Apple’s sapphire glass manufacturing facility is almost ready for prime time

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Will the iPhone 6 have a sapphire glass display or won’t it? So far, the jurt’s still out, with a leaked ‘sapphire’ panel turning out to be just a different type of Gorilla Glass.

Whether the iPhone 6 will or won’t have a super-hard, nigh-invulnerable sapphire glass screen, though, Apple is still doubling down on its investments into the material. In fact, it was announced today that Apple’s sapphire glass facility is nearly ready for mass production.

Apple’s partner in making sapphire glass for the iPhone 5s’s Touch ID button as well as future iPhones is GT Advanced Technologies. That company announced their Q2 financial results today, reporting an $86 million loss as they finished construction on an Arizona facility to mass-produce sapphire glass for Apple.

Discussing the deal, GT said:

The build-out of our Arizona facility, which has involved taking a 1.4 million square foot facility from a shell to a functional structure as well as the installation of sapphire growth and fabrication equipment, is nearly complete and we are commencing the transition to volume production. We remain confident about the long-term potential of the sapphire materials business for GT.

According to GT, as long as they meet Apple’s criteria — which they seem confident they will do — Cupertino will invest an additional $139 million into their country, helping to mitigate this loss.

The big question, of course, is whether or not any of this means we’ll see a sapphire glass display in the iPhone 6. My guess is no: GT would already need to be mass-producing sapphire glass screens now if they were going to be used in the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 launching in September.

But maybe for the larger 5.5-inch iPhone 6, rumored to launch early next year? Or the iPhone 6s? The possibilities are tantalizing. What do you think?

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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