Apple partner and sapphire glass manufacturer GT Advanced is estimated to produce anywhere from 1.35 to 2.25 million sapphire covers for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 by the end of 2014, according to a report from Digitimes Research.
GTAT started sapphire production in August 2014 and expects revenue contributions from sapphire to begin in the fourth quarter, and Apple's fourth down payment is due in October 2014, these conditions signal that GTAT's sapphire production will not reach a large scale by the end of 2014, Digitimes Research indicated. However, GTAT is likely to ship sapphire at a large volume beginning the first quarter of 2015.
A yield of only 1.35 to 2.25 million sapphire glass covers for the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 would likely mean that Apple would delay the launch of the larger device until next year or release it in extremely limited quantities.
Such a small yield would also contrast earlier reports about the iPhone 6's record-setting initial production run, as Apple was said to be preparing between 70 and 80 million 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 units for this year. Reports of Apple's production issues with the 5.5-inch iPhone 6's display and metal casing may also suggested that the larger device will launch in 2015.
Analyst estimates of the use of sapphire in the iPhone 6 have varied widely, with some claiming that the material will only be limited to high-end versions of the iPhone 6, while others have stated that Apple will have more than enough supply for all models.
Previously, Digitimes Research claimed that GT Advanced would only be supplying 9% to 16% of iPhone 6 sapphire displays, or roughly 6.3 to 11.6 million cover units. Those numbers were discredited by analyst Matt Margolis, who discredited the repot due to a lack of any specific revenue disclosures from GT and unrealistically high estimated cost per display.
Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 6 on September 9. It is most certain that the company will reveal the 4.7-inch version at its event, however it is unknown if the 5.5-inch version will also be revealed. Both models will likely feature a thinner profile, a faster A8 chip, an improved camera, and more.