Apple mulling use of sapphire displays in larger iPhones: report

Apple Inc is mulling the use of sapphire displays in more expensive models of the two larger iPhones it planned to launch this autumn, if it could get enough of the material, The Wall Street Journal, Telecompaper reported citing people familiar with the matter.

The first sapphire display screens for the iPhone and smartwatch would be rolled out this month at a facility in Mesa, Arizona, which Apple opened with materials manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies. Synthetic sapphire cannot be as easily scratched as glass and is being used in the iPhone camera lens and fingerprint reader.

The cost of production of a sapphire screen would work out to $16, as against around $3 for Corning Gorilla Glass, currently used in iPhones, according to Eric Virey, senior analyst at French researcher Yole Development.

According to Corning, Gorilla Glass outperformed sapphire in drop tests and it reflected less light than sapphire, making it easier to view in the sunlight.

According to GT CEO Tom Gutierrez, who recently spoke to analysts, the facility was starting the transition to high-volume production and full operational efficiency would be reached early next year.

Meanwhile, according to commentators, it looked as though Apple intended to put the sapphire glass displays on the more expensive variants of its 4.7'' iPhone 6 as also the 5.5'' iPhone 6L, which was fine, Ubergizmo reported.

Brokerage firm JP Morgan too had reported not long ago that sapphire glass could be used on 128GB 4.7'' iPhone 6, while KGI securities' Apple analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo, mentioned that the 64GB model of the 5.5'' iPhone would be able to handle sapphire glass.

However, whether this meant more affordable models would come with Corning Gorilla Glass 3, only time would reveal.