Coming Up: The Sapphire iPhone?

Photo Credit: William Hook via Compfight cc

Kevin Bullis of the MIT Technology Review looks at manufactured sapphire, which is currently used for armor on military vehicles and may be coming soon to an iPhone screen near you:

Sapphire is harder than any other natural material except diamond; by some measures, it’s three times stronger than Gorilla Glass, and it is also about three times more scratch resistant. That’s why Apple uses it now to protect the camera on its iPhone 5. [Eric] Virey says that all major mobile-phone makers are considering using sapphire to replace glass. “I’m convinced that some will start testing the water and release some high-end smartphones using sapphire in 2013,” he says.

(HT: The Big Picture)

Ryan F.

I hope this means the next smart phones can survive a simple drop. My Gorilla Glass screen couldn't make it through a 2' drop, now I'm paying half the costs of the phone just to replace a cracked screen.

Samrat Patil

It'll still be brittle as your gorilla glass. So, still, it won't survive drops.


There is a already shappire screen Android phone, it is called Vertu Ti, thought it might be a bit expensive.

Mike B

Sapphire is a gemstone so you should call the material what it really is when mass produced as a component...aluminum oxide.

I would prefer to see a switch to Aluminum oxynitride, better known as transparent aluminum.


And depending on the impurities present (which cause the stone's color), the same material can be other gemstones, such as ruby.


Anyone owning a sapphire crystal watch can see why this may be a bad idea. Sure, you won't scratch it on a zipper, but it will shatter if struck or dropped.


I think that the problem with technology is that its moving too rapidly and we are never pleased with what we have. We are always anticipating the next big thing and are not content with what we already have. There are many unaccounted cons that come along with creating new products like the sapphire iphone. To mine the sapphire we come across many detrimental environmental impacts. We are disturbing land, adding to water pollution, and degrading precious resources. We as consumers need to take a step back and just be grateful with what we have. Putting a demand for the latest and greatest products is one reason our economy and environment is suffering.


Or perhaps the drive to constantly improve is what allows us to make huge advances in information technology, medicine, agriculture, clean energy, and transportation?