Apple is pushing ahead with plans to bring a new Sapphire Glass factory up to speed with job openings to support the iPhone and iPod and a broader job search that could add as many as 700 jobs in the U.S. at the Mesa Arizona plant.
Sapphire Glass is a type of glass that could in theory sit on the top of an iPhone display or be the glass in the iPhone display and protect it from scratches in a manner unlike Gorilla Glass and other screen coverings.
Sapphire is not new in smartphones, if you own an iPhone 5 or iPhone 5s the lens cover is made of Sapphire and the home button on the iPhone 5s is made of Sapphire as well, but it is not commonly used for the screen of a smartphone due to the cost of Sapphire.
In November Apple partnered with GT Advanced Technologies with an investment of over half a billion dollars and Apple is moving swiftly to locate the talent needed to get the Sapphire plant up and running seeking specialized and skilled labor.
The most interesting job openings are for an iPod/iPhone Manufacturing Design Engineer who would, “provide end to end manufacturing and process solutions for key design features,” with a focus on the iPhone and iPod. The job opening spotted by 9to5Mac does not come right out and say that this is for the iPhone 6 or an iPod touch 6th generation device, but early rumors suggest Apple may be trying to bring this new tech into upcoming devices this year, possibly including the rumored iWatch.
In addition to the focused iPhone engineering position, GT Advanced Technologies is also looking to hire up to 700 employees according to MacRumors which shares a postcard sent to Mesa Arizona residents. The company is, ” looking for people to join the team behind our new state-of-the-art sapphire material manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona.”
At this stage in the game it is tough to tell if Apple can move fast enough to put a Sapphire screen on the iPhone 6 that we expect later this year. Apple is still playing with Liquid Metal materials in the iPhone line, but Sapphire played a role in two flagship devices already. The plant’s ability to ramp up and produce Sapphire of the quality and quantity needed to sustain the manufacturing of the rumored two iPhone 6 models with larger screens that leaks say could arrive later this year.