By Jim Karpen on Tue, 07/08/2014
It's a known fact that Apple has invested heavily in sapphire crystal and plans to increasingly use it in their products. This material is virtually impossible to scratch. And for months there have been rumors that the front panel of the iPhone 6 will be made of sapphire crystal or will have a sapphire crystal laminate. And now Sonny Dickson, who in the past has been the first to score leaked parts for forthcoming iPhones and iPads, has allegedly gotten his hands on iPhone 6 front panels straight off the assembly line. Video blogger Marques Brownlee got a front panel from Dickson and has uploaded a video to YouTube showing just how indestructible sapphire crystal can be. He tries hard to scratch it with keys and a knife point. He stabs the panel. He puts his shoe on it and tries to break it. As the embedded video below shows, nothing he can do has the slightest effect. No marks whatsoever, other than fingerprints.
If this is indeed an actual panel from an iPhone 6, this is going to be a remarkable step forward: a smartphone that you don't need to worry about damaging. You won't need a case or a screen protector. This is typical of Apple, always making their products better. Because he only had the front panel, Brownlee wasn't able to do a drop test, but his efforts to break the panel suggest that the iPhone 6 face will be unfazed by any sort of drop.
Apple already uses sapphire crystal for the rear camera lens cover and for the Touch ID, since scratching would hinder the performance of both. Now, hopefully, they'll use it for the phone's front panel. It's also rumored that the material will be used in the rumored iWatch. The material is more expensive than the Gorilla Glass that Apple has been using, so it's not a given that Apple will use it in all its products. But whatever Apple intends, they've clearly expanded production of the material, with the new plant in Arizona going online this past February, and other efforts Apple has made to corner world supplies of the material.
Since I'm primarily an iPad user, I dream of a sapphire crystal display on my iPad. But it's probably not going to happen anytime soon, given the expense.