| Cult of Mac

Apple could rely on Foxconn for its sapphire iPhone screens


Could Gorilla Glass soon be even better than sapphire? Photo: Corning Glass
Foxconn might be helping Apple out on the sapphire front.

Foxconn might get in on Apple’s sapphire business for future iPhones, according to a source speaking with Cult of Mac.

While Foxconn has no actual experience growing sapphire, it is reportedly very interested in the material, and has been actively pursuing various sapphire related patents over the past several years.

Foxconn’s array of sapphire patents include LCD displays with sapphire, protective sapphire covers, methods of sapphire growth, as well as a laser process to cut sapphire substrates to eliminate the need for grinding and polishing.

How to build a gaming Hackintosh on the cheap: hardware


More power, less money, runs OS X. Winning! Photo: Killian Bell
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.

How Corning won Apple back and built the strongest Gorilla Glass yet


Corning's Gorilla Glass. Photo: Corning
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.”

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


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.

Court docs reveal how Apple treats its suppliers (badly)


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 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.”

Apple looks to repurpose Arizona factory after GTAT bankruptcy


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


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


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.

Bankrupt sapphire supplier seeks to cut ties with ‘oppressive’ Apple


The iPhone 6's Touch ID sensor is greatly improved over the 5s &mdash for me, anyway.
With GTAT gone, who will supply the sapphire for Apple components like Touch ID? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

We’ve witnessed a quick unraveling of GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT), Apple’s main sapphire supplier, since the company suddenly filed for bankruptcy earlier this week.

New court filings indicate that GTAT wants to take legal action against Apple for its “oppressive and burdensome” terms. The sapphire maker also plans to shut down its Arizona plant by December 31st, which leaves Apple’s sapphire production in limbo. The Arizona plant shuttering will also result in the loss of 890 jobs.

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


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.