Samsung pursuing sapphire for cover glass

According to the industry on May 22, Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics recently asked ingot and wafer makers to submit samples in an effort to adopt the sapphire cover glass. They reviewed it last year as well, but they were reluctant to use it because of high prices, but as global competitors recently announced plans to release new products with sapphire glass, they began to reconsider it in a hurry.

Sound familiar? It should.

Apple began to operate the sapphire glass manufacturing and processing plant in Arizona, US earlier than scheduled. It is known that Apple will apply the sapphire glass to the 10 million new products scheduled to be released in the second half.

Interesting to watch the costs rise as more manufacturers move to what is, essentially, a limited availability commodity.

  • EdisonCarter

    Following their tradition of bad, cheap copies, as well as industry leading marketing bullshit Samsung will just start calling their cheap glass “S-apphire”.

  • John V.

    I have a wristwatch with a “glass” made of sapphire and I love it. But knowing the properties of sapphire the mind boggles why it is a better choice for products the size of a phone. Sapphire is heavier and easier to shatter than Gorilla glass.

    If I had to guess I’d rather think Apple is looking for extra sapphire for three reasons:

    1. They’re already using sapphire for the camera lens cover on iPhones, but not on iPads. They want to have sapphire lens covers on iPads too.

    2. They’re already using sapphire for the touch sensor on iPhone 5S, and they want to add touch sensors to their lower tier products, and to iPads.

    3. Even if we ignore reasons 1 and 2, their overall volume of mobile iOS devices is still increasing, so even if they’d freeze product development they’d need more sapphire to put in more iPhones a year or two from now.

    4. Sapphire will make a better cover glass than Gorilla glass for a handheld or other small device (rumored iWatch).

    So even if I drop the speculative reason number 4, we see Apple will be needed a lot more sapphire soon anyway. Why do we need the crazy shitty reasons people come up with, like an all-sapphire phone screen covers?

    Also, it’s funny to consider Samsung is blindly copying Apple’s rumored sapphire screen cover strategy, but they might need sapphire for less interesting reasons, such as camera covers and the like.

    • Gerard J

      From what I’ve read on-line, GT (the people who actually own and run the plant in Mesa, AZ) and Apple have come up with some new processes involving the cutting of the sapphire in to sheets as well as a method of laminating sapphire with other materials; there’s more to the alliance than just mass producing sapphire boules. It could be that GT/Apple will produce tissue paper thin sheets of sapphire and fuse one to each piece of flexible glass, giving all the flexibility and shatter resistance of the current Gorilla glass as well as the superior scratch resistance of sapphire. Remember Corning sells their glass in sheets the purchaser must trim, machine and finish the glass to their own specs. For that matter if the slicing process is as good as rumors suggest, then the sapphire may be for the outside surface of the case on non-glass faces. What if the back of the 5c (or 6) was sapphire jacketed anodized aluminum? I think that would look pretty damned cool. Lots of possibilities. Lots of speculation. Lots of people with guesses.

      • John V.

        Laminating would be still a way to protect small areas that won’t bend or be pressed hard against something (camera lens comes to mind).

        The problem is sapphire is nearly impossible to scratch, but if it bends, it simply shatters.

        And Gorilla glass is hard to scratch, and very resistant to bending (without shattering).

        For the surface area of a phone screen, you need bend resistance. So whether it’s all sapphire or laminated with sapphire, when you bend it, it’ll shatter.

        So I still think this is not a phone screen solution.

    • RD

      Sapphire laminate. Check out Apple’s patents. GTAT can produce a 2″+ paper thin flexible sapphire display. Apple invested almost $600 million to build out GTAT’s Mesa plant. That type of investment isn’t for iPad lens covers or TouchID.

  • That’s the flip side of not being a first-mover: you have to rely on experience, not on vision.

  • Marky Law

    Remember when the CEO of Gorilla Glass was all like: “Ugh. Sapphire is totally inferior and terrible! And we’re not worried AT ALL because nobody would ever use it!”

    • Nxt

      Its not too late for them to start mixing their own sapphire solutions. and call it baboon glass or something.

  • Junesoo Andrew Yang

    Manufacturing capacity constrained material is more accurate than a limited availability commodity.