Apple Spends Half a Billion on iPhone 6's Rumoured Sapphire Glass Feature

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By Karla Danica Figuerres | November 29, 2013 1:11 PM EST

The iPhone 6 could feature sapphire glass display that doesn't scratch even if concrete is rubbed on it, as Apple put half a billion dollars on the technology.

Currently, sapphire glass is already seen on the Touch ID home button and the lens cover of the iPhone 5s, but it is rumoured that the whole display of the much anticipated iPhone 6 will be turned into sapphire glass that can handle a significant amount of abuse.

According to the marketing director at GT Advanced Technology, Jeff Nestel-Patt, the technology is "virtually scratch free." Sapphire glass is approximately 2.5 times more durable than the famous Corning Gorilla Glass which is utilised in several smartphones in the market today. As a matter of fact, the sapphire glass can simply break pieces of concrete leaving no scratches on it.

As of the moment, there are two factors being considered on incorporating the sapphire glass on the new iPhone 6 - the full-scale production and the cost of the material itself. GT Advanced Technologies reported that the cost of the sapphire glass will be four times the cost of the chemically strengthened glass. However, Mr Nestel further said that the mass production can significantly lower the cost and this will be seen as a standard feature of future smartphones.

The vice president of business development and product management at GT Advanced Technologies, Linda Reinhard, described their product as, "ASF-grown sapphire's durability and resistance to scratching makes it ideally suited for a wide range of cover and touch screen applications from ruggedized phones, camera covers, point of sale devices and smartphone and touch screen devices. Other reinforced glass and cover screen technologies try to emulate what ASF-grown sapphire does naturally."

Apple paid a total of $578 million to GT Advanced Technologies to speed up "the development of its next generation, large capacity ASF furnaces to deliver low cost, high volume manufacturing of sapphire material." This move is meant to keep the costs of the sapphire screen lower which will be allegedly utilised on Apple's next flagship smartphone - the iPhone 6.

In 2014, the iPhone 6, with a totally new design, is expected to be launched and released. A couple of analysts predict that the iPhone 6 will sport a bigger display and a new design, but the sapphire glass remains elusive at this point.   

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