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Sapphire production insufficient for iPhone 6 displays, analysts say

updated 01:43 pm EDT, Tue July 29, 2014

Supply chain numbers may only support limited run of sapphire models

Supply chain orders so far don't support the idea of the iPhone 6 using sapphire for its display, except perhaps in limited numbers, according to analysts with Trendforce. "Analysis of the iPhone 6 supply chain indicates related component suppliers need to ship products to OEMs for assembly in June 2014 to meet the September launch date. Yet, the research institute did not discover demands for smartphone cover glass," the firm writes. "The sapphire glass version new iPhone will be issued in limited volumes this year, mostly because sapphire ingot manufacturers yield rates were lower than forecasts and [because of] issues involved in sapphire glass processing."

It's suggested that Apple's current use of sapphire -- in camera lenses and Touch ID sensors -- should be enough to keep up sapphire demand through the rest of 2014. It's in fact argued that the iWatch might not use sapphire either, since mass-producing it for even 2.5-inch displays could be "problematic," especially if Apple chooses to use flexible OLED panels.

Despite problems with cost and manufacturing, sapphire is highly desirable for mobile devices, as it's significantly tougher than material like the Gorilla Glass used on many smartphones and tablets -- including Apple's. It's virtually impossible to scratch, and harder to break.




by MacNN Staff

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Comments

  1. msuper69

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 01-16-00

    These "analysts" don't know crap.

  1. twolf2919

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 05-14-13

    The "analyst" cites lack of change-in-demand for sapphire as evidence that Apple won't be using the material in its forthcoming iPhone 6. But I don't see the correlation. If, as has been widely reported, Apple's entire sapphire demand will be met by one manufacturer (GTAT) and that manufacturer will not be selling to anyone else, why would global sapphire demand show a change? Is the guess that, because Apple is rumored to be using the material, other smartphone makers must be clamoring for the material, trying to copy Apple? I find that highly doubtful, given that other sapphire manufacturers cannot produce the material at the cost or scale GTAT can (with Apple's help).

  1. qazwart

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 04-10-01

    This covers everything! If the iPhone 6 comes out and doesn't have sapphire glass, then there was a problem in the supply chain and the rumors were correct. If the iPhone 6 comes out and does have sapphire glass, then the initial rumors that the iPhone 6 will have sapphire glass were also correct! You can't lose. The same thing is true about the two sizes of iPhone. The rumors state that the bigger iPhone was planned, but there are "production issues". Now if the bigger iPhone comes out, the rumors were correct: There are two iPhones! If not, the rumors are still correct. The big one didn't come out because of those production issues. Either way, the rumor is correct.

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