Skip to comments.Corning: Sapphire Is Heavy, Environmentally-Unfriendly, and It Actually Does Break
Posted on 03/05/2014 9:01:07 AM PST by ImJustAnotherOkie
Corning, the makers of Gorilla Glass, arent convinced that sapphire is the right way to go for Apple. Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, one of the companys executives slammed the material, calling it a bad choice from a number of viewpoints.
Apple is known to have enlisted the services of a company called GT Advanced to make huge amounts of sapphire crystal/glass for an upcoming product, or even more than one product.
One of those is believed to be the iPhone 6, a bigger version of the flagship Apple smartphone that is said to sport a larger display and a redesigned body. The Cupertino giant is seemingly on track to replace Gorilla Glass (the material currently used for the front glass panel of every iPhone) with sapphire. The move is a bad one, says Corning.
Speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, Tony Tripeny, principal accounting officer, senior vice president, corporate controller, is quoted as saying, When we look at it, we see a lot of disadvantages of Sapphire versus Gorilla Glass.
Its about 10 times more expensive, Tripeny continued. Its about 1.6 times heavier. Its environmentally unfriendly. It takes about 100 times more energy to generate a Sapphire crystal than it does glass. It transmits less light which it means either dimmer devices or shorter battery life. It continues to break.
Thats a total of six major downsides to using sapphire, according to Tripeny. So why is Apple still pursuing the use of this material? Well, theres at least a couple of scenarios we can consider.
The first and most plausible one is that Apple and Corning have had a downfall. Maybe something went wrong in their last meeting establishing the price-per-square inch, or whatever metrics they use to assess the costs.
Another, equally plausible answer is that Corning wants to shift the industrys attention away from sapphire to continue to land deals to supply its own Gorilla Glass.
In fact, the same Tripeny makes a great case for his companys high-strength material. Comparing sapphire to Gorilla Glass, he said, I think while its scratch resistant product it still breaks and our testing says that Gorilla Glass, about 2.5 times more pressure that it can take than Sapphire on.
So when we look at it, we think from an overall industry and trend that is not attractive in consumer electronics, Tripeny concluded.
It could be interesting if the ifone6 has problems with screen breakage and weight.
This may get interesting.
I have broken my gorilla glass - TWICE.
We have the dropsies?
Apple hates the Earth!!!
When selling a status symbol product like I phone, it matters not that it is better or worse, what matters is that it is perceived to be better and that by having it in your hand, you are a better person than the person who does not have it in their hand.
Iphone is the equivalent of a gucci bag or a rolex watch.
Company whines that Competitors product is crappy and they are doo doo heads...
Same old crap...
Could be, but Corning states some facts that may be true. Apple also has a big investment in sapphire. It also of late has had some premature releases. may screw up again.
A big change like sapphire with zero track record in the worldwide market is a very huge risk for Apple.
Industrially made sapphire is transparent aluminum.
-a crystalline form of aluminum oxide-
It has been used in high-end watch faces for decades.
We saw the problems Apple had with the Aluminum backside.
After 16 years, the electronic innards of my previous Sieko watch finally died. During that time the watch got banged around considerably with lots of scratches on the case, but there wasn’t a single scratch on the sapphire crystal
Gorilla glass does not mean it won’t break, just it won’t break as easily.
Other commonplace uses of sapphire in everyday life include semiconductors and barcode sensors, where the material is again chosen due to its ruggedness.
Sapphire has also found widespread use in is the avionics world, where its ability to withstand extreme high and low temperatures along with its resistance to damage makes it a useful tool for the aviation displays in aircraft. Another regular application is in the optic heads of missiles. These missiles are regularly equipped with a combination of infrared, radar, and optical sensors for guidance, and the optic heads need to remain undamaged when the missile is moving through the air, or else being handled on the ground. Sapphire is also used in some iterations of bullet proof glass.
Not used in touch screens, transparency issues, less flexible, and more brittle. Watch crystals are much thicker than Gorilla Glass.
I’m just saying, there is a downside here.
My phone case is Kevlar
I have as well. It isn't perfect. Personally I'd be more concerned with weight and light transmission, but if Apple wants to try it I say go for it. God bless the free market.
Keep it over your heart when you go into questionable neighborhoods.
Sapphire is used in grocery store scanners, you can drag stuff over it all year without scratches.
again, thickness and weight.
Sapphire is the second most scratch-resistant material known, after diamond, of course.
IOW, only a diamond will scratch sapphire. Or possibly also other aluminum oxide materials, I’m a little vague on that point.
I will never buy another Apple product until they get rid of the gore-bull warming ceo nazi.
I believe aluminum oxide is harder. That is why they use it for sand paper. AL/OX is also used in the 50 year warranty wood flooring finishes. Sapphire may be the second most for a natural material.
Yes, I remember the promotional videos from Corning when Gorilla Glass was introduced. Very impressive. But then I dropped my iPhone from a height of 18 inches onto a wood floor. Even though it was in a heavy protective case, it shattered. My boss, who supplies the phone, was not thrilled. It costs a fortune to replace the glass, too.
the new apple ceo seems to have goal 1 as pissing off as many people as he possibly can. he’s not jobs and it’s not working forhim. i can see it being a clash with corning.
Me either, a product failure would be the whip cream on the pumpkin pie.
I can see the problem too, I can also see a desperate and foolish Apple forcing a not quite ready technology into the market too soon. The sapphire is going to have to be completely idiot proof. Will it pass the butt test of some bony ass chick?
“I have broken my gorilla glass - TWICE.”
My teenage son has managed to break his THREE TIMES!
Apple, being hypocritical? Why the two are synonymous.
Thankyou for posting this. Who says you don’t get good stock advice here on FR. I am just back after reading this and then selling my GT Advanced stock. I’ve made good money on it but this annoucement is sending the stock down.
Sorry, should have been more clear. Sapphire IS aluminum oxide crystal.
Which probably means it can be scratched by diamond and some if not all other forms of aluminum oxide.
I really like my Samsung galaxy note 3. I’ve installed a screen protector and a silicone skin to protect the case. No issues, and not a dime to Apple.
The stylus is also very useful.
Only gorilla’s cannot break the glass. All other animals can. : )
I spoiled myself and bought a fancy watch for my 40th birthday and to celebrate some new contracts. The watch came with green sapphire glass. The dealer assured me it was unbreakable and unscratchable. BS. It wasn’t dropped or anything. BUT, it reacts very poorly with certain materials found in the machine shop that when tapped just right it’s almost like the glass was thinner than eggshell.
For a consumer product like a cell phone I would rather see easily replaceable faces out of a scratch resistant plastic. I’m sure I’m in the minority though because I’m hard on my cell phone in a machine shop.
The Iphone glass has been known to shatter just because you were carrying it in a linty-lined pocket and a some small particle got between the glass and the phone.
Sapphire is second only to diamond for hardness. You can take a handful of sand and use it to clean the lens. Goodbye screen protector film! Lol! I have no idea what the impact strength is though as I never whacked it with a hammer. Optically though, sapphire is awesome with low distortion. The instruments were pushing about the equivalent of about 2 megawatt per cm2 with a beam a few tenths of a micron diameter beam. Believe me, optical distortion of any significant amount would have been detectable.
BTW, no proprietary info in these descriptions. Sapphire has been used in industrial optics for years for its unmatched scratch resistance and other info is in public domain literature.
It’s pretty exasperating. But it was given to me, it costs me nothing, and I love the thing. It’s wonderful to have the Internet and so much knowledge in my pocket. It’s a perpetual source of learning and pleasure via the books, videos, and music. The power and scope of the thing is fantastic.