Apple Said to Have Enough Sapphire Glass for Production of Both iPhone 6 Models and iWatch in 2014
Apple will reportedly have enough sapphire glass for both of its iPhone 6 models as well as the iWatch in 2014, based on the latest supply chain check at the company's sapphire glass manufacturing partner GT Advanced done by analyst Matt Margolis for Seeking Alpha (via GforGames).
As a result of my most recent supply chain check I believe that the Mesa sapphire operations will have ample supply to cover the iWatch, the 4.7" iPhone and the 5.5" iPhone with full sapphire cover glass in 2014. Additionally, the maximum sapphire screen capacity of the Mesa facility is likely to exceed 200m annual units.
Margolis notes that GT Advanced has installed more than 2,500 furnaces and is expected to work with sapphire boules that weigh between 200 and 235 kg. The plant is waiting for its final prepayment from Apple in order to finish construction and secure equipment, which is expected to be received by the end of this month.
In February, Margolis estimated that Apple would be gearing up for mass production of devices with sapphire displays, with equipment in the factory leading to a yield of anywhere from 100 to 200 million ~5-inch sapphire displays. A yield of over 200 million sapphire displays as indicated by this latest report means that Apple could possibly produce more than enough sapphire displays for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 and the iWatch.
Previous reports indicated that sapphire display supply constraints may force Apple to reserve the scratch resistant material for its larger iPhone models, with expenses perhaps driving up the retail price for consumers. Other reports suggested that initial sapphire production would target the iWatch instead of the iPhone 6, however the reported volume of raw material and equipment purchased would likely hint at bigger plans for sapphire display production.
Apple's 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is expected to be released later this year, with the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 launching near the end of 2014. In addition to a sapphire display, both phones will likely include a thinner profile, a faster A8 processor, and an improved camera. Meanwhile, the iWatch is expected to be revealed at an October event and may launch later that month.