Foxconn completes assembly testing for sapphire-covered iPhone - report

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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.'
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 53
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,951member
    Time to sell that Corning stock.
  • Reply 2 of 53
    I hope the sapphire glass means the display will be able to read your fingerprint, like one of Apple's patents suggested.
  • Reply 3 of 53
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,951member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 53
    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.

  • Reply 5 of 53

    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.

  • Reply 6 of 53
    Aluminium body, saphire screen.
    Apple is giving comsumers even more reason to choose their products
    over inferior imitators
  • Reply 7 of 53
    tbelltbell Posts: 3,146member

    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.  

  • Reply 8 of 53
    They forgot to report the dimensions of the sapphire...
  • Reply 9 of 53
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    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.

  • Reply 10 of 53
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,055member
    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.

  • Reply 11 of 53
    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.

  • Reply 12 of 53
    I wonder if its solid saphire or a laminate
  • Reply 13 of 53

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

  • Reply 14 of 53

    OK, so now, 500 000 / a day !

  • Reply 15 of 53
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    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/

  • Reply 16 of 53

    No more Home button?

     

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

  • Reply 17 of 53
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,951member
    tbell wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 53
    irelandireland Posts: 17,223member
    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.
  • Reply 19 of 53
    irelandireland Posts: 17,223member
    leshik wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 53
    irelandireland Posts: 17,223member
    tbell wrote: »
    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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