Prior to the release of the new iPhone 6, numerous reports and rumors indicated that it would come with a glass screen made out of sapphire. This speculation arose when Apple bought $578 million worth of sapphire through a partnership with GT Advanced, a company that manufactures sapphire. Given the huge purchase, it seemed safe to assume that Apple would be incorporating the material into its newest iPhone, but that is not what happened.
According to various sources, sapphire is a material that does not scratch and is unbreakable. The current iPhone’s screen is made from Corning’s Gorilla Glass, a curved glass strengthened with ion that is rather impervious to scratches, but still not as effective as sapphire. Sapphire’s apparent edge over the current material being used has caused many to question why Apple decided not to use it in the newest model. Many have suggested that it was due to manufacturing issues and that Apple just needed more time to develop the product. However, after extensive research and examination of the pros and cons of using sapphire, it seems understandable why Apple decided to use Gorilla Glass instead of sapphire. There is a strategic and purposeful reason behind Apple’s continued usage of Gorilla Glass. Rather than supposed production issues, Apple’s choice to stick with Gorilla Glass has more to do with consumer preferences, how people actually use phones and the amount of money they are willing to pay for them.
Here are a few reasons why glass continues to be used instead of sapphire:
The current trend in smartphones is an appreciation for thinner, lighter devices that are also bigger is size. In order to make a smartphone bigger while also keeping the weight down, manufacturers would need to use lighter material. Sapphire is more than 30% denser than glass and would need to compromise both size and density in order to be popular amongst consumers. Gorilla Glass is purported to be thinner than a sheet of paper and strengthened with a process that makes it more damage-resistant. Because it is extremely thin and can be chemically manufactured to resist damage, glass is more flexible and can be molded into the sleek designs you see on the iPhone 6 and others. Sapphire is much more bulky and does not have the same flexibility in shape, meaning more cost and production issues on larger surfaces.
The brightness of the screen contributes greatly to the draining of battery life. According to researchers, glass transmits light much more effectively than sapphire, meaning that sapphire requires more energy to get the same level of brightness as glass does.
Effects on the Environment
Manufacturers are aware that consumers are becoming more and more environmentally conscious and factor this consideration into the products that they buy. It takes 100 times more energy to produce sapphire than it does to produce glass. This fact alone makes sapphire a less viable option for the iPhone.
The cost of producing one sheet of sapphire is roughly 10 times that of glass. As Apple is already charging on the high end in comparison to other phones similar to the iPhone, this would force Apple to hike up their prices even more, much to the disappointment of consumers.
This article was contributed by Luminous Glass Distributors, a Miami manufacturer of impact resistant glass. Visit them at www.lgdglass.com.