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Apple/GT sapphire plant begins shipping trial amounts to China

updated 02:52 pm EDT, Wed April 30, 2014

Fraction of planned furnaces reportedly online

The Arizona sapphire plant operated by Apple and GT Advanced Technologies started production last month in a 100-furnace trial, claims UBS analyst Stephen Chin. The material was allegedly shipped to one of Apple's manufacturing partners in China. From there, it's believed to have gone into the Touch ID sensors and camera lens covers for the iPhone 5s, which already use sapphire from other suppliers.

100 furnaces is just a fraction of the 1,500 GT is expected to install in the first half of 2014. The value of last month's shipment is estimated to be about $1 million; Chin suggests that by the time the Arizona plant ramps up, the Chinese supplier will receive about $50 million in sapphire every month. Last week, meanwhile, GT acknowledged receiving its third prepayment from Apple. Chin argues that it will probably receive a fourth and final prepayment in May.

GT is also reportedly selling the sapphire at a cost 25 percent lower than Apple's other suppliers. That could be critical going forward, since Apple is believed to be expanding the use of sapphire to other products, including possibly display covers for the iWatch and/or the iPhone 6.

by MacNN Staff



  1. jdonahoe

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 07-05-06

    Is it the sapphire surfaces possible for the iPhone6 the reason for all the speculation that Apple will be raising prices on new iPhones? A complete front surface for the iPhone made of sapphire has to be pricey.

  1. iphonerulez

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 11-28-08

    The numbers sound impressive but I have no idea what other synthetic sapphire producing companies are putting out in terms of production. Naturally, I'm hoping Apple is practically cornering the market on sapphire but only because there seems to be a world-wide need for sapphire for any number of applications. It would be nice if Apple can bring the cost of synthetic sapphire down. It would be useful to have a high-end knife that never needs sharpening.

  1. jdonahoe

    Forum Regular

    Joined: 07-05-06

    I know that Citizen and other higher end watch companies make versions with sapphire crystals, although I would think they use a thicker version for the watches than what would be put in an iPhone.

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