According to a MIT Technology Review report published recently (and spotted by the good folks at MacRumors), Apple and other smartphone makers might, in the near future, switch to Sapphire crystals for the glass screen over the smartphone displays.
Right now, Apple and other leading smartphone manufacturers like Samsung use Corning’s Gorilla Glass, one of the sturdiest glass screens available in the market.
Sapphire, produced synthetically, is a crystalline form of aluminum oxide. It’s several times stronger and harder than Gorilla Glass and it’s key feature is that it prevents scratches. Under the most stringent tests, sapphire crystal is known to be anti-scratch.
That is perhaps why Apple chose to include a sapphire crystal on the iSight lens.
The lens is a tricky thing. If there’s even a slight scratch on the iPhone lens, you’re going to end up with photos that aren’t going to be up to the mark. Which is precisely why Apple had worked on trying to make it scratch-free. The result was sapphire.
Why, then, did Apple not use sapphire on the display? Why Gorilla Glass? The answer lies in the cost, of course.
The report states that the sapphire crystal glass designed for the iPhone may cost as much as $30 presently. At its least, the cost should be around $20 for a single iPhone’s display. Compare that to the $3 Gorilla Glass and you get the picture.
However, what’s promising is that technological advancement and competition is really forcing the prices down. While sapphire may not end up being as cheap as Gorilla Glass or Gorilla Glass 3 (the latest from Corning), it might definitely be incorporated into the iPhones and other smartphones in the near future. In fact, it’s becoming so popular that a few smartphones slated for the end of this year are already using them. Needless to say, they’re going to cost you an arm and a leg for the moment.
If you ask us if the Apple iPhone 5S or iPhone 6 would feature sapphire, I’d say “no” emphatically. Technologies like these take a long time before they become mainstream enough at least for Apple. Apple, even with its streak of jumping on new technologies (however crazy it may seem at that point of time) would probably take a couple of years before jumping on this one.