A new report from DigiTimes Research is claiming that GT Advanced, the company that has partnered with Apple to open a sapphire plant in Mesa, Arizona, will only be able to produce anywhere from 9% to 16% of sapphire displays for Apple's next generation iPhone. The report's estimation was based on the company's forecast sales of $188 to $348 million, which indicates that Apple will be able to output roughly 6.3 to 11.6 million sapphire displays.

gt_advanced_logo

Assuming that the new-generation iPhone will have a 5-inch screen, then the forecast sapphire revenues are translated into output of 6.27-11.6 million 5-inch sapphire-made screen covers. As Digitimes Research estimates that Apple will ship 70 million units of the new-generation iPhone in 2014, the output of sapphire screen covers frm GTAT will account for 9.0-16.6% of the iPhone shipments.

However, the details in the report strongly contrast that of an account from analyst Matt Margoils last month, who stated that GT Advanced purchased and received a total of 518 sapphire furnace and chamber systems with another 420 machines on order.

The analyst estimated that with the sheer amount of the equipment contained in its factory, GT Advanced could produce between 103 and 116 million displays per year, with an additional 84 to 94 million possible. This would indicate that Apple could produce 100 to 200 million ~5-inch sapphire displays, which would be enough for its entire line of devices. For reference, Apple sold approximately 150 million iPhones in 2013.

The integration of a larger, scratch-resistant sapphire display is widely rumored to be one of the key new features for the iPhone 6, as the company currently uses the material for small iPhone elements such as the camera lens and the home button of the iPhone 5s.

Apple is also said to be in the process of a trial run for an iPhone using a sapphire display, as CEO Tim Cook indicated during last month's shareholders meeting that the company's sapphire production facility was for a "secret project" he could not talk about. Apple's next-generation iPhone is expected to be revealed later this year.

Update: Analyst Matt Margolis calls Digitimes' analysis "meritless", noting a number of issues such as a lack of any specific sapphire revenue disclosures from GT and Digitimes' unrealistically high estimated cost per display.

Top Rated Comments

RichTF Avatar
101 months ago
Gorilla glass is hard to beat from a bunch of perspectives... Sapphire does however, have a cool name, and sometimes that's enough...
Well, that and the fact that it's objectively harder (i.e.: scratch resistant). But discussing objective facts isn't as cool as casually dismissing stuff.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gobeatty Avatar
101 months ago
This one may be easy. Top Secret Project = iWatch. Sapphire is a great choice for scratch-resistant watch glass.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kobyh15 Avatar
101 months ago
This one may be easy. Top Secret Project = iWatch. Sapphire is a great choice for scratch-resistant watch glass.

On the money. Sapphire is used in watches. Makes sense Apple would use it on the iWatch.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
wigby Avatar
101 months ago
Can someone explain the logic of this to me? Build most of the phone out in china and then ship it to the US and then fit the display? And then ship to Australia? Or ship displays to China, and then the whole phone back to the US? Or build it all in the US? Or just fit this glass to US sold phones? Eh?

it's not like they have to fit each phone individually.

----------

nobody as cool as you Rich.

Yes - Sapphire has some benefits - but are they worth the significant cost and production complexity? For the whole screen of an i-device, my opinion is I don't think so. So, my point is that the main advantage is the marketing angle, the cool, new name.

the great thing is that you don't have to worry about it. apple's not going to change the price of an iPhone and they're not going to change to a noticeably inferior material. there are pros and cons to every material. they are changing out hundreds of components in the next iPhone model that we don't know about. let them sort out the details and you can just buy or not buy your phone when it comes time.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
everything-i Avatar
101 months ago
The words DigiTimes and Research used together... Move along, nothing to see here. :D
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jonyive4 Avatar
101 months ago
stupid DIGITIMES
NOT ONLY are they unreliable, I own a substantial amount of stocks in this company. **** DIGITIMES.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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