Expert Believes Alleged iPhone 6 Sapphire Front Panel Could Be 'Legitimate'

Earlier this week, numerous videos of the alleged front panel of the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 surfaced, which showed the screen being put through stress tests involving significant bending and scratching. While those videos referred to the front panel as being made of sapphire crystal, there was no way to confirm that the display were made of the durable material.

Now, professor Neil Alford, who is a member of the Department of Materials at the Imperial College in London, tells The Guardian that the alleged "sapphire panel" could "well be legitimate." Alford believes that the stress tests performed on the screen indicate that the panel is made of sapphire, adding that Apple likely overcame a number of challenges in making the part thin and durable.

Alford concurs: "In my opinion the screen being shown off in the video could well be a sapphire screen. If you make sapphire thin enough, and it’s flaw free, you can bend it quite considerably because it has an enormous strength."

He added: “I think they will be doing some sort of a lamination – binding different crystal cuts of sapphire together – boosting the toughness of the material, while they may also have induced some sort of a strain in the surface of the glass – either compression or tension – which means that it has extra strength,” he said.

Alford noted that Apple had contacted him in January 2013 to discuss sapphire screens, indicating that Apple has likely been hard at work on creating the screen afterward. Past rumors have suggested that Apple will be using a sapphire display in the iPhone 6, but other reports have claimed that the more durable material could be exclusive to the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6 due to supply constraints.

Apple's 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is expected to launch this September, while the larger 5.5-inch version has been rumored to be released at the same time. In addition to a larger display, both devices are likely to include a thinner housing, a faster A8 processor, and an improved camera.

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Top Rated Comments

peterdevries Avatar
129 months ago
A fine example of real innovation. This used to be a very expensive material used only in premium products or in very small components. By single handedly building production capacity for sapphire, Apple has enabled this premium raw material to become a cost effective and most likely superior alternative to Gorilla Glass.

Well done.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
kimvette Avatar
129 months ago
If that actually is a sapphire panel in the video, the flexibility hints that Apple has figured out how to resolve the brittle nature of sapphire, which is what has previously made it unsuitable for large smartphone screens. The reason sapphire works in bulletproof glass is it is in a laminate which can take the impact but sapphire by itself generally cannot without shattering.

Very interesting, and if Apple did indeed solve this huge problem, kudos to them - this really is innovation even though Samsung played around with prototypes and rejected them a few years ago.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Constable Odo Avatar
129 months ago
Must... use... Gorilla... Glass

That display can't be made of sapphire. Corning's CEO said that such a thing wasn't feasible and even if it was, Apple wouldn't be able to do it. Corning's CEO said the only useful display material was Gorilla Glass and any company that used any other display material would be in for a bag of hurt. So, there. :D

/s
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SilianRail Avatar
129 months ago
A 5.5" phone is TACKY. I'm going to be disgusted if sapphire screens aren't on the 4.7".
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
0087215 Avatar
129 months ago
Oh yes! I cannot wait anymore.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LordEntropy Avatar
129 months ago
Curious to know how this fairs in a drop test?
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)