Apple iPhone 6 Release Sapphire Screens Still Possible as GT Advanced Works on Arizona Plant

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By Precious Silva | August 12, 2014 7:05 PM EST

The release of Apple's iPhone 6 has baffled many not just because of its release date but also because of the concerns surrounding sapphire screens. Some reports claim that it will be impossible for Apple to deliver sapphire-based products because of production problems. Nonetheless, GT Advanced's ongoing Arizona plant work should also support that sapphire-based Apple iPhones and tablets can soon hit the market. 

REUTERS/Yuya Shino/Files
Apple's new iPhone 5S is displayed at an Apple shop in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district in this September 20, 2013 file photo.

Many reports pointed out Apple iPhone 6's sapphire screen as one of its possible selling points. Despite reports about production delays, Apple appears on track with its production. It has procured considerable amount of sapphire materials for the iPhone 6 according to Tech Times. The company has also announced its Mesa, Ariz plant to work on sapphire. However, Yole Developments does not agree. The market research firm said that is impossible for Apple to include sapphire crystal on both versions of the iPhone 6. 

Yole said in its press release that finished sapphire yields and crystal growth have been low compared to the required amount. According to Yole: "If yields don't improve rapidly, Apple walking away from sapphire is still a possible scenario." 

"The company believes that moderate quantities of supplemental material is currently being sourced from GTAT equipment customers in China. But even if all partners manage to improve yields rapidly, Yole's analysis still excludes the possibility that sapphire can be used on all models of the new 2014 iPhone." 

Yole did not clarify whether Apple will be using composite with the crystal or only pure sapphire crystal. AppleInsider, on other hand reported GT Advanced's almost complete Arizona plant. This should help Apple and GT Advanced to produce more volumes of sapphire. During the second fiscal quarter results of the company, GTAT discussed about the 1.4 million-square-foot Arizona plant. The plant is part of the partnership with Apple and under Project Cascade. 

GT Advanced CEO Tom Gutierrez provided more insignt about the plant: "The build-out of our Arizona facility, which has involved taking a 1.4 million square foot facility from a shell to a functional structure as well as the installation of sapphire growth and fabrication equipment, is nearly complete and we are commencing the transition to volume production." 

The CEO also added that the company remains confident about the potential of sapphire in the long run.

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(Photo: REUTERS/Yuya Shino/Files / )
Apple's new iPhone 5S is displayed at an Apple shop in Tokyo's Ginza shopping district in this September 20, 2013 file photo.
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