New Chinese handset shows consumers remain fixated on sapphire iPhones

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2015
Apple's iPhone component choices are once again a trending topic of conversation following the announcement of a low-cost, sapphire-covered smartphone from a little-known Chinese electronics firm.




Huizhou-based conglomerate Desay unveiled its new $160 Magical Mirror X5 earlier this week, an event that would ordinarily have attracted little fanfare. The device --?which sports a 5-inch 720p display, a 13-megapixel rear camera, and a 4G LTE modem --?seems to be a loss leader designed to boost interest in Desay's nascent in-house electronics brand, as the Wall Street Journal believes its sale price is unlikely to cover its manufacturing costs.

However, the Magical Mirror X5 has two aces up its sleeve: its sapphire-covered display and the fact that another Desay unit, Desay Battery, is a known Apple supplier.

Those facts have propelled the X5, which is only available from a single mobile carrier in mainland China, to the top of the technology blogosphere. At press time, more than a dozen news articles --?many from major publications --?mention the words "Apple" or "iPhone" alongside Desay's new handset.

"Apple Supplier Desay Unveils 'Unbreakable' Sapphire-Screen Phone," reads the Journal's headline. "Next iPhone could feature 'unbreakable' sapphire screen as Apple supplier boosts production," says the International Business Times.

This breathless reporting comes despite the very public failure of Apple's sapphire joint venture in Arizona and after the unveiling of the Apple Watch, which includes a sapphire-covered display on some models and was likely the impetus for the company's sapphire search. Apple also uses sapphire for the Touch ID home button and rear camera lens cover in its iPhone lineup, nearly 70 million of which are thought to have been sold in the last three months of 2014.

That none of those facts have tamped down the speculation regarding an expanded role for sapphire in the next-generation iPhone simply underscores the strange fascination that technology journalists and technophiles have with the hard-but-brittle material. Like Liquidmetal before it, sapphire may become Apple fans' latest white whale.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 15

    An unknown supplier can pull off this stun. They don't need tens of millions of pieces of sapphire glasses. Neither do they have to worry about brittleness of the screen, or about court-challenges to the "unbreakable" display. If it breaks, people will just say "well, it's a cheap Chinese phone, what do you expect?". They don't have a reputation to lose when things go south. They don't have the intense media scrutiny on their every move.

     

    See how easy life is for Apple?

  • Reply 2 of 15
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,243member

    I'm surprised they didn't make it gold as well, just to cover all bases with those who care more about showing off the precious materials they own than actually having things that are useful.

     

    image 

     

    Not saying that Sapphire isn't useful if it does indeed make the display harder to break (still yet to be proven), but if it's on a phone that's of poor quality otherwise, what difference does it make?

  • Reply 3 of 15
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,666member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by zoffdino View Post

     

    An unknown supplier can pull off this stun. They don't need tens of millions of pieces of sapphire glasses. Neither do they have to worry about brittleness of the screen, or about court-challenges to the "unbreakable" display. If it breaks, people will just say "well, it's a cheap Chinese phone, what do you expect?". They don't have a reputation to lose when things go south. They don't have the intense media scrutiny on their every move.

     

    See how easy life is for Apple?


    On the other hand this could be an Apple test run. If the sapphire proves to be 'unbreakable' and become destined for the iPhone the fact that this phone will be covered far and wide in every blog, rumor and news site on the planet will hardly hurt Apple. On the contrary. If the screen turns out to be no good, ditto for Apple. Perhaps Apple has a licensing deal with caveat, already. 

    Probably not, but its possible, is it not?

  • Reply 4 of 15
    paxman wrote: »
    On the other hand this could be an Apple test run. If the sapphire proves to be 'unbreakable' and become destined for the iPhone the fact that this phone will be covered far and wide in every blog, rumor and news site on the planet will hardly hurt Apple. On the contrary. If the screen turns out to be no good, ditto for Apple. Perhaps Apple has a licensing deal with caveat, already. 
    Probably not, but its possible, is it not?

    I was thinking the same thing. It could be that Apple is subsiding this phone as a real world test.
  • Reply 5 of 15
    paxmanpaxman Posts: 4,666member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by auxio View Post

     

    I'm surprised they didn't make it gold as well, just to cover all bases with those who care more about showing off the precious materials they own than actually having things that are useful.


    Color choices on the iPhone is a bit silly, really. Not that I don't care - I weigh up my options and prejudices like the next guy, but how many people wear their iPhones naked (Not you - the phone! geez!

  • Reply 7 of 15
    auxioauxio Posts: 2,243member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by paxman View Post

     

    Color choices on the iPhone is a bit silly, really. Not that I don't care - I weigh up my options and prejudices like the next guy, but how many people wear their iPhones naked (Not you - the phone! geez!




    I personally had my phone waterproofed so that I could shower with it. /s

     

    I've seen a few people with gold iPhones and no case.  But they tend to carry the phone in a (luxury) handbag or similar.  And there are some cases designed to show the color of the phone.  So I do understand the choice of color, and it's fine if you simply prefer gold.  However, the marketing for this particular phone (the gem image) is definitely targeted at the precious material coveting crowd.  It's not like the gold iPhone has a picture of a gold bar beside it in marketing materials.

  • Reply 8 of 15
    quinneyquinney Posts: 2,528member
    Good. Maybe they will buy a bunch of furnaces from GTAT and Apple can get some of their money back.
  • Reply 9 of 15
    chadbagchadbag Posts: 1,315member
    Just for the record I carry my iPhones 'naked' and have since the 5 came out. And I have no luxury handbag. Just my pants pocket (granted Vertx pants and their awesome experience online pocket)
  • Reply 10 of 15
    The selling point of sapphire isn't and shouldn't be that it's unbreakable. In fact, sapphire is even more brittle than Gorilla Glass (or aluminosilicate toughened glass). What makes Sapphire glass desirable is because it's harder (hence the brittleness) and therefore virtually scratch resistant.
  • Reply 11 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

    New Chinese handset shows consumers remain fixated on sapphire iPhones

     

    Quick question, that just dawned on me.

     

    How does a Chinese handset maker using a sapphire glass in any way support the above headline?

  • Reply 12 of 15
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by starbird73 View Post

     

    Quick question, that just dawned on me.

    How does a Chinese handset maker using a sapphire glass in any way support the above headline?


     

    Well it supports it in reference to "the strange fascination that technology journalists and technophiles have with the hard-but-brittle material."  Apparently tech journalists and technophiles are the current consumers. Probably because, in limited production, they are the only ones who can get their hands on it.

  • Reply 13 of 15
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by starbird73 View Post





    I was thinking the same thing. It could be that Apple is subsiding this phone as a real world test.

     

    sorry fellas but that isnt how apple rolls. they have their own testing teams & labs and dont need to have some other company launch a product for them as a trial.

  • Reply 14 of 15
    habihabi Posts: 317member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by MykeM View Post



    The selling point of sapphire isn't and shouldn't be that it's unbreakable. In fact, sapphire is even more brittle than Gorilla Glass (or aluminosilicate toughened glass). What makes Sapphire glass desirable is because it's harder (hence the brittleness) and therefore virtually scratch resistant.



    The million dollar question is is the scratching a big problem now with gorilla glass or is it the brittleness. to mee the problem is 99,9% the brittleness and I really dont see how sapphire would make it better?!

  • Reply 15 of 15
    Actually, Apple is using Liquidmetal in the iPhone for the Apple logo, and ring around the Lightning port, and of course the sim removal tool.  New MacBook's Apple logos are also Liquidmetal.  
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