This is why the iPhone 6 didn’t get a sapphire screen

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Some of GT Advanced Technology's failed attempts to create sapphire for future iPhones. Photo: WSJ
Photo: WSJ

No matter what the reason, or who was at fault, the collapse in Apple’s relationship with former sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies came down to one thing: the latter company wasn’t able to meet Apple’s terms.

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.

Apple looks to repurpose Arizona factory after GTAT bankruptcy

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GT Advanced
Back entrance to GTAT's sapphire plant in Mesa, AZ. Photo: Buster Hein/Cult of Mac
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.

Apple copycats put off by its sapphire woes

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Indestructible iPhone screens are still in the works. Photo: Marques Brownlee
From beloved material to pariah, no-one wants to touch sapphire now Apple's ditched its plans.

The start of any innovative business should be identifying a service that the current market leader in the sector is not supplying.

With Apple’s failure to provide sapphire displays for its latest iPhones — thanks to the spectacular collapse of now-bankrupt supplier GT Advanced Technologies — you’d think that other smartphone makers would be climbing over one another to bring sapphire-enhanced smartphones to market; demonstrating that they can do what Tim Cook and his billions of dollars weren’t able to.

Which is why it’s something of a surprise (or perhaps not!) to hear that Apple’s troubles with sapphire displays has pretty much discouraged other companies from trying the same thing.

Apple slaps suppliers with a $50 million fine for leaking secrets

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Photo: Michelangelo Carrieri/Flickr
Photo: Michelangelo Carrieri/Flickr

Apple’s bankrupt sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies might have stayed quiet about its reasons for the bankruptcy, but a few details are nonetheless starting to emerge.

Two of the most intriguing tidbits concerning the case regard the cost of sapphire production for GT Advanced Technologies, and the financial penalties Apple imposes on any supplier who leaks information about future products.

The sapphire’s safe: Other suppliers are lined up for Apple Watch

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Apple Watch supply is finally catching up with demand.
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac
Photo: Leander Kahney/Cult of Mac

With GT Advanced Technologies asking permission to close down its Arizona factory after less than a year, it’s a fair question to ask where exactly Apple plans to get the sapphire displays for its forthcoming Apple Watch.

Earlier this week, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that the bankruptcy filing wouldn’t affect Apple’s forthcoming wearables debut. According to a new report from Digitimes, the reason for this is that Apple has a backup plan in the form of two other sapphire cover suppliers besides GT Advanced: the South Korea-based Hansol Technics and China-based Harbin Aurora Optoelectronics Technology.

Bankrupt Apple supplier wants to close sapphire plant after less than 1 year

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This year will be the iPhone's biggest camera upgrade ever.
Sapphire is used to protect the iPhone's rear-facing iSight camera. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

GT Advanced Technologies is apparently getting out of the sapphire production game, after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection at the start of this week.

As reported by Re/code and the Wall Street Journal, the beleaguered company is asking the court’s permission to “wind down” operations at its sapphire manufacturing plant in Arizona — and, yes, for those keep track, that does come less than one year after the company first announced its game-changing deal with Apple.

Apple’s sapphire supplier wants to keep bankruptcy details under wraps

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This year will be the iPhone's biggest camera upgrade ever.
Sapphire is used to protect the iPhone's rear-facing iSight camera. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

How GT Advanced Technologies could have filed for bankruptcy, despite Apple’s best efforts to prop it up, is still something of a mystery — and it’ll stay like that if the company gets its way.

According to a Reuters report, GT Advanced has requested that the New Hampshire bankruptcy court currently overseeing its case put the kibosh on releasing key documents related to a “third party,” claiming that this would allow it avoid paying damages thanks to confidentiality agreements.

Apple ‘surprised’ by sapphire maker’s bankruptcy

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This year will be the iPhone's biggest camera upgrade ever.
Sapphire is used to protect the iPhone's rear-facing iSight camera. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple’s plan to put sapphire glass in everything took a tumble this week when its exclusive supplier GT Advanced Technologies filed for bankruptcy, and according to Apple’s spokesman, they were just as shocked as all of us.

In a statement issued this morning to Reuters, the Apple spokesman Chris Gaither said the company was ‘surprised’ by GT’s decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but they haven’t given up on its AZ plant yet.

Apple withheld $139 million payment to sapphire supplier

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It's the rumor pretty much every Apple analysts and blogger in the world predicted for the last 8 months and everyone got it wrong.
It's the rumor pretty much every Apple analysts and blogger in the world predicted for the last 8 months and everyone got it wrong.

New details have emerged about the surprise bankruptcy protection filing of GT Advanced Technologies, a.k.a. the company that was supplying Apple with its sapphire.

As per the Wall Street Journal, Apple agreed to lend GT Advanced a total of $578 million to help get its large sapphire factory in Arizona up and running, only for Cupertino to withhold the final $139 million payment it was due to make, for reasons which aren’t yet clear, but likely relate to the company’s failure to deliver sapphire to Apple’s satisfaction.

Sapphire supplier CEO cashed in his shares before iPhone 6 reveal

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GT Advanced Technology shares have dropped a massive 93%.
GT Advanced Technologies CEO appears to have parachuted out before shares hit rock bottom.

The idea that the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus would have a sapphire display was one of the most widely reported errors leading up to the unveiling of Apple’s next gen iPhones.

But while plenty of time was spent discussing the possibility, very few people made any money through the speculation — except for Tom Gutierrez, CEO of sapphire manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies, which just filed for bankruptcy protection.

According to the Wall Street Journal, one day before Apple revealed its new iPhones wouldn’t feature sapphire screens after all, the boss of the struggling company cashed in more than 9,000 shares of GT stock for an average price of $17.38 — bringing in a total of $160,000.

Since February this year, Gutierrez has sold close to 700,000 shares in his company, valued at more than $10 million.