Rumors and expectations for the iPhone's 6 screen have devolved from pure-sapphire protection on premium devices to sapphire-glass composites in all models down to doubt that Apple will release sapphire composite screens on any iPhones in the first ships in the fall of 2014.
Apple appeared to be on track to procure the amounts of the sapphire crystal it needed for its iPhone 6 when it announced plans to set up a sapphire plant in Mesa, Ariz. But after analyzing the availability of sapphire, Yole Developments, a market research firm, has asserted there is virtually no way Apple could use sapphire crystal in all versions of the iPhone 6.
There appeared to be bottlenecks at multiple points that would slow the cultivation and production of enough sapphire, according to Yole. Both crystal growth and finished yields have been much lower than expected, stated Yole in a press release (PDF).
"If yields don't improve rapidly, Apple walking away from sapphire is still a possible scenario," stated Yole. "The company believes that moderate quantities of supplemental material is currently being sourced from GTAT equipment customers in China. But even if all partners manage to improve yields rapidly, Yole's analysis still excludes the possibility that sapphire can be used on all models of the new 2014 iPhone."
It wasn't clear if Yole expected Apple to use pure sapphire or a composite containing the crystal. However, Yole used evidence of contracts between Apple and sapphire producers to conclude that the latest iPhones may not have to do without protection from the crystal due to industry constraints.
Even if sapphire is completely left out of iPhone 6 screens, Yole said it still expects the devices to use the crystal to protect camera lenses and fingerprint scanners. Apple's Chinese contractors were said by Yole to have been tasked with procuring the sapphire for the lens' scanners.
Whatever Apple's planning to do with iPhone 6 should come to light on Sept. 9, as the luxury tech company has scheduled a major media event for that day. It may be a bit too early for iWatch news, but the timing fits perfectly with past iPhone launch events.
While leaked details and prototypes have all but confirmed two versions of the iPhone 6, a 4.7-inch and a 5.5-inch form factor, only a small amount of information has surfaced about the insides of the Apple's latest batch of smartphones. However, an anonymous source told Venture Beat that the latest iPhones will feature A8 processors clocked at 2.0 Ghz per core and will support Category 6 LTE.