In the lead-up to the iPhone 6, everyone expected Apple to give it a sapphire glass display. Sapphire glass, it was said, would lead to nigh-indestructible screens: Scratched and shattered iPhone displays would become a thing of the past.
Of course, we all know what happened from there. Apple’s sapphire partner, GT Advanced Technologies, completely collapsed, and the iPhone 6 shipped with plain old Gorilla Glass. Yet even if it hadn’t, Apple might not have used sapphire glass, which was much more reflective and harder to read in ambient light than Gorilla Glass.
But here’s the key word: was. A new technology has emerged that might make sapphire glass every bit as good when it comes to viewability as Gorilla Glass.
In an email to Cult of Mac, DisplayMate president and all-around display expert Raymond Soneira writes:
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. 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. This new production ready low reflectance enhanced sapphire will undoubtedly be one of the major new advancements for smartphone displays in the very near future.
This new sapphire glass sounds perfect for Apple. Not only is it tough, but Soneira says it’s just as clear as Gorilla Glass, which means the display itself can use less light (and consequently less power) under ambient light.
Could we see this new sapphire glass in time for the iPhone 6s? Only time will tell, but fingers crossed.