Chinese smartphone maker trying to beat iPhone 6 to market with sapphire display

vivo-sapphire_2

As has been seen time and time again, all Apple needs to do is hint at an area it’s interested in exploring (see: smart watches) and much of the tech world will trip over itself trying to beat it to market (see: Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch.)

The latest company to jump on this bandwagon is, apparently, VIVO, the Chinese manufacturer which previously released the world’s first QHD/2K smartphone. According to sources cited by the Chinese media, VIVO is taking a big swing at Apple (and, yes, the iPhone 6 was specifically mentioned) by rushing to release its new 5-inch flagship handset, with an all-metal frame and sapphire glass display.

How is VIVO able to bring out a sapphire phone so quickly, when Apple has reportedly struggled to produce the glass to the extent that we may now see iPhone 6 handsets with sapphire displays in limited quantities only? Because VIVO is producing its devices in much smaller quantities, which lets it get around a low yield problems Apple has supposedly run up against.

VIVO isn’t the only smartphone maker to try and take Apple’s competitive advantage by exploring the world of sapphire displays. Kyocera Brigadier is currently working on a new handset with sapphire display, called the Kyocera Brigadier, said to be en route to Verizon.

Then there’s the Vertu Ti, a luxury Android-powered smartphone with a starting price tag of $10,000, featuring a sapphire crystal display, titanium casing, and Bang & Olufsen sound.

Interestingly, recent reports have suggested that the iPhone 6 may not feature pure sapphire crystal displays at all, but possibly a sapphire laminate that it easier and cheaper to produce. Other reports have theorised that Apple could take advantage of GT Advanced Technologies’s new Hyperion 4 Ion Implanter technology which could make paper-thin sheets of pure crystal sapphire glass by bombarding it with hydrogen ions.

No word yet on when we can expect the new VIVO handset (which is set to cost 3998 yuan, or around $650), but many people are expecting the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 to show up September 19, with the 5.5-inch variant arriving later on in December.

Unlike the other rival phones described here, the iPhone 6 isn’t likely to be in limited supply: with Apple allegedly ordering its biggest shipment of new iPhones ever.

  • Cleversou

    Apple is SOOOOO slow on developing new products…

    • Kevin Coté

      That’s cause they want to do it right.

    • CelestialTerrestrial

      I will admit Apple took a long time in development on a larger screen smartphone, but at least it’s going to be 64 Bit rather than some obsolete 32 Bit technology.

      They are also deploying 10,000+ robots, which takes a LONG time to deploy. They also are designing new ARM processors (64 Bit) which are using the latest technology to mfg them. Apple plans yearly product refreshes and apparently, to do a ~5inch model, they wanted to get it right. It’ll probably outsell all of the other ~5 inch models that are close competitors (Samsung, HTC) combined, AND it will probably make more Net Profits than the entire Android smartphone industry.

      Sit back and relax. It’ll be funny to see the actual sales figures. Just about every person that I know that has a ~5inch Android phone is planning on buying an iPhone 6. It’ll probably be the best selling premium smartphone, ever.

    • CelestialTerrestrial

      What’s funny is that this VIVO phone hasn’t started shipping yet. It’s just a promo photo of a future product. Apple typically at least tells you the shipping date when they make an announcement. And this VIVO phone won’t even be 64 Bit, will it? So when is this VIVO actually going to ship? Weeks or months AFTER the iPhone 6 starts to ship?

      • JayQ330

        If they release the phone by the time snapdragon 805 is out then they might use the 805 instead, its 64 bit CPU with 4 GB’s of ram. everyone knows to utilize a 64 bit processor you need 2 things, 64 bit apps of course & 4 GB’s ram running at least DDR 3 @ around 2000 MHz. Apple runs one app at a time, so even a 32 bit CPU would run apps & start apps at around the same speed. Oh & for the guy who thinks apple made the A7 processor, its just a Samsung built cpu. It’d be a waste to use 64 bits now, like a Lamborghini without a transmission.

  • JayQ330

    Vivo is using pure sapphire crystal screens like virtu’s phones, iPhone’s is more like a gorilla glass build. basically a layer of sapphire, Chinese phone manufacturers like the xiaomi i4 sell for $275 & has a snapdragon 801, 3GB eMMC 5.0 LP-DDR3 RAM, that’s about 1880 mhz , compared to iPhone’s 1600 MHz ram, & 64 GB storage, a unibody that’s built by foxconn but this unibody frame takes 20 hours to build a single one… Even apple has their iPhone’s built in China because it’s so cheap & with their cheaper build compared to xiaomi’s it should cost about $250 for the iPhone 6, now vivo has foxconn build with the same process used as xiaomi’s unibody but their phone will be sold for $650 even in China. When you think add all this up, same specs as xiaomi’s along with 4K screens at 5 inches (imagine the PPI) it’s a crazy phone, it’s solid sapphire screens are the same as virtu’s $10,000 phones minus the titanium & all the crazy shiz they have on those vitu phones. So yeah it’ll be built in more limited numbers especially when a vital piece of the phone is pure sapphire like iPhone 5’s fingerprint reader, it’s obviously going to take longer. Doing it right is saying, “and one more thing!” *our sapphire screens isn’t really a”sapphire screen” it just has some sapphire layer in the screen. Not blatantly day it’s a sapphire screen, apples always looking for an angle.

  • Honesty007

    “As has been seen time and time again, all
    Apple needs to do is hint at an area it’s interested in exploring (see:
    smart watches) and much of the tech world will trip over itself trying
    to beat it to market (see: Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smart watch.)”

    So once again, Apple should it ever use Sapphire to cover its phones’ screen or have a sapphire screen, will merely be doing something that at lease one other phone manufacturer has been doing for more than a year. Yet, here you are, behaving as if the idea was first Apple’s and everyone else is out to steal it. I am getting tired of reading articles that read as if they were written by elementary school kids while they were playing on the school’s play ground.

    • Giovanni

      “will merely be doing something that at lease one other phone manufacturer has been doing for more than a year.”…who should be this manufacturer? Sorry, I’m not against you, it’s just my ignorance, but I didn’t know.
      Many thanks.

      • Honesty007

        You are not against me, but you seem to be playing ignorant on purpose. Check out the Vertu Ti phone. It uses a sapphire crystal display. It was released February 2013 I believe. The Vertu Ti is even mentioned in this current article. Oh by the way, the manufacturer is the English company Vertu.

      • Giovanni

        sorry, really I didn’t notice it in the article, was reading quite quick :) and I didn’t know its existance.
        Anyway I think it’s for a different purpose, as Apple should put sapphire glass (or a kind of) but at an affordable (reasonably, being Apple) cost, the Vertu si 10k$ :O
        I think that, as everything is rumored to be doing Apple, there are other companies that tries to put the same new on their own devices, simply because they think: “Apple is doing it, it’s something to do as it will be a success”….
        It seems that no one is trying to really bring something new, no one, in that case Apple at least is trying to bring sapphire glass on the hand of million peoples. Not saying that Apple invented the wheel, but is doing something different, and as usual all other companies tries to follow it (like smartwatches, since the rumor of an Apple iWatch we’ve been invaded by tons of different models).
        My 2 cents :)

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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