Apple has used sapphire in the past, namely to protect the camera lens on the iPhone from getting scratched. They have also introduced the use sapphire in the iPhone 5s to protect the Touch ID sensor, but according to recent rumors, Apple has bigger plans for sapphire in the next-gen iPhone, with some suggesting it could be used in the iPhone 6’s display.
Well whatever Apple’s plans for sapphire are, word on the street is that Apple has recently begun shipping sapphire from their supplier in the US, GT Advanced Technologies, to their manufacturers in China, such as Foxconn, who will help put the iPhone together like they have in the past.
This is according to a recent report from UBS Securities. According to the UBS Securities’ Stephen Chin, “Checks find [GT Advanced Technologies'] Arizona factory likely [started] producing sapphire last month. Our own checks found that for the first time GT shipped some small quantities of sapphire made in its Arizona fab to one of Apple’s partners in China who is in charge of making sapphire covers.”
It is unclear as to what Apple has planned for sapphire and according to Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, the use of the material was for a “secret project”, which could mean a number of things. It could be used in the next-gen iPhone in a bigger way than just a lens and Touch ID cover, or it could also be used in the iWatch’s display, although rumors have suggested that the iWatch could sport a flexible display instead.
In any case take it with a grain of salt for now but we guess we’ll just have to wait for Apple to make an announcement before we are able to figure out what their plans for sapphire are.