The news of Apple's work with Sapphire for future products has been in the news for months now. In addition, there has been a series of patent application filed by Apple over the last months, enough to warrant us creating a "Sapphire" related archive. That of course rang emergency bells throughout the ranks at Samsung. The world's fastest copycat developer, or as they prefer to be called "fast-follower," is working overtime to add Sapphire smartphone cover glass to their line-up of premium smartphones later this year.
According to the industry sources 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.
Apple now uses sapphire glass for the iPhone's camera lens cover and their fingerprint recognition Home Button which was the first in the world to do so. China's Gionee was the first to use it as front cover glass when they launched one of their latest smartphones. More recently Shaoni announced its ambitious plan to use sapphire in its new smartphone.
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, according to the Korean report.
Sapphire glass is made by heating high-purity alumina to make sapphire ingots, slicing them into thin wafers and reprocessing them. It is more than 3 times harder than existing tempered glass and scratch-proof. It has a high touch recognition rate as well as durability. However, it is about 10 times more expensive than existing tempered glass.
"As late as last year, cell phone makers tried very hard to lower the price of sapphire," said a sapphire ingot industry insider. "But this year as the mood swung toward using good materials to get premium prices, related industries are responding to the market more actively."
Apple's latest sapphire related patent filing was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office yesterday.
While speculation has run wild that Apple's Arizona plant is for creating cover glass for future iPhones, Apple's CEO made it clear that the sapphire plant is for creating material for a secret project and not for cover glass.
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