iPhone 6 sapphire cover (Sonny Dickson 001)

Our favorite parts leaker, Australia-born Sonny Dickson, is back at it again with a new video that seems to offer a look at an alleged sapphire-strengthened cover glass, presumably for Apple’s next iPhone.

As you know, all iPhones models incorporate Gorilla Glass designed and produced by U.S.-based company Corning.

That being said, pundits have been calling for a sapphire iPhone ever since Apple earlier in the year confirmed prepaying over half a billion dollars to GT Advanced to secure multi-year supply of sapphire glass on an exclusive basis.

For those unfamiliar with sapphire, Wikipedia is your friend. In a nutshell, the precious gemstone’s hardness is second only to diamond, making it a no-brainer for the 4.7 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6…

Check it out below.

Not much to report here in terms of the specifics. The sapphire panel appears to be subjected to a limited bending stress test so we can’t really estimate its hardness compared to Gorilla Glass.

Dickson’s short clip is part of a longer video published by French blog Nowhereelse.fr [Google Translate]. It offers a nice side-by-side comparison against the iPhone 5s, have a look at it below.

Apple has recognized sapphire’s scratch resistance: rear camera lenses on iOS devices and the iPhone 5s’s Touch ID home button are both protected by sapphire. However, churning out sapphire-made cover glass for iPhones on an industrial scale comes with its own set of problems because sapphire productions is ten times more expensive than Gorilla Glass.

Also, the process is time consuming and requires disproportionally large amounts of energy. Pictured below: a 115kg cylindrical section of industrial sapphire called a “boule.”

GT Advanced (boule, Pocketnow 001).jpg

Dickson is a well-known parts leaker who has previously proved himself accurate with photos of genuine iPhone parts. That being said, take the video with a grain of salt: that thin sheet of sapphire could be an early prototype that has been abandoned or the real part belonging to a different device.

A sapphire-made smartphone display cover is 2.5 times stronger than Gorilla Glass and tougher than almost any material except for diamonds, leading some to call it a practically un-scratchable display coating.

Here’s a quick video tour of Apple’s Mesa plant by PocketNow. The facility is being exclusively operated on behalf of Apple by GT Advanced Technologies.

We know a great deal about the sophisticated factory, which can produce an estimated 200 million units of sapphire sheets measuring five inches diagonally. On the other hand, AppleInsider offers a number of solid arguments as to why all sapphire iPhone rumors recall Liquidmetal hype.

What do you think?

Will/should the iPhone 6 feature a sapphire-strengthened screen?