GT Advanced (furnaces, Pocketnow 001)

According to a new rumor by Taiwan’s Apple Daily, Apple’s favorite contract manufacturer, Foxconn, has ostensibly commenced trial production of the next iPhone, using sapphire as a display glass cover. The initial production run has been pegged at 100 units.

This doesn’t mean that the next iPhone will in fact ditch Corning’s Gorilla Glass for sapphire-strengthened display, mind you. Apple currently uses sapphire to protect iOS device cameras and Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5s from scratches and dings.

Earlier today, a video excerpt from ABC’s upcoming interview with CEO Tim Cook and other Apple executives brought the official confirmation of Apple’s plan to exclusively produce sapphire crystal glass components at its new facility in Mesa, Arizona

Apple Daily writes that Apple’s sapphire suppliers Synopsys and Bern Optics have made significant investments in cutting machines and other sophisticated equipment recently.

Both companies currently supply sapphire glass for iDevice iSight cameras and Touch ID sensors. According to the Taiwanese paper, Apple already consumes ten percent of the world’s manufactured sapphire.

MacRumors independently heard that Apple’s been working with a Swiss company called Meyer Burger Technologies to obtain new sapphire cutting machines.

We also know that a company called GT Advanced will own and operate pricey furnaces – depicted top of post – at the Arizona facility thanks to Apple’s prepayment of $578 million.

GT will pay back this sum over five years beginning in 2015.

Although Apple’s multi-year exclusive agreement with GT doesn’t guarantee volumes, GT is required to maintain a minimum level of capacity. The company’s 2014 revenue is expected to grow 15x thanks to the Apple deal.

Apple is now hiring engineers for that plant.

A recent patent filing titled ‘Sapphire Laminates’ indicated Apple has been actively working on processes that can make the expensive gemstone a viable option for the mass production of consumer electronics.

The patent application outlines the lamination of sapphire sheets, as well as sapphire-on-sapphire or sapphire-on-glass applications, resulting in the final sapphire laminate layer that’s just 1mm thick.

  • Rafael Castillo

    An iPhone with Sapphire glass would be PERFECTION. That is all.

    • onebyone_

      Yes. An expensive perfection. 🙂

      • Matt

        iPhone already is an expensive perfection.

      • ✪ aidan harris ✪

        So you add something like Sapphire to it and it then becomes a device that is unnecessarily expensive and perfect.

      • 4p0c4lyps3

        Agreed, without doubt.

    • jack

      Hmmm not really.. I saw a video on Youtube comparing Sapphire and Gorilla Glass 3, and Gorilla Glass 3 is much more stronger. Let’s just wait and see.

      • Sean Clark

        I’m curious as to the quality of sapphire used. I’m not an expert on this by any means but at a cursory glance, Gorilla glass has been reported to have a Mohs hardness scale rating of 7-9 whilst high quality synthetic sapphire has a rating of 9.

      • jack

        I’m not a mechanical enginner (I’m EE) but as far as I know there are a lot of properties to a material.. hardness, stiffness, clarity, compressive strenght, shear strenght, fatigue limit, etc… maybe sapphire is better only at clarity and scratch resistance?

      • bring_it_on

        Apple decision to go in for the more expensive sapphire solution would most likely have been after they have viewed other solutions that are available to them. And the latest and greatest from Gorrila glass is not something outside their reach. The fact that they have had to spend billions of dollars to build something suggests that they are aiming for goals and performance not easily had with materials and hardware currently available.

  • Ketan

    Quality always come with price, Apple always try to bring quality for their customers. It’s best to have two decent suits rather then ten different suits.

  • Prasoon Singh

    An iPhone with Sapphire glass would be amazing! No need for screen protectors now.

    • diggitydang

      I’m ultra paranoid though and would still use a screen protector until I knew for sure that screens wouldn’t scratch!

  • patrick

    I know its off-topic but does anyone knows how to make the Dock in ios 7 transparent, I tried to install dockshift aswell as transparentdock but they both give the error: package index files are corrupted.

    • Josh

      Classicdock. You can find it on bigboss repo

      • patrick

        Thanks man, got it

  • Andres

    That’s not bad especially for a bigger screen on the next iPhones, this will add se much needed protection.

    • Jonathan

      Who da heck downvoted you? 0_o

  • Is Sapphire better than Gorilla Glass? Why?

    • Jonathan

      As far as I know, it’s way harder and much more scratch resistant.

    • Noah Mospan

      It can only be scratched my diamond.