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Apple filing hints that sapphire may play larger role in future iOS devices

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Apple may be looking to expand the use of sapphire in its iOS lineup, as a new company filing points to larger applications than covers for fingerprint sensors and camera covers, like entire device displays.

Touch ID
Apple's Touch ID sensor with sapphire cover at right. | Source: Apple


When Apple unveiled its iPhone 5s on Tuesday, it debuted a new Touch ID fingerprint sensor that features a unique cover glass made out of sapphire, an incredibly hard stone with a hardness rating second only to diamond. Aside from the sapphire covering used to protect the iPhone 5's rear camera lens element, Apple has not used the material as a major component in its products. That may soon change.

A new patent filing published on Thursday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, simply titled "Sapphire Laminates," shows the company is actively working on processes that can make the expensive gemstone a viable option for the mass production of consumer electronics.

Sapphire Laminate
Combining two sheets of sapphire. | Source: USPTO


First filed for in March, the invention looks to alleviate costs associated with preparing sapphire, or corundum, for use as an extremely scratch-resistant display covering or even as part of a device's screen.

As noted in the patent language, the cost of sapphire is only part of the problem. The same properties that make corundum an asset also make it difficult to prepare. Apple gives the example of cutting and polishing the material, which is more time consuming when applying traditional techniques. In addition, the machines are rapidly worn down due to the stone's hardness.

The process outlined in Apple's filing concerns the lamination of sapphire sheets, including sapphire-on-sapphire or sapphire-on-glass applications.

Because sapphire is crystalline in structure, Apple can take advantage of more than one property when laying up two or more sheets and fusing them together. For example, one plane of corundum exhibits high scratch resistance and can be used as an outer layer for a display glass, while a different plane may be less prone to breakage.

Sapphire Laminate
Various embodiments of Apple's patent.


Apple says that the final laminated sheet will be no more than 1 millimeter thick, meaning the separate 0.5mm sapphire sheets need to be handled with great care. To create a single solid structure, the sheets are fused together at high temperatures. Adhesives can also be used in some cases. Thicknesses of less than 1mm can be achieved by lapping or polishing the surface down.

To retain a resilient structure, a diversity of planes can be used along the edge of a laminated sheet, achieved by varying the orientation individual sheets prior to fusing them together. These edges are lapped and finally polished to size.

Finally, an interesting embodiment allows for a thin sheet of sapphire laminate to be bonded to a metal surface, such as steel. The glass backplates on Apple's iPhone 4S, for example, would benefit from such a design.

Apple's sapphire laminate patent credits Christopher D. Prest, Dale N. Memering, David A. Pakula, Richard Hung Minh Dinh, and Vincent Yan as its inventors.
post #2 of 19
This is incredibly interesting. I was very tempted by the 5S, but have to remind myself that the Touch ID facility is 1st generation (for iPhones). I have a 4S which I'm happy with, but I could imagine a 6/6S with it's capacitive touchscreen, 3rd gen. Touch ID, and all covered by a layer of Sapphire crystal. Now THAT would be a beautiful and worthy investment!

Btw, I'm not a dev, so don't have access to the GM of iOS 7, but what sort of performance are you guys seeing on the 4S?
post #3 of 19
@Ombra2105 The animations in iOS 7 are too slow on any device. They need a 2X speed up.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
Reply
post #4 of 19

I love that first diagram.  Without it (and it's numeric labels) how could anyone hope to explain the concept of placing one sheet over material on top of another.  Now it's crystal clear that the A-PLANE goes on top of the A-PLANE.

post #5 of 19
TouchID: an iPhone feature by Sapphire.
post #6 of 19

High-end manufacturers like Vertu have been using sapphire screens for many years. It's only a matter of time before they fall in price.

post #7 of 19

Laminating sheets of sapphire sounds really hard:)

post #8 of 19
Now if can work as battery too.
Ml
post #9 of 19

Apple has lost its innovation edge. How can it do any of this?

post #10 of 19

  Now we start seeing the REAL reason for the 2 different phones (5s & 5c).

 

There had to come a time when Apple realized that it would have to offer a Premium phone, one that can continually be sold at Premium price. (Not everyone would continue to afford or pay for that.  But there is till a great deal of people that will.)

 

 At the same time, with Samsung, but especially Google, (that doesn't care much about how low they can take their phone prices down) they will continue to flood the market with cheaper phones.   Apple needs a different phone that they can serve up without all these premium features.   Most people will buy them anyways because of the whole shebang that comes with it.

post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by RichL View Post

High-end manufacturers like Vertu have been using sapphire screens for many years. It's only a matter of time before they fall in price.

Their poor rich customers have to use Android:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vertu
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by malax View Post

I love that first diagram.  Without it (and it's numeric labels) how could anyone hope to explain the concept of placing one sheet over material on top of another.  Now it's crystal clear that the A-PLANE goes on top of the A-PLANE.

Ha,, ha, but notice that the crystal orientations are different along the edges, for more torsional strength probably.
post #13 of 19
Originally Posted by Eternal Emperor View Post
Apple has lost its innovation edge. How can it do any of this?

 

Just go away.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #14 of 19
Next year's iPhone 6 with a quad-core 64 bit CPU, 24 bit audio DAC's (like the new LG G2), Liquidmetal RF transparent body and a laminated sapphire screen on top of the (finally) IGZO display...what a nice gadget geek's dream! Oh and you can add touch-texture screen tech to that as well. All workable technologies that haven't hit the market yet.
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eternal Emperor View Post

Apple has lost its innovation edge. How can it do any of this?

Jeez, everyone know screen size and price are the only items considered innovation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by juandl View Post

  Now we start seeing the REAL reason for the 2 different phones (5s & 5c).

There had to come a time when Apple realized that it would have to offer a Premium phone, one that can continually be sold at Premium price. (Not everyone would continue to afford or pay for that.  But there is till a great deal of people that will.)

 At the same time, with Samsung, but especially Google, (that doesn't care much about how low they can take their phone prices down) they will continue to flood the market with cheaper phones.   Apple needs a different phone that they can serve up without all these premium features.   Most people will buy them anyways because of the whole shebang that comes with it.

The Apple experience is a premium experience. They won't downgrade just to sell shitty phones.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Just go away.

I could be wrong, but I thought it was sarcasm.
post #16 of 19
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post
I could be wrong, but I thought it was sarcasm.

 

In fact, I think it was, and I apologize. We really need to agree to put sarcasm tags on all of our posts when we do that, because there ARE people who actually believe that dreck. It's hard to tell them apart.

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply

Originally Posted by Slurpy

There's just a TINY chance that Apple will also be able to figure out payments. Oh wait, they did already… …and you’re already f*ed.

 

Reply
post #17 of 19

Samsung won't bother to claim to be working on the same technology until after Apple announces a product with it.

 

Of course, as soon as Samsung does, the android fascists will start claiming that they invented it and Apple is just copying Samsung.

 

Or it could go the way of the iWatch:

 

Rumors of iWatch -> Samsung announces watch -> Samsung ships crappy watch -> Apple invents revolutionary Watch -> Samsung copies Apple's new design -> Samsung copies Apple's new design -> Android Fascists claim that Apple copied Samsung.

 

It's hilarious. 

post #18 of 19
Maybe they're planning to make the entire display a one big touch ID? There was a Apple patent that talked about making an entire display as one big fingerprint scanner.

Maybe this is connected to the rumors of making a iPhone with a larger screen. In my opinion the only way to make a larger screen without making the phone bigger is to remove bazel and the home button(Touch ID)

I'm just thinking out loud 1smile.gif
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by juandl View Post
Apple needs a different phone that they can serve up without all these premium features.   Most people will buy them anyways because of the whole shebang that comes with it.

 

Ah so Apple should abandon its strategy, which has gotten them the lion's share of profits in the smartphone space, and instead emulate its competitors in a race to the bottom by offering lower quality, cheaper devices that make no money. Brilliant.

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