Apple Spends $578 Million On Rumored Sapphire Glass Feature For iPhone 6

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Practically everyone reading this will have heard the reports about the lengths Apple will go to in order to ensure that its products are on the cutting edge of industrial design.

Well, to those reports you can add the one which suggests that Apple recently paid a total of $578 million — more than half a billion dollars — to GT Advanced Technologies to speed up “the development of its next generation, large capacity ASF furnaces to deliver low cost, high volume manufacturing of sapphire material.”

This move is designed to help keep down the costs of the Sapphire Glass screen rumored to be featured as part of the iPhone 6 — along with a redesign and bigger display.

Sapphire Glass is 2.5 more durable than the Corning Gorilla Glass used in previous iPhone models, in addition to several other smartphones available on the market today. Currently it is used in small parts of the iPhone, like the protective glass over the camera sensor and the Touch ID sensor in the iPhone 5s.

According to Jeff Nestel-Patt, marketing director at GT Advanced Technologies, the material is “virtually scratch free” and won’t suffer blemishes even if rubbed on concrete.

Vice president of business development and product management Linda Reinhard, meanwhile, describes it as being, “ideally suited for a wide range of cover and touch screen applications from ruggedized phones, camera covers, point of sale devices and smartphone and touch screen devices. Other reinforced glass and cover screen technologies try to emulate what ASF-grown sapphire does naturally.”

Earlier this month, Cult of Mac reported that Apple plans to build a Sapphire Glass manufacturing plant in Mesa, Arizona.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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