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Foxconn completes assembly testing for sapphire-covered iPhone - report

post #1 of 51
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Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn is said to have successfully assembled at least 100 prototype next-generation iPhone units with sapphire-covered displays, according to a new report.

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


The testing is said to have taken place at a Foxconn-owned factory in the Longhua district of Shenzhen, a major manufacturing city in mainland China's Guangdong province. Taiwanese newspaper Apple Daily was the first to report the news on Friday.

Despite the low number of assembled units, the test reportedly marks a major milestone for Foxconn. Working with sapphire, rather than Corning's softer Gorilla Glass, is said to markedly increase the complexity of the devices' manufacturing process.

The publication also notes that two of Apple's existing sapphire suppliers --?Synopsys and Bern Optics --?have made significant investments in equipment and tooling in recent weeks. Synopsys and Bern Optics currently provide sapphire covers for the iPhone's rear-facing camera as well as the the iPhone 5s's Touch ID sensor.

Apple Daily speculates that the companies' expansion foretells an increase in future orders from Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple. Apple already consumes 10 percent of the world's manufactured sapphire, according to the paper.

Rumors that Apple would move to a sapphire cover for its next-generation handset first appeared in 2012, though subsequent releases --?including the iPhone 5, 5c, and 5s --?have continued to feature Gorilla Glass. The whispers grew louder last November when word broke that Apple had signed a $578 million deal with GT Advanced Technologies to open a sapphire manufacturing plant in Arizona, though some have speculated that plant may instead produce sapphire for a so-called 'iWatch.'
post #2 of 51
Time to sell that Corning stock.
Edited by dasanman69 - 1/24/14 at 9:28am
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post #3 of 51
I hope the sapphire glass means the display will be able to read your fingerprint, like one of Apple's patents suggested.
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post #4 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by bloggerblog View Post

I hope the sapphire glass means the display will be able to read your fingerprint, like one of Apple's patents suggested.

It isn't the sapphire crystal on the home button the reads your fingerprint, it only protects the sensor that does.
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post #5 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


It isn't the sapphire crystal on the home button the reads your fingerprint, it only protects the sensor that does.

Sure it's not, but I'm hoping the reason they're going with a more complex and probably more expensive surface, as well as being more susceptible to cracking, is because of the sensor's "no scratches" requirement.

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post #6 of 51

What if the full face is the screen? Didn't they have a patent for under the lcd camera as well? you have the home button on the screen, with touchID and the camera.  The phone keeps the form factor but the screen is physically bigger, by another inch or so. The speaker can sit on top of the device pointing to your ear.

post #7 of 51
Aluminium body, saphire screen.
Apple is giving comsumers even more reason to choose their products
over inferior imitators
post #8 of 51

It seems odd Apple would go with Sapphire to cover the whole phone as opposed to just parts like the finger print sensor. Sapphire is harder than Gorilla Glass and thereby more scratch resistant, but it is also general thought to be way more expensive to produce and is heavier, less transparent, more breakable from impact, and extolls a higher environmental impact to produce.  

post #9 of 51
They forgot to report the dimensions of the sapphire...
post #10 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post
 

It seems odd Apple would go with Sapphire to cover the whole phone as opposed to just parts like the finger print sensor. Sapphire is harder than Gorilla Glass and thereby more scratch resistant, but it is also general thought to be way more expensive to produce and is heavier, less transparent, more breakable from impact, and extolls a higher environmental impact to produce.  

Thus "also general thought to be" may be wrong out there on the cutting edge.... there've already been reports on large improvements on the production front for instance.

post #11 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by PScooter63 View Post

They forgot to report the dimensions of the sapphire...

You want to get the screen size, huh?  Gonna have to rely on the other pulled-out-of-an-analyst's-ass to find that one.

post #12 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post
 

It seems odd Apple would go with Sapphire to cover the whole phone as opposed to just parts like the finger print sensor. Sapphire is harder than Gorilla Glass and thereby more scratch resistant, but it is also general thought to be way more expensive to produce and is heavier, less transparent, more breakable from impact, and extolls a higher environmental impact to produce.  

One of Apple's previous patents was to allow fingerprint reading on the screen securing access to apps like email and your address-book. I think they will also make the sapphire glass thinner to counter the opacity issue, but sapphire being harder than glass will be more susceptible to cracking.

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post #13 of 51
I wonder if its solid saphire or a laminate
post #14 of 51

Sounds as if Foxconn/Apple may be exiting their corundum conundrum. ;-)

post #15 of 51

OK, so now, 500 000 / a day !

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post #16 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mulder View Post

I wonder if its solid saphire or a laminate

GT Advanced Technologies has a new tech where they use a beam process to pop off extremely thin (20 microns) sheets of Sapphire, the thinness leads me to expect that ultimately it's  laminated to the rest of the screen layers at any rate.

 

""A particle accelerator bombards these wafers with hydrogen ions, and with exacting control of the voltage of the accelerator, the hydrogen ions accumulate precisely 20 micrometers from the surface of each wafer. A robotic arm then transports the wafers to a furnace where the ions expand into hydrogen gas, which cause the 20-micrometer-thick layer to shear off.""

http://www.macrumors.com/2013/11/12/apples-new-manufacturing-partner-gt-advanced-uses-particle-accelerator-to-cut-sapphire-glass-production-costs/

post #17 of 51

No more Home button?

 

Well, I guess that would make it easier to have a bigger screen witout making the iPhone bigger :)

post #18 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

It seems odd Apple would go with Sapphire to cover the whole phone as opposed to just parts like the finger print sensor. Sapphire is harder than Gorilla Glass and thereby more scratch resistant, but it is also general thought to be way more expensive to produce and is heavier, less transparent, more breakable from impact, and extolls a higher environmental impact to produce.  

Could be that a new manufacturing process has been invented that we're unaware of.
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post #19 of 51
Why must the investment be instead for iWatch? That's a stupid conclusion.

This complies with what I concluded recently, that Apple didn't invest a minimum of half a billion dollars to cover watch faces. Covering iPhones is a lot more lucrative, and therefore justifies the lavish upfront expenditure. They can also cover the iWatch in due course.
Edited by Ireland - 1/24/14 at 10:40am
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post #20 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by leshik View Post

What if the full face is the screen? Didn't they have a patent for under the lcd camera as well? you have the home button on the screen, with touchID and the camera.  The phone keeps the form factor but the screen is physically bigger, by another inch or so. The speaker can sit on top of the device pointing to your ear.

They need a physical home button. It's like not having a doorbell on your house just because you don't perhaps need one: you end up with something that is a worse experience for the user. And Apple devices are all about the experience.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #21 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post

It seems odd Apple would go with Sapphire to cover the whole phone as opposed to just parts like the finger print sensor. Sapphire is harder than Gorilla Glass and thereby more scratch resistant, but it is also general thought to be way more expensive to produce and is heavier, less transparent, more breakable from impact, and extolls a higher environmental impact to produce.  

It is generally thought, but let's see what they have in mind and how it fares. In my experience if you drop any current or past iPhone on its faces it's virtually guaranteed to break anyhow, so this is really no different. And when it's stronger you can go a little thinner counteracting the weight gain and gaining thinness as a bonus.
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #22 of 51
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Originally Posted by acatomic View Post

No more Home button?

Well, I guess that would make it easier to have a bigger screen witout making the iPhone bigger 1smile.gif

The home button isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
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post #23 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post
 

It seems odd Apple would go with Sapphire to cover the whole phone as opposed to just parts like the finger print sensor. Sapphire is harder than Gorilla Glass and thereby more scratch resistant, but it is also general thought to be way more expensive to produce and is heavier, less transparent, more breakable from impact, and extolls a higher environmental impact to produce.  

In regards to the pricing, Apple is probably going to lock up all production for the next 2 years just like they did with the iPad. When the iPad came out, nobody could touch their price until 2 years later because Apple scooped up all production supplies in one massive purchase. As for the negatives of Sapphire glass you mention, that was from a report made by Corning (maker of Gorilla Glass) where they didn't allow independent 3rd party testing or confirmation. It could be true or it could be all BS to promote their Gorilla Glass.

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post #24 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post
 

It seems odd Apple would go with Sapphire to cover the whole phone as opposed to just parts like the finger print sensor. Sapphire is harder than Gorilla Glass and thereby more scratch resistant, but it is also general thought to be way more expensive to produce and is heavier, less transparent, more breakable from impact, and extolls a higher environmental impact to produce.  

Hmmm... do you seriously think that Apple will put out something that did not address such basic issues!?

post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by GadgetCanadaV2 View Post

In regards to the pricing, Apple is probably going to lock up all production for the next 2 years just like they did with the iPad. When the iPad came out, nobody could touch their price until 2 years later because Apple scooped up all production supplies in one massive purchase. As for the negatives of Sapphire glass you mention, that was from a report made by Corning (maker of Gorilla Glass) where they didn't allow independent 3rd party testing or confirmation. It could be true or it could be all BS to promote their Gorilla Glass.

I don't think it's BS, and I don't think Corning did the report. The properties of Saphire have been known for a while. It was just too expensive and difficult to manufacture previously.
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post #26 of 51
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Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Hmmm... do you seriously think that Apple will put out something that did not address such basic issues!?

Exactly, they would never make iPods that scratch easily ;-)
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post #27 of 51
``Despite the low number of assembled units, the test reportedly marks a major milestone for Foxconn. Working with sapphire, rather than Corning's softer Gorilla Glass, is said to markedly increase the complexity of the devices' manufacturing process.''

Not to mention increase the brittle qualities of the surface area material and thus I don't see this as an either or, but a composite material bonding the Gorilla Glass with the Sapphire Glass.
post #28 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Hmmm... do you seriously think that Apple will put out something that did not address such basic issues!?

Exactly, they would never make iPods that scratch easily ;-)

Hmmm.... how many years ago was that? ;-)

post #29 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

Hmmm.... how many years ago was that? ;-)

Actually, they are still making the iPod classic:

http://www.apple.com/ipodclassic/gallery/#image2

The back of it scratches if you look at it wrong.
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post #30 of 51
If Apple uses Sapphire glass in its screens there has to be more functionality than just 'scratch Resistant' Good chance entire screen might be touch ID or that lower bezel might be disappearing or something we don't know yet
post #31 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

``Despite the low number of assembled units, the test reportedly marks a major milestone for Foxconn. Working with sapphire, rather than Corning's softer Gorilla Glass, is said to markedly increase the complexity of the devices' manufacturing process.''

Not to mention increase the brittle qualities of the surface area material and thus I don't see this as an either or, but a composite material bonding the Gorilla Glass with the Sapphire Glass.

Actually, that's something I don't see happening. If they do sapphire glass on the display they'll go all-out. This is Apple were talking about. They won't be shipping a new iPhone with a glorified screen protector. Yes, I know there's that hair-thin sapphire glass that was in the works, but I just don't see Apple going for that myself.
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post #32 of 51
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Originally Posted by BUSHMAN4 View Post

If Apple uses Sapphire glass in its screens there has to be more functionality than just 'scratch Resistant' Good chance entire screen might be touch ID or that lower bezel might be disappearing or something we don't know yet

You say that, but every person I know who has an iPhone has a screen protector on it because the screen isn't hard enough. I.E. to negate a minor but fundemental weakness in the product's design. Using sapphire glass fixes that minor but fundemental weakness. In the end it's worth it. And that's why Apple is so great; they build whole factories to fix issues other companies would avoid bringing up in meetings. No, Touch ID is staying on the home button. It really is simpler than you're making it.
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post #33 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

You say that, but every person I know who has an iPhone has a screen protector on it because the screen isn't hard enough. I.E. to negate a minor but fundemental weakness in the product's design. Using sapphire glass fixes that minor but fundemental weakness. In the end it's worth it. And that's why Apple is so great; they build whole factories to fix issues other companies would avoid bringing up in meetings. No, Touch ID is staying on the home button. It really is simpler than you're making it.
Sapphire glass scratches and cracks also. We don't know if gorilla glass 3 or willow is as good
post #34 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Actually, they are still making the iPod classic:

http://www.apple.com/ipodclassic/gallery/#image2

The back of it scratches if you look at it wrong.

Very odd, that polished stainless steel. So soft. Their only alternative would be to do a matte finish on it, but then you get into cookware aesthetics. Since there's no effect on function, we just had to live with scratches that appeared no matter how careful you were.
post #35 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

Very odd, that polished stainless steel. So soft. Their only alternative would be to do a matte finish on it, but then you get into cookware aesthetics. Since there's no effect on function, we just had to live with scratches that appeared no matter how careful you were.

That's not the only alternative. What's the iPhone, a saucepan?
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post #36 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by BUSHMAN4 View Post

Sapphire glass scratches and cracks also.

Sapphire is far less likely to scratch then the current gen glass products. The future is uncertain at this point.
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post #37 of 51

The two biggest risks to the screen are scratches and breakage, and sapphire definitely provides scratch resistance that no glass variant will approach. As for breakage, sapphire is stronger (higher compressive, tensile and shear moduli and higher yield strength), but has lower strain to failure than GG, so it won't tolerate bending as well.  However, since the iPhone is a fairly rigid structure, that should not be a huge problem.

post #38 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

That's not the only alternative. What's the iPhone, a saucepan?

First, a little nuance, please. My experience with the iPod touch "classic" is what i'm talking about. At the time it came out, they hadn't worked out their aluminium processes, nor would they just for the touch. It would take a strategic investment across the iPhone and iPad lines to justify the kind of effort they put into it.

But once they had the processes down for the earlier touch, with its smaller screen, they still aren't going to retool for it, now are they. No, they're going to sell it cheap. Same would apply to the iPod Classic I would think.

Second, if you're trying to equate matte aluminium with brushed stainless with regard to their kitchen-look quotient, you're missing the essential nature of the metal. Stainless is cold qnd it feels bad. Aluminium is warmer and tactile-friendly.
Edited by Flaneur - 1/24/14 at 5:42pm
post #39 of 51
I'm pretty sure the syntehic sapphire Apple is using is far more scratch and crack resistant.

The extra cost is probably more than worth it when it comes to reducing the number of repairs.

Apple will have a a real advantage here since these will go on high end phones where they command the market in volume.
post #40 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by Flaneur View Post

First, a little nuance, please. My experience with the iPod touch "classic" is what i'm talking about. At the time it came out, they hadn't worked out their aluminium processes, nor would they just for the touch. It would take a strategic investment across the iPhone and iPad lines to justify the kind of effort they put into it.

But once they had the processes down for the earlier touch, with its smaller screen, they still aren't going to retool for it, now are they. No, they're going to sell it cheap. Same would apply to the iPod Classic I would think.

Second, if you're trying to equate matte aluminium with brushed stainless with regard to their kitchen-look quotient, you're missing the essential nature of the metal. Stainless is cold qnd it feels bad. Aluminium is warmer and tactile-friendly.

Nuance? It feels like you are responding to someone else.
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