Sapphire Displays for iPhone 6 Missed by 'Weeks' Due to Yield Issues

iphone_6_front_panel_weiboOne of the biggest rumors for the iPhone 6 was a new sapphire display cover courtesy of Apple's partnership with GT Advanced Technologies. Some rumors had suggested sapphire might be limited to high-end models, but at the device's unveiling earlier this week the feature was nowhere to be found on any of the new models.

GT's stock took a significant hit as it became clear the iPhone 6 was not using a sapphire display, and analyst Matt Margolis has issued a new report based on supply chain sources claiming sapphire displays missed being included in the iPhone 6 by just "weeks".

According to Margolis' sources, the issue was not GT's production, as the company is said to have been steadily shipping out sapphire from its factory in Mesa, Arizona. The issue appears to have occurred in the next step in the supply chain, where finishers in China struggled with yield issues turning the sapphire into display covers.

The issue that emerged is that the finishers were still having trouble creating the sapphire edges and yields were only at 25% or less. I am under the impression that GT’s management knew about this last minute shift away from sapphire screens prior to the August 5th conference call and it may have resulted in lower guidance for 2014 by $100m.

Margolis reports the sapphire supplies have been diverted for the Apple Watch for the time being as the finishing yield issues on the iPhone displays is resolved, and GT continues to manufacture sapphire as rapidly as it can.

What is unclear is how the omission of sapphire displays from the iPhone 6 will affect GT's deal with Apple, which involves certain milestone payments from Apple to GT. It appears unlikely that Apple would bring sapphire to the iPhone until it unveils an "iPhone 6s" a year from now, so it is not entirely clear whether it needs or wants to stockpile GT's output for an entire year or if it has other nearer-term plans for the material beyond the Apple Watch.

I believe GT and Apple still have very big plans for sapphire as a cover screen on mobile devices. Apple may pay continue to pay GT for sapphire bricks that they ship even though the iPhone is not covered up by a sapphire cover screen. Another option thrown on the table is that Apple could even push back the Apple prepayment requirements until the finishing yields are addressed. One item that remains clear is that GT will continue to push out as much sapphire as humanly possible from Mesa.

Apple's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus without sapphire display covers will see pre-orders launch in a number of countries at 12:01 AM Pacific Time tonight, with availability coming on September 19.

Update: Cult of Mac has received evidence of a delivery confirmation showing nearly two tons of sapphire being shipped from Lens Technology back to GT, perhaps for reprocessing before being reused for another purpose.

Related Forum: iPhone

Popular Stories

iPhone 16 Pro Sizes Feature

iPhone 16 Series Is Just Two Months Away: Everything We Know

Monday July 15, 2024 4:44 am PDT by
Apple typically releases its new iPhone series around mid-September, which means we are about two months out from the launch of the iPhone 16. Like the iPhone 15 series, this year's lineup is expected to stick with four models – iPhone 16, iPhone 16 Plus, iPhone 16 Pro, and iPhone 16 Pro Max – although there are plenty of design differences and new features to take into account. To bring ...
macbook pro january

Best Buy's Black Friday in July Sale Takes Up to $700 Off M3 MacBook Pro for Members

Monday July 15, 2024 11:05 am PDT by
Best Buy's "Black Friday in July" sale is in full swing today, and in addition to a few iPad Air discounts we shared earlier, there are also some steep markdowns on the M3 MacBook Pro. You will need a My Best Buy Plus or Total membership in order to get some of these deals. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small...
ipaos 18 image playground

Apple Releases First iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 Public Betas

Monday July 15, 2024 1:16 pm PDT by
Apple today provided the first betas of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to public beta testers, bringing the new software to the general public for the first time since the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Apple has seeded three developer betas so far, and the first public beta includes the same content that's in the third developer beta. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. ...
maxresdefault

Apple's AirPods Pro 2 vs. Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro

Saturday July 13, 2024 8:00 am PDT by
Samsung this week introduced its latest earbuds, the Galaxy Buds3 Pro, which look quite a bit like Apple's AirPods Pro 2. Given the similarities, we thought we'd compare Samsung's new earbuds to the AirPods Pro. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, you could potentially mistake Samsung's Galaxy Buds3 Pro for the AirPods Pro. The Buds3 Pro have the same...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

10 Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Monday July 8, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models simultaneously, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different – already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
Generic iOS 18 Feature Real Mock

Apple Seeds Revised Third Betas of iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to Developers

Monday July 15, 2024 10:09 am PDT by
Apple today seeded updated third betas iOS 18 and iPadOS 18 to developers for testing purposes, with the software coming a week after Apple initially released the third betas. Registered developers are able to opt into the betas by opening up the Settings app, going to the Software Update section, tapping on the "Beta Updates" option, and toggling on the ‌iOS 18/iPadOS 18‌ Developer Beta ...

Top Rated Comments

Milese3 Avatar
129 months ago
New iPhone 6S feature!
Score: 36 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iPhone7s Avatar
129 months ago
iPhone 6s - S for Sapphire
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
slicecom Avatar
129 months ago
Meh, I've never broken or scratched an iPhone screen, and I've owned all the major versions, so unless it's thinner and more clear, or less reflective, I don't really see the advantage unless you're hard on your devices.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
aristotle Avatar
129 months ago
Wouldn't sapphire be more brittle and prone to breakage? Are we taking all rumours as fact now?

There was nothing but rumours.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bpeeps Avatar
129 months ago
I didn't realize how many people were looking forward to sapphire screens. Most will slap a screen protector on it anyway.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
dannyyankou Avatar
129 months ago
I'll be holding off for the 6S then!
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)