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Amid Sapphire iPhone 6 Rumors, Kyocera Announces Plans for New Smartphone With Sapphire Display
The video teases a product called "Sapphire Shield," which Kyocera says is a "truly affordable pure sapphire display." According to a Kyocera representative that spoke to MacRumors, Kyocera's Sapphire Shield display will be used in upcoming Kyocera smartphones, giving the devices a competitive edge when it comes to durability.
Kyocera's official video follows an unofficial video leaked last week by a YouTube user and shared by CNET, comparing Kyocera's sapphire display to a piece of impact resistant glass. The two displays are scratched with rocks, presumably concrete, and while the glass is irreversibly marred, the sapphire comes away unscathed. The sapphire display also manages to survive a drop test that shatters the standard glass.
Kyocera is the first mainstream smartphone company to officially announce plans to utilize a sapphire display, but rumors have suggested that Apple is also planning to use a sapphire display in at least some models of the iPhone 6. Stress tests on the rumored front panel of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 were published earlier this month showing the panel's extreme durability as it withstood scratching and bending, but it remains unclear if the front panel is indeed sapphire or the almost-equally-tough Gorilla Glass.
Major smartphone companies like LG have researched sapphire, but have largely said that sapphire is impractical due to the material's limited supply and its high cost. In a report last week, one smartphone representative suggested the only reason to use sapphire was for marketing purposes, given the much lower price of Gorilla Glass.
Currently, luxury smartphone manufacturer Vertu uses sapphire displays in devices that cost upwards of $10,000. Apple's partnership with GT Advanced, however, reportedly allows it to create sapphire at a much lower price point and Kyocera also claims that its own sapphire is "affordable."
Kyocera has not released details on when its sapphire-covered smartphone might debut, but we may get our first look at a mainstream sapphire smartphone later this year if Apple's upcoming iPhone 6, due to be introduced in September, does indeed utilize the material.