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Apple rumored to use sapphire screen for 'iWatch,' but not next-gen iPhone

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 
New reports out of the Far East suggest that while Apple is currently trialing iPhone units bearing sapphire-covered displays, the material will make its debut on the so-called "iWatch" rather than on the company's next-generation handset this year.

ASF
GT Advanced Technologies' ASF sapphire furnace, the equipment thought to be in use in Apple's new Arizona plant.
Source: GT Advanced


Price is said to be the deciding factor, as Apple has apparently been unable to devise a way to add sapphire to the iPhone without substantially increasing the device's cost. The rumors cropped up on a number of Chinese websites and were first noted by GforGames.

Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple has reportedly not run into similar issues with the still-unannounced iWatch. The rumors indicate that the wrist-worn device's 2-inch diagonal display will in fact bear a protective sapphire layer, much like the sapphire crystals used in other high-end watches.

Taiwanese media reported late last month that Apple's primary iPhone manufacturing partner, Foxconn, had successfully completed assembly testing of prototype iPhone units with sapphire displays. At the same time, Apple's existing sapphire suppliers were seen making significant investments in equipment and tooling thought to point to a large order from Cupertino.

It was then revealed that Apple had taken delivery of a substantial number of sapphire furnaces and inspection equipment at its new Arizona sapphire manufacturing facility. Some industry analysts speculate that, once fully operational, the plant would have enough capacity to manufacture sapphire display components for as many as 200 million handsets per year.

Apple currently uses sapphire as a lens cover for the iPhone's rear-facing camera and as a protective layer over the iPhone 5s's flagship Touch ID feature.
post #2 of 60
iWatch, iWait, iWant, iWill buy.
post #3 of 60
In other news, people still have no clue to what Apple is up to.....
post #4 of 60
I'm gonna go on record and say I'd bet that iPhone 6 will include a sapphire glass display. You don't spend an initial upfront investment of a half a billion for watch displays. Why? Because the iWatch won't cost $700 a pop, that's why. iWatch and iPhone 6 both will have sapphire glass. And keep in mind, too, that this half a billion investment on Apple's part is just the initial disclosed investment in this technology. They may announce more payments as they are required by law to do so. After all that's the only reason we knew about this investment in the first place. Tim Cook spoke about it after those documents were published and the cat was out of the bag.
Edited by Ireland - 2/11/14 at 6:22am
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #5 of 60
Given that if the analyst are even off by a factor of ten on the production capabilities then I don't know that I believe that the next iPhone will not have a sapphire covered display. They are stating that Apple has the capability to make 200 million ~5" handset display covers per year. If they were only doing a watch face then that equates to ~1.2 billion watch faces per year. Now, if they are off by a factor of ten then that equates to ~120 million watch faces per year. That is a ridiculously large number of watches to expect to be sold in their first year of release.

My point is that the production capability that Apple is said to have is too large to be for just watch faces.
post #6 of 60
Makes perfect sense.
post #7 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by samirsshah View Post

Makes perfect sense.

Not really.
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of a rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #8 of 60

Primarily thanks to 9to5Mac research, this year we have been introduced to a lot of positive, forward-thinking information about Apple's research and development in the medical field that could be tied to the mythical iWatch. Then yesterday the "subtle" nudging towards less medical functionality being included in the unannounced iWatch began to surface... http://forums.appleinsider.com/t/161981/rumor-apples-iwatch-team-grows-to-200-people-device-wont-be-regulated-by-fda

 

There have also been several positive, forward-thinking articles about the sapphire plant in Mesa, Arizona being about to manufacture a LARGE number of synthetic sapphire iPhone display covers. Today we are provided this article.

 

If the release pattern of these "less functional" types of articles remain true to form, the pace of the articles will increase as we get closer to the Mobile World Congress event on February 24th.

post #9 of 60

I am going to go on record once more. Apple will never release a watch. They may release a device that is worn on your wrist, but it will no more be a watch than an iPhone is a clock.

post #10 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

I'm gonna go on record and say I'd bet that iPhone 6 will include a sapphire glass display. You don't spend an initial upfront investment of a half a billion for watch displays. Why? Because the iWatch won't cost $700 a pop, that's why. iWatch and iPhone 6 both will have sapphire glass. And keep in mind, too, that this half a billion investment on Apple's part is just the initial disclosed investment in this technology. They may announce more payments as they are required by law to do so. After all that's the only reason we knew about this investment in the first place. Tim Cook spoke about it after those documents were published and the cat was out of the bag.

 

I neither agree or disagree with you, however, I assume it takes a bit of time to set up all that fancy equipment. I also suspect Apple would want to make sure the production capacity can live up to expectations. There is also the issue of making sure the quality of the product is not at issue. It would be a huge risk for Apple to commit to sapphire glass displays on its iPhone because  problems with the manufacturing output or end product would be a very expensive mistake. Testing the glass out on a less high scale product probably makes more sense. With all that said, maybe Apple will feel confident that this new glass manufacturing project can handle the demand. 

post #11 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mknopp View Post

Given that if the analyst are even off by a factor of ten on the production capabilities then I don't know that I believe that the next iPhone will not have a sapphire covered display. They are stating that Apple has the capability to make 200 million ~5" handset display covers per year. If they were only doing a watch face then that equates to ~1.2 billion watch faces per year. Now, if they are off by a factor of ten then that equates to ~120 million watch faces per year. That is a ridiculously large number of watches to expect to be sold in their first year of release.

My point is that the production capability that Apple is said to have is too large to be for just watch faces.


According to Eric Virey, analyst at Yole Development, Apple's "Project Cascade" will have the capacity to build between 80 to 100 million displays per year at full capacity. With just over half of the capacity in place within the next few months, Apple may be able to produce as produce between 23 to 28 million displays this year if production manufacturing commences by June which seems unlikely. I do not understand why those who are quoting him and those quoting persons who have quoted him have inflated the numbers so dramatically.

Most notably, sapphire is not an appropriate coating for a smartphone. Seemingly, the damage occurring to the displays of smartphones is caused by shattering as much as by scratches. Although sapphire is extremely hard it is also extremely brittle thus susceptible to shattering caused by impact damage. A watch is typically much less susceptible to shattering caused by impact damage.

I believe it is likely that this significant investment by Apple is to ensure the capacity for sapphire TouchID and the rear camera of the iPhone as much as future products. The rumored problems with production capacity for TouchID may well be related to the production of sapphire.
Edited by MacBook Pro - 2/11/14 at 7:26am
post #12 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by kent909 View Post

I am going to go on record once more. Apple will never release a watch. They may release a device that is worn on your wrist, but it will no more be a watch than an iPhone is a clock.

Considering this is Apple we're talking about and not Timex I think that's a given...
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post #13 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

I'm gonna go on record and say I'd bet that iPhone 6 will include a sapphire glass display. You don't spend an initial upfront investment of a half a billion for watch displays. Why? Because the iWatch won't cost $700 a pop, that's why. iWatch and iPhone 6 both will have sapphire glass. And keep in mind, too, that this half a billion investment on Apple's part is just the initial disclosed investment in this technology. They may announce more payments as they are required by law to do so. After all that's the only reason we knew about this investment in the first place. Tim Cook spoke about it after those documents were published and the cat was out of the bag.

You may end up being correct but your reasoning is faulty.

Why would Apple say, "If we invest $578 million in a sapphire plant we need to use in an iPhone in 2014, not 2015, or it's a pointless endeavor"? That makes no sense. Apple has a long history of starting small and then growing. In 2006 you would have said they can't release an iPhone that doesn't have 3G cellular capabilities.

You can look at many of Apple's acquisitors to see that they take the slow and steady road. It was years until we say that $278 million PA Semi investment turn into anything and when it did it was first a small portion of the Apple A-series chip which they expanded each year. That $278 million was a larger portion of Apple's value than the $578 million they recently purchased the sapphire plant for.

You haven't even considered why Apple would spend $356 million on AuthenTec to only use in one model of iPhone. You need to ask yourself why Apple would have made such a large investment for a component that would be beneficial in all devices with a home button and then not use it all devices with a home button. The simple answer is they simply can't make enough of a given quality to satisfy all their needs, so why assume that because Apple is investing in sapphire (something commonly used for watch faces) that it would pointless to release this year on just a watch when they are still working on issues to maximize efficiency, thinness, sizes, production rates, etc. that would make producing a 4 to 5" iPhone display at the thinness needed for a phone as compared to the much smaller, thicker, and lower production units needed for a watch face?

The correct answer is they will only utilize it in the next iPhone if they can make enough at a given quality and cost to warrant its inclusion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kent909 View Post

I am going to go on record once more. Apple will never release a watch. They may release a device that is worn on your wrist, but it will no more be a watch than an iPhone is a clock.

Is the iPhone not a phone even though it's just a part of an single app and does a whole lot more than make and recieve calls? I think so which is why I would also say the iPhone is a clock and that am iWatch would also tell time and therefore be a watch.
Edited by SolipsismX - 2/11/14 at 8:51am

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post #14 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post


According to Eric Virey, analyst at Yole Development, Apple's "Project Cascade" will have the capacity to build between 80 to 100 million displays per year at full capacity. With just over half of the capacity in place within the next few months, Apple may be able to produce as produce between 23 to 28 million displays this year if production manufacturing commences by June which seems unlikely. I do not understand why those who are quoting him and those quoting persons who have quoted him have inflated the numbers so dramatically.

Most notably, sapphire is not an appropriate coating for a smartphone. Seemingly, the damage occurring to the displays of smartphones is caused by shattering as much as by scratches. Although sapphire is extremely hard it is also extremely brittle thus susceptible to shattering caused by impact damage. A watch is typically much less susceptible to shattering caused by impact damage.

I believe it is likely that this significant investment by Apple is to ensure the capacity for sapphire TouchID and the rear camera of the iPhone as much as future products. The rumored problems with production capacity for TouchID may well be related to the production of sapphire.

 

Sapphire is quite appropriate when laminated with another substrate, which might be glass or lexan for all I know. This is stated or implied by most of the earlier stories on sapphire. I haven't read anything lately that would suggest otherwise.

 

I do have doubts that Apple can ramp up this fast for iPhone 6 production, but there is not doubt that the scope of the production is beyond wearable devices and the iTouch sensor.

post #15 of 60
If the a in 4s was for Siri, and for security in the 5, then am I wrong for thinking it'll be for sapphire in the 6?

They are gonna run out of features that start with an s soon
post #16 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by justp1ayin View Post

If the a in 4s was for Siri, and for security in the 5, then am I wrong for thinking it'll be for sapphire in the 6?

They are gonna run out of features that start with an s soon

1) Why assume that Apple requires a major feature that starts with the letter 'S'?

2) Siri arrived with the 4S which came out after the 4, and TouchID (which you've dubbed Security) which arrived with the 5S came out after the 5. So why assume that the iPhone 6 will get something that starts with 'S'? Even within your own established system it doesn't add up.

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post #17 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

1) Why assume that Apple requires a major feature that starts with the letter 'S'?

2) Siri arrived with the 4S which came out after the 4, and TouchID (which you've dubbed Security) which arrived with the 5S came out after the 5. So why assume that the iPhone 6 will get something that starts with 'S'? Even within your own established system it doesn't add up.

Cause it's a damn message board, if we aren't assuming things on rumors (assumptions), then what the hell are we doing here.

Plus I like how my idea sounds.
post #18 of 60
macbook pro says

"I believe it is likely that this significant investment by Apple is to ensure the capacity for sapphire TouchID and the rear camera of the iPhone as much as future products. The rumored problems with production capacity for TouchID may well be related to the production of sapphire."

my addition "and silicon."

To ireland,

I should have put my reasoning with my comment,

Apple's need for Sapphire essentially quadruples if iPhone 5S becomes a $100 phone with iPhone 6 introduction and if Apple decides to put Touch IDs on iPads. On top of that if Apple improves the cameras on iPads the need goes to six times. So Apple is investing havily in Sapphire.

There is also a chance that Apple has figured out a way to bond Sapphire with an almost shatterproof material. Then that needs to be field tested. Then what a better way than to put sapphire on iWatch which is just like other high quality watches to test the results.

If that experiment succeeds then we have an almost indescrutible iPhone. And Apple will not field test it on an iPhone, which is their premium product. On the watch it makes sense because others have put sapphire on it.
post #19 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by kent909 View Post
 

I am going to go on record once more. Apple will never release a watch. They may release a device that is worn on your wrist, but it will no more be a watch than an iPhone is a clock.

well - it nothings truly obvious - because it remains a rumor....

but then according to your comment of record, the iPhone isn't really a phone, since i bet most people spend more time emailing, browsing, and playing on an iPhone than they do using it as a 'phone'

post #20 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmay View Post

Sapphire is quite appropriate when laminated with another substrate, which might be glass or lexan for all I know. This is stated or implied by most of the earlier stories on sapphire. I haven't read anything lately that would suggest otherwise.

I do have doubts that Apple can ramp up this fast for iPhone 6 production, but there is not doubt that the scope of the production is beyond wearable devices and the iTouch sensor.

Of course there is doubt.

Please provide evidence that Apple will eventually have the capacity to produce sufficient amounts of sapphire for 200 million 5" display devices.
post #21 of 60
I don't think he was being entirely s for serious.

Re. Sapphire, if TouchID is rolled out across the next iPhone plus both sizes of iPad later this year then Apple are probably going to double their need for home buttons. They may be smaller than whole screens, but they need to come from somewhere too.

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post #22 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by justp1ayin View Post


Cause it's a damn message board, if we aren't assuming things on rumors (assumptions), then what the hell are we doing here.

Plus I like how my idea sounds.

 

... and "sounds" starts with "s".

 

... but so does "silly".

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post #23 of 60
Any watch has sapphire. So iWatch.
post #24 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by island hermit View Post

... and "sounds" starts with "s".

... but so does "silly".
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crowley View Post

I don't think he was being entirely s for serious.

Re. Sapphire, if TouchID is rolled out across the next iPhone plus both sizes of iPad later this year then Apple are probably going to double their need for home buttons. They may be smaller than whole screens, but they need to come from somewhere too.

Maybe I was justp1ayin?
post #25 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by kent909 View Post
 

I am going to go on record once more. Apple will never release a watch. They may release a device that is worn on your wrist, but it will no more be a watch than an iPhone is a clock.

 

so you are saying Apple won't be making a bonified watch like Rolex.

 

Wow, really going out on a limb.

post #26 of 60

All that means is the "iWatch" might debut before the next iPhone...

post #27 of 60

This $500 million will be conveniently forgotten when we look at the iPhone 6 component costs.  "Look how much profit Apple is squeezing out of their customers!"

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post #28 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post


Of course there is doubt.

Please provide evidence that Apple will eventually have the capacity to produce sufficient amounts of sapphire for 200 million 5" display devices.

The reports on what GT Advanced has ordered and received tends to support a number, area, in that range.

http://www.macrumors.com/2014/02/06/sapphire-production-future-iphones/

 

Which does seem quite a bit beyond the area of material needed for the mentioned sensor and wearable devices.

"but there is not doubt that the scope of the production is beyond wearable devices and the iTouch sensor."

post #29 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by jfc1138 View Post

The reports on what GT Advanced has ordered and received tends to support a number, area, in that range.
http://www.macrumors.com/2014/02/06/sapphire-production-future-iphones/

Which does seem quite a bit beyond the area of material needed for the mentioned sensor and wearable devices.
"but there is not doubt that the scope of the production is beyond wearable devices and the iTouch sensor."

I highly recommend you follow their sources as they have simply quoted someone else then inflated the numbers dramatically.
post #30 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmay View Post

Sapphire is quite appropriate when laminated with another substrate, which might be glass or lexan for all I know. This is stated or implied by most of the earlier stories on sapphire. I haven't read anything lately that would suggest otherwise.

I do have doubts that Apple can ramp up this fast for iPhone 6 production, but there is not doubt that the scope of the production is beyond wearable devices and the iTouch sensor.


Unfortunately, such applications typically use aluminum oxynitride which results in a highly expensive product.
post #31 of 60

Wasn't the iWatch supposed to have a bendable display? How will they accomplish that with sapphire?

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post #32 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by tmay View Post
 

 

Sapphire is quite appropriate when laminated with another substrate, which might be glass or lexan for all I know. This is stated or implied by most of the earlier stories on sapphire. I haven't read anything lately that would suggest otherwise.

 

I do have doubts that Apple can ramp up this fast for iPhone 6 production, but there is not doubt that the scope of the production is beyond wearable devices and the iTouch sensor.

 

Actually when treated they can make sapphire with a pretty high ultimate tensile strength.

 

As for production. It has been stated that the equipment shipped or shipping to Mesa, AZ is already capable of producing close to 100 million ~5" display covers already, and they have enough on order to ramp that up to 200 million. Once the initial testing and process is verified companies can ramp up production pretty quickly. Also, if Apple keeps to its standard release timeframe they have close to seven months before the iPhone 6 will be released. I don't see any issues with production as long as nothing unexpected happens.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MacBook Pro View Post


I highly recommend you follow their sources as they have simply quoted someone else then inflated the numbers dramatically.


Seriously? It is stated in this very article.

 

And both this article and the other provided source the original research done by 9to5 Mac, and neither of the articles inflated any numbers from the original article.

 

http:// 9to5mac [dot] com /2014/02/06/exclusive-apple-just-procured-enough-sapphire-crystal-furnaces-to-make-100-200m-5-inch-iphone-displays-in-arizona/

[Note: You will have to copy, paste and correct the address since AI forums replaced the original address with their own address. See below for pasted link.]

http://************/2014/02/06/exclusive-apple-just-procured-enough-sapphire-crystal-furnaces-to-make-100-200m-5-inch-iphone-displays-in-arizona/

 

This is as valid of proof that anyone is ever going to get without being inside one of these companies and then NDAs likely apply.

post #33 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

I'm gonna go on record and say I'd bet that iPhone 6 will include a sapphire glass display. You don't spend an initial upfront investment of a half a billion for watch displays. Why? Because the iWatch won't cost $700 a pop, that's why. iWatch and iPhone 6 both will have sapphire glass. And keep in mind, too, that this half a billion investment on Apple's part is just the initial disclosed investment in this technology. They may announce more payments as they are required by law to do so. After all that's the only reason we knew about this investment in the first place. Tim Cook spoke about it after those documents were published and the cat was out of the bag.

 

Right, because Apple has a history of making expensive strategic purchases and turning that into a product in 6 months time. :rolleyes:

 

Refer to the Authentec purchase (2012) and Touch ID (2013). 14 month turnaround from acquisition to shipping product.

post #34 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

I'm gonna go on record and say I'd bet that iPhone 6 will include a sapphire glass display.

Disagree, even when they get the new forges to increase output, they'll not have enough stock to cover the next iPhone.

My belief is they'll start making their own Touch ID covers, lenses for the cameras and iWatch screens, learn to increase yield over the coming year, add more forges, maybe even build another plant. Then the end of next year they'll do iPhone screens.

post #35 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mknopp View Post


And both this article and the other provided source the original research done by 9to5 Mac, and neither of the articles inflated any numbers from the original article.

http:// ************ /2014/02/06/exclusive-apple-just-procured-enough-sapphire-crystal-furnaces-to-make-100-200m-5-inch-iphone-displays-in-arizona/
[Note: You will have to copy, paste and delete the spaces around ************ since AI forums replaced ************ with their own address. See below for pasted link.]
[URL=http:/2014/02/06/exclusive-apple-just-procured-enough-sapphire-crystal-furnaces-to-make-100-200m-5-inch-iphone-displays-in-arizona/]http://************/2014/02/06/exclusive-apple-just-procured-enough-sapphire-crystal-furnaces-to-make-100-200m-5-inch-iphone-displays-in-arizona/[/URL]

This is as valid of proof that anyone is ever going to get without being inside one of these companies and then NDAs likely apply.

That isn't the source.
post #36 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by kent909 View Post
 

I am going to go on record once more. Apple will never release a watch. They may release a device that is worn on your wrist, but it will no more be a watch than an iPhone is a clock.

And yet it will probably be able to tell time as well, and it may be called an iWatch even though it be much much more than just a watch.  Look no further than the iPhone to see precedent for this.  It is a mobile computing device that happens to be able to make phone calls.  But they used "Phone" in the name anyway.  Same may happen to this wrist-worn device.  It may be able to tell time as well as serve many other more useful functions, and it may be called iWatch.  And the media will miss the point just like they did with iPhone ("$600 for a PHONE!?!?!  Apple must be nuts!).

 

My question for you:  if Apple releases a wrist-worn device, will they name it "iWatch"?  And if so, does that fit your opinion above, or not?

post #37 of 60
Initial reports were that apple has built capacity for producing 200 million units worth of iPhone glass.
That is an awful lot of extra capacity if i is just intended for the iwatch !
post #38 of 60
So whatever it is it's not flexible.. I was hoping for a flexible device - but with saphire glass I guess it's not.
post #39 of 60
Much is being made about capacity and cost. The assumption is that the iPhone 6 will be ONE model and it is an all or nothing proposition for sapphire.

Much like the iPhone 5S and 5C models, I envision a premium model costing hundreds more WITH the sapphire screens and certainly other upgrades, as well as a lower cost option WITHOUT sapphire for a broader customer base.

This allows for the arguments regarding capacity ramp in Arizona to be moot (if capacity is indeed limited at launch - some argue otherwise) and only limiting customer choice and not limiting customer access to the iPhone 6. It also makes the cost issue moot as it allows the customer to choose whether they pick the premium package including sapphire along with the added cost, or the more basic model.

As a side note, some argue the cost difference between GTAT sapphire and GLW glass is dwindling: http://seekingalpha.com/article/1957211
post #40 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yojimbo007 View Post

Initial reports were that apple has built capacity for producing 200 million units worth of iPhone glass.
That is an awful lot of extra capacity if i is just intended for the iwatch !

Reading the information carefully, Apple has contracted for such equipment and has not finished building the facility yet, let alone gotten to the point where they can even perform mass sampling runs for QC.  Other information suggests that new processes for mass production are involved and that this is all somewhat bleeding edge from a manufacturing standpoint.  

 

My thought is that for a device that is going to bag 50 MM+ units in a quarter, at this point you better already have your manufacturing processes nailed down, proven, and scalable.  The Arizona plant doesn't sound anything like that. 

 

 

Hence, I'm inclined to believe that the Arizona plant with all of this manufacturing capability is going to miss the window for this year's iPhone launch.  Hope I'm wrong.

 

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