Apple 'never' planned to use sapphire covers for iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus - report

Posted:
in General Discussion edited September 2014
Despite much wishful thinking on the part of enthusiasts and even members of the tech press, full sapphire screen covers were never in the cards for Apple's iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus, a new report reveals.




Citing unnamed sources, Tim Bajarin of Time reported on Wednesday that sapphire was "never targeted for the iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus." Customers holding out hope for a potential sapphire cover on next year's iPhone should also reconsider, as he revealed that the hardened material's role in future iPhone models "hasn't even been decided yet."

The reasons that Apple didn't use or even seriously consider sapphire for this year's iPhone are numerous. AppleInsider detailed many of the issues associated with sapphire back in June, including the facts that it's expensive, it's heavy, and it's prone to shattering when dropped.

Bajarin's report directly refutes one analyst who attempted to claim that sapphire missed the cut on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus designs by a matter of "weeks," before last-minute issues led Apple to choose ion-infused Gorilla Glass. But that analyst, who focuses almost exclusively on Apple's relationship with sapphire maker GT Advanced Technologies, was supremely confident that every iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch would all include sapphire covers, which they do not.

Investors and tech enthusiasts alike were excited by the news of a $578 million contract between Apple and GT Advanced Technologies for sapphire. They hoped that the two companies may have secretly discovered some sort of breakthrough that would allow Apple to build entire iPhone displays, and potentially even iPads, out of the material this year, all while keeping up with overwhelming consumer demand for those products.




But Apple already needs plenty of sapphire for existing products: The iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6, and iPhone 5s all feature sapphire Touch ID home buttons, while all three models along with the iPhone 5c have sapphire camera lens covers. Apple is also expected to introduce a new iPad Air and iPad mini this fall with Touch ID, presumably covered by sapphire as well.

And next year, two of three Apple Watch models will also feature sapphire covers, and the material will also be used on the back to protect the wearable device's heart rate sensor.

The hype --?and ultimate disappointment --?around sapphire recalls another exclusive Apple materials deal that excited fans: a unique metal alloy dubbed Liquidmetal. AppleInsider first discovered back in 2010 that Apple had entered into a $20 million exclusive arrangement to use amorphous metal alloys with unique atomic structures that could make products thinner, lighter, and resistant to wear and corrosion.

While the idea of Liquidmetal was exciting, the reality of the material is that it's too unique and too expensive to produce in such large quantities. But that didn't stop the rumor mill from imagining anything from iPhones to entire MacBooks made out of Liquidmetal.

On Wednesday, even Bajarin admitted he had bought into the sapphire hype and expected the material would be used as a screen cover for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. He then went on to explain many of the well-established problems associated with sapphire, including weight, cost, durability, and even battery life, as the material allows less light to pass thorugh.

"All of us," Bajarin wrote, "need to be more careful before jumping to conclusions in areas like this."
«13

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 55
    This makes sense. There doesn't seem to be much of an upside to sapphire compared to Apple's new ion-infused glass anyway.

    People would rather a screen that is lighter, clearer, brighter, and less prone to shattering anyway.

    As far as apple's partnership with GT, demand for iPhone 6, iPads, and the future Watch could all exhaust the sapphire supply without even adding iPhone screen panels to the mix.
  • Reply 2 of 55
    rcfarcfa Posts: 746member
    As long as people think iPhone displays they don't think AppleWatch, likely a planted rumor to distract from the watch...
    ...and lead competition astray.
  • Reply 3 of 55
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,335member
    Some of the problems mentioned in Tim's article aren't exactly correct. A major one which I'll highlight is the cracking mode. The mode mentioned has to do with multi crystalline structures, where a scratch can open to a crack along crystal surfaces. But these are single crystal boules, just as with single crystal metals, this is much stronger. I think it still needs to be investigated.

    But phone design plays just as much into whether a screen will crack, as the material itself. When Apple went from the 4 series to the 5 series, the percentages of cracked screens dropped dramatically. The reason is due to the case design, which protects the corners of the screen. With the 6, we're seeing a return to an unprotected edge. Since there is still just one glass surface, we should see less cracking than with the 4 series. But just as the significantly lower weight of the 5 series also contributed to less cracking, the higher weight of these larger models will increase the chances.

    It's why I always use a silicone case.
  • Reply 4 of 55
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 31,335member
    blackbook wrote: »
    This makes sense. There doesn't seem to be much of an upside to sapphire compared to Apple's new ion-infused glass anyway.

    People would rather a screen that is lighter, clearer, brighter, and less prone to shattering anyway.

    As far as apple's partnership with GT, demand for iPhone 6, iPads, and the future Watch could all exhaust the sapphire supply without even adding iPhone screen panels to the mix.

    Well, a lot of those "problems" aren't really problems. With such thin screens, the difference in light transmission would be negligible. The same thing is true for weight. We would be talking about several grams.
  • Reply 5 of 55

    Analysis are nowt like Drs and Lawyers, even when they are presented with facts and evidence to show they were wrong you will never get them to admit they were wrong. Reason being they know if they say they were wrong it is calls into question everything they ever said and did. Would you want to know your Dr or lawyer was wrong.... The same is going for people who are advising you about making money. Face it, it is your fault for trusting them.

     

    If you do not want a broken display, then do not drop your phone as simple as that. Also, girls need to stop putting their phones in their back pocket, I see more young women with broken display and my theory is when the sit on it they are bending the phone placing the display under stress and when it is drop of hit the display breaks much easier than if they had not done that in the first place.

     

    As it was pointed out in the article and I can contest to it, I have watches with Sapphire crystals and they are hard and do not scratch and will resist impacts, but if you drop them and it crystal just right it will shatter, not just crack like GG does, at least the iphone is usable with crack glass, but if crystal is shattered it will be useless.

  • Reply 6 of 55
    ecatsecats Posts: 272member
    It's pretty clear that analysts are poor at information gathering. Nor do they understand production or pay much attention to the magnitude of part leaks up to the launch. Very little was not known about the new iPhone pre-launch. We even got to see youtubers stress testing the front screen panel (which revealed it wasn't sapphire, but a new kind of hardened glass.)

    Matt Margolis of PTT Research and the like are incompetent and childish. When they're proven wrong (which is often) they invent patently obvious lies to explain how apple had a last minute change in plans. Switching out a major component such as the front glass was possible back in the days of the more liberally sized iPhone which sold ~6M units over 1.25 years.

    Now apple sells more units than that in the first weekend. There is no room for last minute changes in such a large scale - for example the deal for the glass would have been sealed long before apple completed the design phase, this isn't the land of commodity parts.
  • Reply 7 of 55
    Wait: did an analyst just admit he jumped to conclusions? Even though every analyst (according to AppleInsider) cites "unnamed sources familiar with Apple's plans"???
  • Reply 8 of 55
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by melgross View Post



    Some of the problems mentioned in Tim's article aren't exactly correct. A major one which I'll highlight is the cracking mode. The mode mentioned has to do with multi crystalline structures, where a scratch can open to a crack along crystal surfaces. But these are single crystal boules, just as with single crystal metals, this is much stronger. I think it still needs to be investigated.

     

    Is "cracking" the same as "shattering?" My understanding is that sapphire is more resistant to scratching than Gorilla Glass, but is MORE likely to shatter on impact. Is that not correct?

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post



    It's why I always use a silicone case.

     

    That didn't prevent the screen on my 4 from smashing when it hit the sidewalk, even though it was the type that curled around the edges and protruded above the screen surface. The energy absorption in anything less than an Otterbox is too limited to protect the device from impacts great enough to smash the screen.

     



    Quote:
    Originally Posted by melgross View Post



    With such thin screens, the difference in light transmission would be negligible.

     

    Aw, that ruins my idea for improving the net aperture on the rear-facing camera by ditching the sapphire cover and replacing it with Gorilla Glass! It would be like removing a ND filter!

  • Reply 9 of 55
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,793member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

     

    ...need to stop putting their phones in their back pocket... my theory is when the sit on it they are bending the phone placing the display under stress and when it is drop of hit the display breaks much easier than if they had not done that in the first place.


     

    I kept all my iPhones in my back pocket since the original, and I've never had a problem of easily cracking the screen when it's dropped. If you're noticing more cracked screens with women, it's more likely that they have smaller hands making it more difficult to hold onto their phones, increasing the odds of it being dropped.

  • Reply 10 of 55
    jetzjetz Posts: 1,293member

    The factory that's being built is far too big to just pump out watch screens, camera covers, touch ID buttons and watch sensor covers.  So there's definitely something cooking.  What that is going to be, is anybody's guess.

     

    It could end up simply being the 6S or the 7 and Apple wanted to test the processes by smaller volume  production.  Apple would also need time to build the phone case around a sapphire cover screen to reinforce it.

  • Reply 11 of 55
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rcfa View Post



    As long as people think iPhone displays they don't think AppleWatch, likely a planted rumor to distract from the watch...

    ...and lead competition astray.

    Apparently, it did not work very well if that were the case. Everybody but the kitchen sink expected Apple to unveil the AppleWatch (aka iWatch). As soon as rumors started last year that we will see an Apple-developed watch in late 2014, various companies started churning out their own smart watches to beat Apple to the punch.  I believe Samsung's first smart watch debuted in September 2013 well after the rumors were hitting the web, likely in response.



    http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/05/22/apples-iwatch-to-come-in-late-2014-with-focus-on-biometrics-analyst-says

  • Reply 12 of 55
    ecats wrote: »
    It's pretty clear that analysts are poor at information gathering. Nor do they understand production or pay much attention to the magnitude of part leaks up to the launch. Very little was not known about the new iPhone pre-launch. We even got to see youtubers stress testing the front screen panel (which revealed it wasn't sapphire, but a new kind of hardened glass.)

    Matt Margolis of PTT Research and the like are incompetent and childish. When they're proven wrong (which is often) they invent patently obvious lies to explain how apple had a last minute change in plans. Switching out a major component such as the front glass was possible back in the days of the more liberally sized iPhone which sold ~6M units over 1.25 years.

    Now apple sells more units than that in the first weekend. There is no room for last minute changes in such a large scale - for example the deal for the glass would have been sealed long before apple completed the design phase, this isn't the land of commodity parts.

    Yeah, that would have been the biggest last-minute change since GM decided not to put Wankel engines in all their 1975 cars.
  • Reply 13 of 55

    iPhone 6S ("S" is for saphire)

    50% of Apple's research is for new technologies that start with "S" so that they can release it every other year. FACT!

  • Reply 14 of 55
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,629member
    Silly AI. Analysts are never wrong!
  • Reply 15 of 55
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,195moderator
    Citing unnamed sources

    Not them again. Come to think of it have we ever seen the unnamed sources who said they planned to use them and the ones who didn't in 2 different places at the same time? What if it's just one person making it all up the whole time?
    iPhone 6S ("S" is for saphire)

    It's plausible but I doubt it would be much of a selling point. I don't recall many people being bothered by display scratches on their phones, they seem pretty durable as it is. It's better than not adding it I suppose and they usually do a speed boost too.
  • Reply 16 of 55
    Marvin wrote: »
    It's plausible but I doubt it would be much of a selling point. I don't recall many people being bothered by display scratches on their phones, they seem pretty durable as it is. It's better than not adding it I suppose and they usually do a speed boost too.

    I agree sapphire wouldn't be a major selling point for the 6S. I'm actually curious what Apple will do to differentiate the 6S from the 6 though.

    I would assume optical image stabilization will come to the smaller model and maybe more RAM as well but what will the distinguishing feature be?

    Likely not sapphire because consumers could care less.
  • Reply 17 of 55
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by sog35 View Post

     

     

    No way on earth would Apple invest $700M in a company just to make such a small amount of sapphire.

     


     

    That would be like spending $3 billion dollars on a company that makes headphones.  ;)

     

    All kidding aside I'm with you.  "Tomorrow" will be a brighter day for GTAT and LQMT.  There is something there its just not ready yet.  Apple is testing the waters with a premium gold AppleWatch, I wouldn't put it past them to see a premium AppleWatch 2.0 with LQMT in 2016.

  • Reply 18 of 55
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member

    This is really quite funny.  The rumours spooked, or gave ideas to,  some of the Chinese manufacturers and it looks quite possible that they actually will use sapphire for the screen, starting with Huawei.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/10/us-apple-sapphire-screens-idUSKBN0H50F120140910

  • Reply 19 of 55
    ronmgronmg Posts: 163member

    iPhone 7 in two years will have an ion-infused sapphire screen and a liquid metal body!!  iPhone 7 will bounce when dropped and the ion-infusion process on the sapphire screen will make it lighter, clearer, and shatter-proof!!

     

    I begin this rumor now knowing that idiotic 'analysts' will pick up on it and spread it starting early 2016 (6 months after iPhone 6S is released).  I will be quoted as an 'anonymous source knowledgeable of the inner workings of Apple'!!

     

    :-)

  • Reply 20 of 55
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by blackbook View Post





    I agree sapphire wouldn't be a major selling point for the 6S. I'm actually curious what Apple will do to differentiate the 6S from the 6 though.



    I would assume optical image stabilization will come to the smaller model and maybe more RAM as well but what will the distinguishing feature be?



    Likely not sapphire because consumers could care less.

     

    Apple won't have to do much to differentiate the 6S from the 6.  Main benefit for Apple is a second year of manufacturing the same basic design, so Foxconn doesn't have to retool or retrain their people.  6S will be able to be built faster, more efficiently, and more cost effectively than the 6.  Demand will be there after a year of press coverage of how great the 6 and 6 Plus are, so those who just bought 5S a year ago will be ready to jump on the 6S in 2015Q3 after their two-year commitments are up.  Apple will introduce the A9, maybe more RAM but not a lot (maybe 1.2 gig or 1.5 gig).  A9 will provide speed boost, maybe improved battery by reducing size of other components in gen 2 and increasing battery size to take over that space.  And, iOS 9 will be, of course, awesome, which will motivate people to make the move.  And, iPhone 6 size increase from their iPhone 5S will be motivation as well.  Apple is so smart to do two years of same basic design with simple incremental improvements in the second year - everyone is locked into two year agreements for the most part, so why not 'spread' the same basic design across both years?  Focus on manufacturing efficiencies and incremental improvement to reduce cost, yet still impress the hell out of the 'S' year iPhone users every two years,

Sign In or Register to comment.