Apple is reportedly enlisting Foxconn, its main iPhone assembly partner, to produce sapphire displays for the company’s next flagship mobile devices. A deal has reportedly been reached, according to China Economic Weekly, which will see Foxconn build a new factory dedicated to producing these displays. Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were expected to come with sapphire screens, though the collapse of GT Advanced Technologies put those plans on hold.
Although the report says the new factory is expected to produce the stronger displays for Apple’s next generation of devices, it’s unclear what devices specifically the report refers to. Something like the iPhone is a sure bet, but beyond that is anyone’s guess. One would expect the company to also reinforce its upcoming Apple Watch, which is scheduled to hit early next year, with the stronger material.
Just because Apple is actively exploring sapphire displays, however, doesn’t mean the company will actually use them. People close to the company’s plans have said Apple is cautiously evaluating the displays to determine feasibility, and also to avoid shortages if it did implement the technology moving forward. Apple has a hard enough time producing enough units at launch, and if things were held up because of sapphire shortages, it would certainly be a nightmare scenario.
While Apple is fiddling around with sapphire, another option from Corning might be more feasible. Gorilla Glass 4 was detailed recently, and Corning says it’s the strongest version ever, and can make dropped phones virtually shatter-proof. Users of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have complained that the screens are susceptible to scratches, so Apple will definitely need to do something when the next version hits next year.