPhone 6 display to help Apple appeal to users that opted for the Galaxy S4, Note 3 and other competing Android devices with larger screens and a new list of evidence discovered and detailed by Mark Gurman at 9to5Mac may have just revealed part of Apple’s plans for a new iPhone.
The most important part of this report is the indication that Apple and GT Advanced may soon possess the capability to produce 100 to 200 million ~5-inch iPhone display covers.
This is huge as the volume could help offset the cost of Sapphire display covers which the company claimed cost 3-4 times more than Gorilla Glass in a MIT Technology Review article in early 2013. That price could drop with higher quality furnaces and streamlined operations.
In 2013 Apple invested over half a billion dollars in a partnership with GT Advanced Technologies in Arizona. Apple did not come out and say that this investment was for an iPhone 6 with a stronger display, but GT Advanced’s focus on Sapphire production and previous technology demonstrations using Sapphire glass on the iPhone pointed to an iPhone component.
Recently documents detailed Apple fast tracking a ,”a critical new sub-component of Apple Products,” which is likely a Sapphire display for the iPhone 6 that we expect to see later in 2014. This document and other information, also uncovered by Gurman included details pointing to the iPhone or iWatch but did not specially name the products.
According to this new trove of information, Apple and its partner are working on a strong Sapphire display that is very likely a key feature of the rumored iPhone 6. Here’s a look at why this is likely.
- GT Advanced just purchased Sapphire Display Inspection Tools.
- GT Advanced is not free to work with just any company for Sapphire products
- The Company ordered 100 tons of graphite to heat the Sapphire Furnaces
The Sapphire display inspection tool documentation outlined in the report matches with Apple’s desire for what Jony Ive describes as an, “extraordinary level of fit and finish.” According to documentation, “The SIRIUS Slab automated sapphire inspection tool begins a new level of repeatability and performance throughput to the production of sapphire material intended for high volume markets such as mobile and touch screen devices.”
The video above shows the manufacturing process for the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, showcasing the creation of products and high powered cameras matching the best match out of 725 cuts, with variances from product to product measured in microns. If Apple plans to add Sapphire into the iPhone 6, it makes sense that the company would want the highest quality material in that can be manufactured with repeatable quality.
If Apple is able to incorporate the a Sapphire display cover into the iPhone 6, consumers will experience a stronger smartphone that won’t scratch under normal use and from the looks of demos even abnormal use. This new screen should also prove more resilient against drops and other damage that might cause the iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s screen to break.
In addition to a stronger surface, this could help Apple shave the iPhone 6 thickness nearly a millimeter. According to the MIT Technology Review, GT Advanced is, “developing a method for making sapphire sheets thinner than a human hair—much thinner than the nearly millimeter-thick glass used now on mobile phones.” A thinner Sapphire display cover could allow for a thinner phone or perhaps allow Apple to incorporate more sensors or battery capacity into a redesigned iPhone without making it thicker. The iPhone 5s is 7.6mm thick for comparison.
Current iPhone 6 rumors suggest the company is planning to deliver at least one new iPhone this year with a larger screen. Several sources and analysts also suggest Apple is working on two iPhone 6 models with larger screens — one with a screen close to 5-inches and another above 5-inches. Rumors suggest Apple is planning an iPhone 6 release for summer or fall, with more weight given to a fall release.