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Gorilla Glass Could Be Replaced By Sapphire In Future iPhones

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According to a report by Technology Review, Sapphire, which is harder than any other natural material except diamond, may soon become cheap enough to replace Gorilla Glass, the durable material from Corning that’s used to make screens on iPhones and other smartphones. Sapphire is three times stronger and more scratch resistant than Gorilla Glass, which is why Apple uses it now to protect the iPhone 5 camera.

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Analyst Eric Virey says that a Gorilla Glass display costs less than $3, while a sapphire display would cost about $30. However, that price could fall below $20 in a couple of years thanks to increased competition and improving technology. He speculates that some manufacturers will start testing the Sapphire display and may even release some high-end smartphones using it later this year. He added that an alternative to using pure sapphire is to laminate an ultrathin layer of sapphire with a cheaper transparent material.

GT Advanced Technologies, based in Nashua, New Hampshire, is developing a method for making sapphire sheets thinner than a human hair—much thinner than the nearly millimeter-thick glass used now on mobile phones. 

GT is also cutting the cost of sapphire manufacturing by following the strategy that it used over the last several years to reduce the cost of making crystalline silicon for solar cells.

GT Technologies estimates that sapphire displays might cost only three to four times as much as those made from Gorilla Glass.

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  • Arcanum

    If the difference is only $27 for the sapphire screen right now, up the price of the phone by $30 and I will gladly pay it. I am tired of seeing little scratches on the screen of my phone. Not a big deal, but if that is all it takes to basically eliminate the issue it seems pretty cheap to me.

  • Mark

    Even though that makes sense (and is likely a better solution than adding a post-market film cover), it will possibly change the magic price point. A $27 difference is a HUGE mental thing when it becomes a numbers game for the phone ($199 vs $229, or whatever). Marketing a price would likely win out over marketing a feature for added cost.

    There’s the laminate idea, but what USMAN failed to elaborate on was that the even cheaper laminate option would not be as good, and that Corning is coming out with a new version of Gorilla Glass (version 3) that is about 2 or 3 times as strong (as version 2). So, when you compare those two options, the new (presumably cheaper) Gorilla Glass which is almost as good, or better than, the saphire laminate, is the more logical choice.

  • All excellent points. I was thinking about Gorilla Glass 3 as well. I would pay an extra 30$ for a true sapphire screen, but that’s because I’m a technology geek and I read blogs like this one (so I am informed). You’re right that most people wouldn’t want that premium. Would be fun to have the option to pay extra for a sapphire screen! But clearly that’s not a strategy Apple would adopt.

  • Jeve Stobs

    Stfu Mark – you think you’re smart or something? Just stfu you foig

  • Mark

    If you are having difficulty comprehending what I wrote, I recommend returning to complete your high school education – and then maybe college.

  • Cletus.

    There’s none of dem der colleges in the bayou 🙁

  • What about the dark brown van down by the river? No free classes there? 😉

  • Cletus

    Cues my English…. Ol Jeve sat behind me in grade 1…. We both dropped out the next day.

  • Cletus

    Nope…. Dat der Jeves house.

  • ????Dennis

    How much do people spend on screen protectors? Apple needs to have 2 versions of their phone. Basic model has gorilla glass and the higher end version has sapphire. I would pay the premium And I’m sure the hoardes of Apple fanboys that need the greatest and latest will as well. The iPhones hardware would also overshadow the cheaply made samsungs even more so, thus elevating Apple’s stigma of having a higher end premium device.

  • Please do

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