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back to article Why next iPhone screen could be made of SAPPHIRE - and a steal...

Man-made sapphire could replace Gorilla Glass as the material of choice for scratch-and-crack-resistant mobile phone screens in the near future, according to a recent speculative piece from MIT Technology Review. According to the research university's mag: Manufactured sapphire — a material that’s used as transparent armor on …

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So

It's basically clear aluminum?

Scotty, beam me up!

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Boffin

Re: So

Yep, and so are rubies.

I had no idea that the price of silicon had dropped so far. Great article!

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Re: So

Dammit! Beat me to it. But to be pedantic it's transparent aluminum :)

Pity Americans can't spell though, should be aluminium.

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Re: So

No - it's you Brits and we Australians who can't spell it. It's aluminum. Some of your scientists decided to change it just so it'd fit in with other "ium"s.

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Headmaster

Re: So

No, it's everyone* who can't spell it. It was originally alumium.

*but especially the Americans, just because ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: So

I have a watch with sapphire glass, from and back. After 14 years still not a scratch to be seen, though the stainless steel case is battle scarred.

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Ru

Re: So

No - it's you Brits and we Australians who can't spell it. It's aluminum

IUPAC prefer -ium, and its kinda their bailiwick.

Some of your scientists decided to change it just so it'd fit in with other "ium"s.

Like molybdenium, lanthanium, tantalium and platinium? Certainly, their efforts at consistency were pretty half-hearted.

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jai
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Assuming steady price of Gorillas?

The assumption here seems to be that Gorilla glass will remain at $3 until and after the sapphire glass industry gets upto speed and reaches the $10 mark? but surely while that is happening, Gorilla glass will continue to get stronger, or it will get cheaper (or both).

Still, that said, being able say my phone has a screen made of aluminium would be cooler than having one made of gorillas...

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FAIL

Re: Assuming steady price of Gorillas?

Gorillas > aluminium.

Have you not seen the cadburys advert with the gorilla playing drums?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Assuming steady price of Gorillas?

"Still, that said, being able say my phone has a screen made of aluminium would be cooler than having one made of gorillas..."

TRAGIC!

(Fanbois for ya!)

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Pint

Re: Assuming steady price of Gorillas?

So, you peruse funnyjunk, too?

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Watches

My wrist watch has "sapphire crystal glass" - I'd always assumed it was just a coating, but having read this I guess it could actually be the whole glass on the face. Wrist watches are fairly small and round, so I guess would be a good fit for current sapphire ingot manufacturing.

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True, but...

Many watches costing over a couple of hundred pounds use solid sapphire glasses, sawn from sausage shaped ingots and then shaped and polished with diamond tools.

They are quite, but not completely, scratchproof. However they are definitely NOT shatterproof. Any hope of a sapphire crystal surviving hammering or even a significant drop onto concrete is fantasy.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: True, but...

Sapphire was used for the windows of Eproms - read only memories that could be erased and reused with ultraviolet light. That brings back memories.

It is indeed very hard, but as you say, far from shatterproof. Indeed, the harder a material, in general, the more likely it is to shatter on impact with another hard material, because the impact energy is dissipated in a smaller space. A lot depends on the crystal structure.

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Re: True, but...

>They are quite, but not completely, scratch-proof. However they are definitely NOT shatterproof. Any hope of a sapphire crystal surviving hammering or even a significant drop onto concrete is fantasy

It depends how it is used. A phone screen is thinner than a watch crystal, and it is only the very outer layer that you want to be hard- maybe it could be combined with a more flexible material. I'm thinking of case-hardened spanners, which are hard on the outside, more flexible on the inside so that they don't break when dropped like a drill bit will.

Many Omega watches use sapphire for the watch crystal but the models used in space used an acrylic-like material... acrylic would be less likely to shatter due to extremes in temperature, and even if it did it would be preferable to tiny shards of sapphire floating around in an enclosed environment.

Back down on earth, the things likely to scratch a sapphire watch face are harder stones in jewellery, diamond dust (if you've been a diamond blade in a disc cutter) and sometimes the anti-slip coating at the bottom of swimming pools.

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Anonymous Coward

"Sapphire was used for the windows of Eproms"

You're thinking of is quartz (silicon oxide), not sapphire.

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Re: True, but...

Yes, Watch faces have used Sapphire for maybe 50 years. Due to the fact it's much more scratch resistant. Cheap watches used to get quite poorly with scratches in a few months due to softness of the glass.

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Windows

Re: Watches

Tissot??

My T-Touch is Sapphire crystal....

The titanium surrounding it is well hammered though...

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Re: Watches

My Omega has a saphire for glass, and I can tell you that when I accidentally hit it with the edge of a spinning grinding disc on an angle-grinder, it saved my wrist from unsightly abarasion, and although metal was smeared accross the glass, this came off, and there was no scratch in the saphire. Incredible stuff, I'll be wanting a phone with that stuff as a screen.

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Re: Watches

This could explain why my Casio waveceptor is still useable after being variously wacked into brass door handles and steel scaffold poles. And I'd wondered why metal was leaving marks on the "glass" that just polished off. It's predecessor was retired after an encounter with the bottom of a swimming pool.

Maybe they should stop wasting time on sapphire, and move straight to make mobile phone screen out of whatever swimming pool coatings are made of, which is clearly the hardest material in the universe.

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I was think along the same lines

I've got a pretty nondescript Omega I've worn every day for the last ooh ~ decade. Steel bracelet has a nice 'patina' from the casual abuse I've subjected it to, but the glass (which is nicely convex and proud on top) is still absolutely flawless.

Always wondered why phones didn't just use the same stuff - and now understand - and can't wait until they do.

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Boffin

Watch cover glass

Sapphire has been used as the cover glass on watches for a long time (at least on the high end). It is also used for infrared optics that require a certain amount of robustness.

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Coat

But remember...

I hope the manufacturers remember that trans-uranic heavy elements may not be used...

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Unhappy

Re: But remember...

Did you come here for a picture of Joanna Lumley too? I'm upset now.

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Happy

Re: But remember...

Oh yes. Those early "art" films featuring Ms Lumley that are no longer in circulation. Mmmmmmm.

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Re: But remember...

certainly not "where there is life"

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Have a gorilla...

Neddie: "Thank you."

FX: 'Roaring and screaming'

Neddie: "My, these gorillas are strong!"

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Re: Have a gorilla...

Neddle naddle noo!

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Thumb Up

Re: Have a gorilla...

You silly twisted boy, you..

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Re: Have a gorilla...

Please... don't do that

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Happy

Re: Have a gorilla...

I prefer a picture of Queen Victoria myself. Cork tipped, of course.

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Happy

Re: Have a gorilla...

Try one of my Monkeys, they're milder...

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Re: Have a gorilla...

No thanks ... I'm trying to give them up!

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Re: Have a gorilla...

Sapristi!

lot of goons in today!

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Re: Have a gorilla...

Moriarty ... I believe we found a Charlie ...

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Re: Have a gorilla...

"lot of goons in today!"

...there's more where that came from...

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Childcatcher

Re: Have a gorilla...

He's fallen in the water!

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Fancy watches...

...use this, and some fancy Omega watches use liquid metal too, which Apple touted a while back. Those are also overpriced, but they're expected to last more than 2 years.

Mean while, you can use a Lumia screen to drive a nail into wood.

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Coat

Re: Those are also overpriced, but they're expected to last more than 2 years.

Do you mean the watches or the Apple products?

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Anonymous Coward

whyPhone

Why specifically say the iPhone? There's nothing in this article to suggest that Apple are working on this, or are likely to be the first to use it.

In fact, it's almost certain that the "next iPhone", due out this year will *not* have a sapphire screen - making the title of this otherwise good article doubly stupid.

My guess is the writer of the article was not the writer of the idiotic linkbait headline.

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Meh

Re: whyPhone

Yeah, also wondering this. I thought when the author said " few chats with people who would know," I thought the Register had found someone with links to people at Apple.

However the article doesn't mention that Apple are going to use this technology or looking at it.

The author seems to have good knowledge of the industry and is providing a very factual and informative article but the whole premise of the article that the next iPhone could be using this undermines it. No evidence (even the "market analyst" quote is mentioned).

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Re: whyPhone

Because the author was using "iPhone" as shorthand for "mobile phone at the expensive end of the spectrum where design is considered a significant factor in peoples' purchasing decisions".

Take a step back and try to stop taking everything so literally. Language is able to convey more subtlety than that if you allow it.

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JDX
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Re: whyPhone

What Tom said - he means top end expensive phone.

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Bod

Definitely not the first

Vertu phones use sapphire glass for the screens. Along with stainless steel and titanium shells. Cough up more of those £1000s and you get precious metal bling and gemstones on top ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: whyPhone

Well, Apple already use sapphire crystal for the camera lens in the iPhone.

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Re: Definitely not the first

And so did the more mundane (in comparison to Vertu) Nokia 8800 back in 2006. They even named it one of the variants "Sapphire Arte". If they had only announced it with a flamboyant presentation, patented it and reminded the world how they were 5 years ahead of anybody else...

I'm getting myself a 8800 sirocco just to snottily pull it out of my pocket whenever a twat brandishes a shiny new gadget pontificating about its revolutionary sapphire screen and him being the first human being to ever hold one.

Negative points for the author 'cos of the Apple baitlink + apparently not having a frigging clue that sapphire was used in phone screens even before the iPhone had seen the light of day.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: whyPhone

Maybe because Apple tends to be on the cutting edge when it comes to materials and designs? okay, some of these designs are bling.

But lets not forget that it was Jobs who introduced the phone market to Gorilla glass when he went looking for a cover for the iPhone 1's screen. Corning had discovered Gorilla glass many years ago and put it on the shelf.

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Re: whyPhone

some articles online say that Corning had invented a tough glass (Chemcor) in the 1960s which they stopped producing in the 1990s. Come the smartphone age, they started thinking what they could do, went back to Chemcor and came up with a new (and patentable) formulation which is Gorilla glass.

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SW
Joke

Never mind the quality - feel the width !

"elephant's tampon girth"

Do I see a new candidate for inclusion in El Reg measurement standards?

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