If you're hoping your next iPhone will include a sapphire glass display, you may be waiting another year. JP Morgan analyst Rod Hall says the cost of synthetic sapphire glass is still too high, and that Apple won't be able to get the price down to a reasonable level in time for this year's iPhone 6 launch.
Analyst claims no sapphire for iPhone 6 display over cost issues
Mr. Hall said the cost of sapphire glass comes in at about 10 times the price of Corning's Gorilla Glass, and until Apple can bring the cost down, it will simply be too expensive to use. "Although we have channel indications that some sapphire devices will be produced, we actually lean toward Apple selling no sapphire phones this year," he said.
Apple will be able to bring the cost down over the next year thanks to a company called Twin Creeks. The company has a unique process it calls "Hyperion" which makes building sapphire display glass significantly lower, and Twin Creeks was recently purchased by GT Advanced Technologies -- the company Apple has partnered with to manufacture sapphire glass for its products.
Mr. Hall's prediction sits in contrast to the idea that GT Advanced has been stockpiling sapphire for Apple over the past couple years, and that this fall's iPhone refresh will use the material for the display surface. GTAT produces sapphire glass for Apple, but it's the iPhone and iPad maker that owns the equipment the company is using. Apple may have already found a way to keep the manufacturing cost low enough to use this year, and may have enough raw material tucked away to use on all iPhone 6 models instead of a limited run of high-end devices.
Sapphire has the advantage of being incredibly strong -- so strong that you need diamonds to scratch it. A recent stress test video of what appears to be the sapphire glass surface from a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 showed the material to be incredibly flexible and resistant to scratching and breaking from a knife point, which should be more than enough to withstand keys and change in our pockets.
Whenever Apple does bring sapphire to the iPhone, Mr. Hall expects it will help drive sales.
"On sapphire as a feature — we see it as a huge phone seller. The screens are reportedly unscratchable (except by diamond) and virtually indestructible," he said. "We believe most people will want sapphire when and if it ever becomes available."
[Thanks to AppleInsider for the heads up]