There are high chances for the new 5.5 inches version of the iPhone 6 to have a display made of sapphire crystals, the third strongest material in the world.
Eighteen months ago, Apple had several discussions with experts in the domain in order to use sapphires for its new iPhone 6, reported the Guardian.
The virtual community has been invaded by a YouTube video presenting a 4.7 inches phone (supposed to be the smaller version of iPhone 6) scratched with a knife, with keys and bent beyond normal standards.
Professor Neil Alford, employee of the department materials within Imperial College, London said that in his opinion Apple had been rather cunning. He stated that he believed that the company had manufactured a screen made of sapphire which was capable to resist any hardship including scratches and bending.
It is a well-known fact that Apple has already used sapphire crystals for the production of its iPhone 5 camera lenses as well as for the finger print sensor belonging to the same iPhone version. However, the sapphire crystals are a better choice if the desire is to make some highly resistant screens that could out pass normal glass and even the famous Gorilla Glass which for the time being is used to cover the screen of most smart phones as well as tablets.
However, this could be quite a costly movement. Thus, the 4.7 inches iPhone shown in the YouTube video has an area of approximately 9.5 square inches. Figures reveal that every quarter, the electronic giant sell about ten million phone units. This means that ten meters of 4.7 inches phones with a sapphire screen would actually need 6 hectares or if you want, 61,290 square meters of the sapphire crystal glass.
Apple joint forces with GT Advanced years ago in order to produce sapphire in huge quantities needed for a very important component. The trade documents state that the sapphire would be sent in other countries for the assembly processes. In this case, reference could have been made to touch sensors but to mobile screens as well.
Sapphire crystals are not made from standard glass which contains silicon dioxide, but from aluminium oxide powder. After being heated and cooled this powder may be cut and modelled in glass layers, commonly known as sapphire glass. This material is not something new on the market. It has been used for the production of camera lenses and watch screens due to its durability, transparency and resistance.
Alford has spoken about its meeting with the Apple representatives and their interest in using sapphire to produce screens. He believes that since that visit, which occurred eighteen months ago, Apple has been busy producing the sapphire screens. He has also explained that sapphire has been used for the manufacturing of electronic components for some years now. Alford has watched and made comments on Marques Brownlee’s video, in which he “stabs” the phone screen with a pointed knife, then scratches it with his keys and finally bends it under his shoes. The result: a perfect screen, without the slightest damage. Brownlee received the part from the well-known blogger Sonny Dickson. Brownlee told the Guardian journalists that he was quite sure that the screen was made by Apple. In the beginning he had his doubts and though it was just another Gorilla Glass screen, but after performing all those extreme tests he was sure that he was dealing with a sapphire made screen.
Brownlee’s opinion was backed up by Alford’s affirmations, who said that the screen presented in the video might be a sapphire one. He explained that if the sapphire was thin enough and if it was without flaws, than it could be bent beyond the normal limits due to its abnormal strength. In his opinion Apple might be doing a lamination of some sort. They might be binding various crystal sapphire cuts in order to bind them together. He also said that there were high chances for some strain to have been introduced in the glass so as to boost its strength.
Sapphire is a material that is by far more advantageous than glass, but unfortunately is quite expensive although there are plenty of raw materials for its production. The manufacturing of artificial sapphire is not a very difficult problem when it comes to small electronic components; it is quite like producing artificial diamonds for jewellery.
Alford explained the greatest problem was the processes of polishing sapphire due to its hardness. He expressed his believes that the manufacturers would have to use slices of diamonds in order to properly cut sapphire. He also explained that costs were the only problem of having sapphire crystals as part of an iPhone.
There are high chances for Apple and its partner producing sapphires to have patented the process for making sapphire crystals screen. This means that producers like Corning, manufacturer of the Gorilla Glass, will not be allowed to create replicates of the Apple screens.