The potential sapphire display of the iPhone 6 has been rumored, substantiated and confirmed several times over the past year, but all we’ve ever heard about sapphire are its advantages.
It’s durable, it’s scratch-resistant and Apple has even had experience using it in the past on protective glass covering the iPhone camera and the home button of the 5s, but there must be a downside, right?
Right. Engadget’s Brad Molen spoke with several influential representatives of the smartphone industry to put together the other side of the story, and all of a sudden, sapphire isn’t looking quite like the dream material we thought it might be.
“The cost and supply aren’t where we’d like them to be for sapphire to be practical just yet,” LG spokesman Ken Hong told Engadget. “Sapphire’s durability and scratch-resistance are certainly attractive, but Gorilla Glass isn’t going to be displaced anytime soon.”
Gorilla Glass is simply more affordable and more easily available to manufacturers. Gorilla Glass is also significantly lighter than sapphire, which will become increasingly important as our phones and tablets continue to grow in size. And although sapphire is extraordinarily durable, it can still be broken. In fact, “[it’s] easier to break during drop tests when the size of sapphire increases,” another representative said to Molen.
Yet another representative said that Apple would only consider using sapphire if there was “some perceived marketing advantage.” Thinking back to last year’s iPhone 5s reveal, that’s exactly why Apple would pay a little extra for a material that might not be ready for prime time. Apple could spin its sapphire display the same way it spun the 64-bit processor of the 5s — a premium component that the competition can’t match.