Sapphire Displays to See Major Step Forward With Lower Reflectivity

For several months leading up to the launch of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, it was heavily speculated that the smartphones would be equipped with sapphire crystal displays. Those rumors failed to materialize, however, as Apple opted to continue using ion-strengthened Gorilla Glass for its displays. Just weeks later, Apple sapphire partner GT Advanced filed for bankruptcy in what turned out to be a dramatic fallout between the two companies over strict contract terms and sapphire production issues.

Sapphire Crystal iPhone

(Image via MKBHD)

While GT Advanced experienced difficulties with both the quality and quantity of sapphire, it is possible that Gorilla Glass was the better choice for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus after all. TIME reported in September that sapphire, in its current form, has several properties that are less ideal than glass, including being thicker and heavier, more expensive, unable to transmit as much light and less durable after exposure to normal wear and tear. Sapphire also has up to double the screen reflectance of glass, especially under bright light, which could make it difficult to read the screen.

The reflective issue in particular could soon be a thing of the past, however, as DisplayMate confirmed to MacRumors that it has lab tested new sapphire technology that it believes will be a major breakthrough for smartphone displays. The display calibration and evaluation company found the production-ready enhanced sapphire to be at an advantage over both regular sapphire and glass based on the results of its testing, and predicted that "rapidly falling production costs" could make the material go mainstream in the near future.

"We have just lab tested an important new sapphire technology that significantly lowers the screen reflectance of sapphire to much lower than glass, turning its former major disadvantage into a major new advantage," said Dr. Raymond Soneira, DisplayMate President. "A technical note, this isn't an Anti-Reflection AR coating, which would scratch off easily and defeat sapphire's tremendous scratch resistance - so the enhanced sapphire is now number one in scratch resistance, low reflectance and performance in high ambient light. In addition, displays using it could run with lower screen brightness and result in increased running time on battery."

While Apple's recent partnership with GT Advanced made it clear that the iPhone maker is certainly interested in sapphire, it remains unknown if and when the company will ever use the material for the iPhone or other products. A number of smaller smartphone makers such as Huawei, Kyocera and Vertu have already turned to sapphire crystal displays, and these new technologies lay the foundation for Apple and other handset makers to follow suit.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
70 months ago

I don't see a benefit to sapphire. It's thicker, heavier, more reflective, *and* more prone to wear and tear, according to the article? So why use sapphire at all?


Looks like you stopped reading the article half way down.... :p
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
70 months ago

Fixed...

We'll see this in the iPhone 6s this year.

Double fixed! :)
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
70 months ago

I don't see a benefit to sapphire. It's thicker, heavier, more reflective, *and* more prone to wear and tear, according to the article? So why use sapphire at all?

Did you happen to read the 2nd half of the article?
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
70 months ago

But what about clear aluminum?


Scotty needs to learn how to use Siri first :p

Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
70 months ago

No, that's Corning's opinion while they don't have sapphire displays for sale. Just like Steve Job's method where everything that Apple doesn't have for sale right now was rubbish and nobody wanted it, until Apple had it for sale and then it was the greatest thing.

All these disadvantages will magically disappear when Corning has sapphire displays for sale.

And Apple will use it when somebody can produce enough of these displays for one iPhone model. For example all iPhone 6, or all iPhone 6+. Apple will not want to sell a model with sapphire display and an otherwise identical model without sapphire display at the same time.


Sorry, that's not just Corning saying so. Those are the facts of sapphire. It is heavier than glass. It's also thicker and more expensive to make thinner. The reflectivity was higher prior to this new formula. Additionally, it is less durable over time vs ionized glass due to the chemical structure of the crystal. None of that has anything to do with Corning.

This new sapphire formula only seems to address the reflectivity and none of the other issues. As for Corning, they could very well be the manufacturers of this new sapphire, since DisplayMate doesn't say who makes it. We don't know.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
70 months ago
Main problem of sapphire is still that it’s more brittle than regular glass. Who cares about scratch resistance? If the glass is scratched, you can still use the phone. When it breaks, that’s when the issues start and you need to get the screen replaced. Unless they figure out a way to make it less brittle, I don’t see sapphire as a good successor.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Five Mac Apps Worth Checking Out - June 2020

Tuesday June 2, 2020 2:25 pm PDT by
Apps developed for the Mac often don't receive as much coverage as apps designed for iPhones and iPads, so we have a series at MacRumors that highlights interesting Mac apps that are worth taking a look at. This month's apps are designed to make working from home a little bit easier. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Meeter (Free) - Working from home often...

iPhone 13 Prototype Mockup Depicts Notch-Free Design and USB-C Port

Thursday June 4, 2020 10:07 am PDT by
We still have a few months to go before Apple unveils the iPhone 12, but rumors about the iPhone 13, coming in fall 2021, are already circulating. Japanese site Mac Otakara today shared a rough 3D printed mockup of a 5.5-inch iPhone said to be coming in 2021, which is from "Alibaba sources." The model may be built on leaked specifications and rumors, but where the info comes from is unclear. ...

iPad Pro With A14X Chip, 5G, and Mini-LED Display Expected in First Half of 2021

Wednesday June 3, 2020 6:22 am PDT by
Apple plans to launch new iPad Pro models with an A14X chip, 5G connectivity, and a Mini-LED display in the first or second quarter of 2021, according to the increasingly reliable Twitter account L0vetodream. The leaker claims that the new iPad Pro models will be equipped with Qualcomm's Snapdragon X55 modem, which supports both mmWave and sub-6GHz. mmWave is a set of 5G frequencies that...

Apple's First MacBook Pro With a Retina Display Will Become 'Obsolete' in 30 Days

Monday June 1, 2020 7:50 am PDT by
If you are still hanging on to a Mid 2012 model of the 15-inch MacBook Pro with a Retina display, and require a new battery or other repairs, be sure to book an appointment with a service provider as soon as possible. In an internal memo today, obtained by MacRumors, Apple has indicated that this particular MacBook Pro model will be marked as "obsolete" worldwide on June 30, 2020, just over...

$5 Billion Lawsuit Accuses Google of Tracking Chrome Users in Incognito Mode

Wednesday June 3, 2020 3:13 am PDT by
A proposed class action lawsuit in the U.S. has accused Google of violating federal wiretap laws by tracking the online activities of users when in Incognito mode. According to Reuters, the class action argues that by surreptitiously collecting information about what people view online and where they browse when they use Chrome's private browsing mode, Google has been intentionally deceiving...

Next iPad Air Could Feature a USB-C Port Instead of a Lightning Port

Tuesday June 2, 2020 8:30 pm PDT by
The fourth-generation iPad Air may be equipped with a USB-C port instead of a Lightning port, according to a new report from Japanese site Mac Otakara that says the information comes from a Chinese supplier. Apple transitioned to USB-C for its iPad Pro models in 2018, but other iPads have continued to feature a Lightning port for charging purposes. Mac Otakara says that the new iPad Air will ...

Next Apple Pencil Could Be Released in Black

Tuesday June 2, 2020 10:25 am PDT by
The next iteration of the Apple Pencil could be available in black for the first time, according to leaker Mr. White who shared the tidbit on Twitter this morning. A mockup of an Apple Pencil in black We haven't heard rumors of a next-generation Apple Pencil and it's not clear when a new model might be released. Apple is rumored to be working on mini-LED versions of the iPad Pro, and it's...

Apple's Stock Price Hits a New All-Time High [Updated]

Friday June 5, 2020 7:06 am PDT by
Roughly four months after hitting an all-time high just before financial markets and economies faltered in the face of the current public health crisis, Apple's stock price has returned to those levels and has set a new all-time high today. Apple's previous intraday high of $327.85 was set on January 29, and that high-water mark was surpassed just a few minutes ago as it hit $328.00 before...

Code in iOS 13.5.5 Suggests Apple is Working on Services Bundle

Wednesday June 3, 2020 5:04 pm PDT by
Rumors have suggested Apple is working on a services bundle that will offer multiple Apple services like Apple TV+ and Apple Music for one flat monthly rate, and according to 9to5Mac, code found in iOS 13.5.5 seemingly confirms Apple's bundle plans. Files in iOS 13.5.5 reference a "bundle offer" and a "bundle subscription," and these files weren't in earlier versions of iOS. The files are...

Deals: Get the Limited Edition Mac Bundle With 11 MacOS Apps Including Parallels Desktop for $54

Wednesday June 3, 2020 6:46 am PDT by
At StackSocial this week you can get the Limited Edition Mac Bundle featuring Parallels Desktop for a low price of $54 with the promo code RUMORS10. This new bundle features 11 total apps for macOS, including Parallels Desktop, TextExpander, PDF Expert, and more. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with StackSocial. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, ...