It was just yesterday that analyst Matt Margolis speculated that Apple and its manufacturing partner GT Advanced – which operates a sophisticated sapphire plant in Arizona – can produce enough sapphire glass for both iPhone 6 models and now comes word that’s not really the case.
Taiwan’s Economic Daily News is out with a report claiming that only the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 model incorporates a sapphire-strengthened screen as Apple and GT continue to cope with yield issues and production limitations. As for Apple’s rumored iWatch, the paper says current prototypes of the wearable device are plagued with energy consumption issues related to its OLED screen…
Margolis, for Seeking Alpha yesterday:
As a result of my most recent supply chain check I believe that the Mesa sapphire operations will have ample supply to cover the iWatch, the 4.7-inch iPhone and the 5.5-inch iPhone with full sapphire cover glass in 2014.
Additionally, the maximum sapphire screen capacity of the Mesa facility is likely to exceed 200 million annual units.
The analyst, who goes by the Twitter handle @sapphirecover24 and is really well-versed in these things, has no doubt in his mind that Apple and GT are ready to ramp up production capacity to handle both the iWatch and new iPhone(s).
If he’s right, GT has installed more than 2,500 furnaces to work with sapphire boules weighing between 200 and 235 kg. However, opinions as to whether or not Apple and GT are capable to produce enough sapphire glass vary wildly.
According to Taiwan’s Economic Daily News newspaper [Google translate, via GforGames], only the bigger iPhone 6 model will feature a sapphire screen due to production limitations.
As far as the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 goes, it will allegedly be built in limited quantities due to low sapphire yield, leading to a limited supply in 2014, therefore contradicting a recent report which claimed that Apple will have enough sapphire for both iPhone 6 models AND the iWatch.
The 4.6-inch model will continue to use Corning’s Gorilla Glass, the story goes, with LG Display and Japan Display identified as principal screen suppliers.
Sapphire glass furnaces at Apple’s Mesa, Arizona plant.
As for the iWatch, Apple’s supplier LG Display appears to be unable to meet Apple’s exacting standards for OLED power consumption in standby mode. The issue has already prompted several delays because Apple’s demanding specifications require the iWatch’s screen to draw almost no power when in standby.
The device’s 1.3 to 1.6-inch OLED screen is being supplied exclusively by LG Display, with Quanta and Invented thought to be handling the bulk of iWatch production.
The report wraps up by reiterating that a formal iWatch introduction should be expected by Fall, with a price point of $349 and initial shipments pegged at approximately ten million units.