Apple is gobbling up sapphire supplies at an alarming rate of knots. Photo: GT Advanced Technologies
Apple will consume 18 percent of global sapphire ingot output making the displays for the Apple Watch, according to a new report coming out of China’s supply chain. This adds up to a whopping 30.8 million millimetres of two-inch (diameter) sapphire ingots in total.
We get slammed 24/7 with new Apple rumors. Some are accurate, most are not. To give you a clue about what’s really coming out of Cupertino in the future, we’re busting out our rumor debunker each week to blow up the nonsense.
We've coming out of our winter hibernation to an avalanche of new iPhone 6S rumors claiming Apple's next smartphone will have the biggest camera upgrade ever. There's also whispers of a 12-inch MacBook Air on the horizon, and a possible ARM-powered Mac in the next year.
Step up to the crystal ball and find out which of these rumors is most likely to come true in 2015.
The Rumor: Your iMacs and MacBooks will be powered by ARM processors in 1 - 2 years/
The Verdict Not likely to happen yet. Ming Chi Kuo, aka “the world’s most accurate Apple analyst” has been wrong a time or two, and I think this is time he’s way off. Ditching Intel chips has been rumored forever. It still doesn’t make sense, as Apple would be sacrificing a lot of processing power for modest battery gains. It could happen in the next five years, but Kuo’s prediction that we’ll see an ARM powered MacBook in the next year sounds too soon to be true.
The Verdict: Sounds almost too good to be true, but we’ve heard this year’s camera upgrade will be the biggest ever. The iPhone is now the 2nd most popular camera brand in the world. Adding optical zoom and better image quality might be enough convince most users to never buy a regular camera again.
The Verdict Apple is not making a wearable camera. Not because it couldn’t make a kickass wearable camera that’s even better than GoPro, but because there’s just not enough money in the wearable cameras market. If Apple can’t sell tens of millions of units of a product every quarter there’s no point in making it. GoPro investors can rest easy for another year.
The Verdict Probably not going to happen. There are so many more parts that could break and need repair if Apple moved to a spring loaded joystick/home button. We still haven’t seen any iPhone gaming cases take off, and this is certainly an intriguing idea, but this patent is mostly likely a glimpse into an alternative Apple universe we’ll never see.
The Rumor: Apple already lined up a new a sapphire supplier.
The Verdict Too early to tell. Ever since GTAT went belly up Apple’s been hunting for a new sapphire supplier. Previous rumors have claimed Foxconn will step in, while a recent Wall Street Journal report points to Apple supplier Desay as the possible GTAT replacement. The company already makes sapphire displays for its smartphones. Maybe the S in iPhone 6S will stand for “sapphire.”
The Rumor:2GB of RAM will be the new standard on the iPhone 6S.
The Verdict The odds of the iPhone 6S getting 2GB of RAM is incredibly likely. We’re not expecting a design overall on the 6S, but there should be plenty of big internal upgrades. The iPhone 6 only has 1GB of RAM. Doubling it will certainly make it wicked fast, and all those new Metal-coded games will look better than ever.
The Verdict Count on it, but not until 2016. Foxconn is reportedly dedicating an entire factory to pumping out OLED displays for iPhones and Apple wearables. Mass production probably won’t start until 2016, which will come just in time for Apple to swap out the iPhone 6s’ LCD display with a thinner, brighter OLED beauty.
Failed sapphire maker GT Advanced Technologies wants to pay out performance-based bonuses to its senior execs.
GT Advanced Technologies’ attempts to make sapphire iPhone screens for Apple may have ended in disaster, but that’s not stopping GT senior execs from asking for millions to be paid out in bonuses.
Because the company filed for bankruptcy protection back in October, any bonus program needs to have the signature of a judge in order to be legally binding. GT is requesting a hearing in January, although it admits there is likely to be opposition.
The bonus program would cover 9 unidentified senior executives, and could add up to $2.275 million if all the necessary targets are hit. A second bonus proposal would pay a total of $1.4 million to an additional 28 people.
Want more power for your money? Build a Hackintosh. Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac
I recently decided it was time to get a proper desktop computer. I needed it predominantly for work, but I wanted it to be powerful enough to play the latest games in 1080p without worrying about stuttering or terrible frame rates.
The new Mac lineup didn’t offer a perfect fit — the Retina 5K iMac was too expensive, and the new Mac mini simply wasn’t powerful enough — so I set myself a goal: To build a gaming machine with a dedicated video card, capable of running OS X, for around the price of a Mac mini.
I set a budget of $650 for my build. That’s $150 more than the base model Mac mini, but $50 less than the midrange model. In this piece, I’ll take you through the components I purchased and why I chose them, and how I put them all together. Next week, I’ll show you how I installed OS X to turn my DIY gaming rig into a Hackintosh.
Gorilla Glass is the go-to material for today’s touchscreens. Photo: Corning
Corning’s relationship with Apple looked doomed earlier this year. Having manufactured the touchscreens for every iPhone since 2007, the Gorilla Glass bosses were all but sure they were being ditched in favor of synthetic sapphire crystal, set to be supplied by Apple’s hot new partner, GT Advanced Technologies.
But while Apple’s affair with GT has imploded spectacularly, Corning is back on Cupertino’s crush list after stepping in at the eleventh hour to create super-sized displays for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Now Corning is convinced its latest technological advance — Gorilla Glass 4, its toughest version yet — will banish sapphire suitors for the immediate future.
“Sapphire is a really, really nice material that’s very good for reducing scratches,” Dave Velasquez, Corning’s director of marketing and commercial ops, told Cult of Mac. “However, we feel very strongly that glass is the best material for touch panel cover glass. When you weigh up everything from cost to drop-testing, to the amount of energy that’s needed to make it, in our opinion Gorilla Glass is clearly the best material to use.”
Now photos published by the Wall Street Journal show some of GTAT’s sapphire errors, made just days before Apple signed a deal for the company to produce sapphire displays to be used in next generation iPhones. The 578 pound sapphire cylinders — known as boules — featured multiple flaws, which rendered the majority unusable.
While Apple certainly pushes its manufacturers hard to seemingly achieve the impossible on tighter and tighter profit margins, the picture that emerges from the WSJ article is of GT as a chaotic company, struggling from the very start to fulfil Apple’s expectations.
Back entrance to GTAT’s sapphire plant in Mesa, AZ. Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac
Apple and its former sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies have stayed quiet about their disastrous relationship, but newly unsealed court documents reveal that the two companies never had a chance of making things work.
Judge Henry Boroff ordered the sealed documents to be opened on Tuesday, and one of the affidavits from GTAT CEO Daniel Squiller claims Apple used a “bait-and-switch” strategy that was massively one-sided. When GTAT balked at Apple’s terms, execs were told to stop trying to negotiate and “put on your big boy pants and accept the agreement.”
Back entrance to GTAT’s sapphire plant in Mesa, AZ. Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac
Apple’s sapphire ambitions with GT Advanced Technology have been a complete disaster. But even though the plan to turn Mesa, Arizona, into the Sapphire Capital of the West failed, Apple executives are still looking for a way to repurpose GT’s new factory.
The city of Mesa and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer bent over backward to bring Apple to the Grand Canyon State, but now that GTAT plans to shut down operations, Apple says it’s still committed to helping the area.