Apple Watch Sapphire Display Performs Poorly Against ION-X Glass

We wrote about this earlier, but now lab tests confirm that the ION-X glass display on the Apple Watch Sport actually lets more color through than the Sapphire display found in the mid-range and high-end Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition models. The tests by DisplayMate show the lower-end model performing better under ambient light. In a dark room, the difference would be less noticeable, but it is significant because it adds to the storyline that the entry level model may be more desirable.

First, aluminum weighs less than stainless steel. This means that the Apple Watch Sport is lighter, and presumably more comfortable, than the midrange model. Also, there are numerous reports of the stainless steel models suffering scratches, which, while they can be polished out, is a nuisance for such an expensive device. Sapphire is second in hardness to diamonds, so it is less likely to scratch, however it can be more susceptible to fractures. Combine these concerns with the ambient light issue and the $200 premium to move from an Apple Watch Sport to the stainless steel Apple Watch with sapphire display is hard to swallow.

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It also could explain why Apple hasn't embraced sapphire as the display screen on the iPhone 6. In addition to the falling out with their provider of sapphire, if the color quality of the iPhone were to suffer, it's hard to see Apple switching to sapphire. And screen fractures are already a big enough problem for Apple, so increasing scratch resistance at the expense of resistance to cracking would be a step backward.

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Author Details

Todd Bernhard's picture

Author Details

Todd Bernhard

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP,,, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.