Rising Sapphire Display Cost May Limit Production of 5.5-Inch iPhone 6

A new post on Weibo citing supply chain sources (Google Translate, via GforGames) claims Apple's 5.5-inch iPhone may see a limited production volume due to the use of high quality sapphire as a display material. According to the report, the high cost of producing the sapphire may hinder Apple's ability to include the scratch-resistant material in a large number of its smartphone models.

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The report notes that Apple's sapphire display may cost 1743 yuan (or $280) in materials, which is a significant jump over the $44 estimated for the 4-inch Retina display used in the iPhone 5s. This extra expense could increase the retail price of the next generation iPhone by approximately 50 percent, which may price the smartphone beyond the affordability point for most consumers.

These latest reports suggest that the sapphire screen costs around 1743 yuan (or $280), which would raise the final cost of the device to about 8000 yuan (or $1285) – at least in China. At the moment, the 16 GB iPhone 5S costs 5288 yuan in China ($850), whereas the beefier 64 GB variant is retailed at the price of 6888 yuan (or $1106)

This rumor corresponds with an earlier report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who suggested that supply constraints may force Apple to reserve the sapphire display for premium iPhone models such as the 64GB version of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6.

Though Apple still buys sapphire from third-party suppliers, the company is starting to produce the material in small quantities at its Arizona facility. The sapphire production plant, which is financed by Apple and operated by GT Advanced, is expected to produce between 100 and 200 million sapphire displays, enough for an entire line of devices when it reaches full operating capacity.

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Top Rated Comments

tethernaut Avatar
133 months ago
Morons. Sapphire prices have skyrocketed because Apple has cornered the market... at a favorable price. What others would have to pay for a sapphire display is not what Apple will have to pay for a sapphire display.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
tkanyc Avatar
133 months ago
Sapphire makes no sense for iPhone

As a gemologist, I'm very familiar with sapphire's durability and usefulness in certain applications. They're used for high end watch crystals because they're very scratch resistant. They do chip and abrade, however. And they're not flexible. I have doubts that sapphire would provide significant net durability benefits over Corning's Gorilla Glass, and that's before cost/benefit considerations.

Count me as one who thinks that Apple's sapphire displays will remain on small screens only (iWatch, iPod Nano, etc), and won't supplant Gorilla Glass for iPhone.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CCCowley Avatar
133 months ago
this wasn't thought through very well by a̶p̶p̶l̶e̶ the people reporting it.
ftfy
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Keniutek Avatar
133 months ago
Forgive my ignorance, but does this mean a sapphire phone won't shatter if I drop it? That's pretty huge IMO.

Oh, it'll shatter pretty nicely. It won't scratch though ;)
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
danielowenuk Avatar
133 months ago
They just won't do it, it's far to much of a jump in component cost for the benefit of what apple would see.

Providing a stronger glass does what for Apple? Are there millions of people never buying an iPhone again because the screen smashed?

It's not a big enough selling point to warrant that sort of price increase.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Quu Avatar
133 months ago
I don't understand what this has to do with Apple when they are manufacturing the Sapphire themselves and from what I understand they build a block of sapphire using only a tiny piece of sapphire as a catalyst, it grows like a crystal so how would the cost of Sapphire affect them if they are growing their own sapphire blocks?
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)