Apple will finally begin offering iPhone 5s screen replacements in its official U.S. and Canada retail stores in the coming days, according to several sources. Apple Store Genius Bars are said to have begun taking delivery of large quantities of iPhone 5s screens for the repair program. The crucial service’s debut is currently scheduled for Monday, August 4th. This upcoming rollout will mark an official launch as a few stores in the U.S. have piloted iPhone 5s screen repairs over the past several months. Apple officially rolled out iPhone 5c screen repairs in January, and it began replacing other iPhone 5c and 5s parts late in 2013. The screen replacements will cost approximately $150 per repair, and this is more affordable than the $269 price of completely replacing a broken iPhone 5s.
Apple could be planning to launch its annual Back to School sales promotion within the next two weeks. Apple Stores, according to several employees, will be changing the front of store glass window displays overnight on June 30th. This is the usual timeframe in which Apple launches a promotion to boost Mac, iPad, and iPhone sales in anticipation of the new school year in the fall.
Last year, the Back to School promotion consisted of $100 App Store gift cards for Mac purchases and $50 cards for iPad and iPhone purchases by students with their Student IDs. Of course, this June 30th window change could be connected to another promotion or a new product, but based on the timing, the Back to School program being in the wings seems most likely.
Last year, Apple and GT Advanced struck a deal to open and operate a manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona related to sapphire crystal components.
Earlier this year, we learned that Apple is “aggressively” pushing to make the facility operational by February 2014 and that the building would produce a “critical” and “new” sub-component for future Apple devices. Due to the vagueness and secrecy surrounding Apple and GT Advanced’s plans, there has been little to no confirmation regarding what exactly the partnership will yield for future Apple products.
But, thanks to new documents and information that we have uncovered with help of analyst Matt Margolis, we have a clearer picture of Apple’s plans…
In an effort to combat spreading germs and bacteria through sharing smart phones and touch screen devices, Corning announced today plans to produce a Gorilla Glass variant with an antimicrobial surface for inhibiting bacterial growth. This version of Corning Gorilla Glass is made up of an antibacterial agent and contains levels of ionic silver that sustains the germ fighting capabilities through the life of the surface, according to the company. Read more
In a conversation with a Google employee who is working on the Glass project, Frederic Lardinois was informed that they are adding more-complete iPhone compatibility to Glass “very soon”:
Glass, the Google employee told me, will soon be able to handle these features independent of the device the user has paired it to (and maybe even independent of the Glass companion app).
While Glass will happily work with any iPhone over Bluetooth or use any Wi-Fi connection to get online, iPhone users are currently unable to get turn-by-turn directions through Glass – one of its killer features. Those direction are pretty useful while you are navigating a new city and they do show off the power of location-based apps on Glass, but the software will currently balk if you ask it to give you directions while it’s connected to an iPhone.
For Android phone users, Glass owners have to run a companion app on their connected phone to enable all of Glass’ functionality. However, it is unclear how complete feature parity is going to be achieved on the more-restricted iOS.
Apple’s relationship with Corning has always remained shrouded in mystery. The relationship started famously when Steve Jobs visited Corning Headquarters in 2006 and told CEO Wendell Weeks not to be afraid to make the stuff. Corning however never made it into Apple marketing material after that and even isn’t included in Apple’s supplier lists (PDF).
That and Apple’s reliance on Asian parts materials makers had led some to believe that Apple had gone to Asian glass manufacturers for their iPhone production.
In the New York Times’ iEconomy series, Corning is said to have shifted its glass manufacturing to China.
“Our customers are in Taiwan, Korea, Japan and China,” said James B. Flaws, Corning’s vice chairman and chief financial officer. “We could make the glass here, and then ship it by boat, but that takes 35 days. Or, we could ship it by air, but that’s 10 times as expensive. So we build our glass factories next door to assembly factories, and those are overseas.”
However, today, Apple released its US Jobs report which included the following info:
Corning employees in Kentucky and New York who create the majority of the glass for iPhone,..
What’s the takeaway? Read more
ADR Studio’s Antonio De Rosa, the designer behind many unofficial Apple concept products in the past, just published his latest design— the iPhone SJ. According to ADR, the concept would include a “Totally glass capacitive screen on a polycarbonate lightweight body” and a moniker inspired by Steve Jobs.
Other specifications imagined by De Rosa as part of the concept include a new 10-megapixel camera and an A6 dual core processor; although, those specifications are obviously just a wish list at this point. As you can see from the mockups, the concept has a much slimmer design and a slightly rounded edge from the back and front panels to the bezel. Otherwise, the concept borrows much of its design from the current iPhone 4 and 4S.
In January we told you about a class action lawsuit filed by a Los Angeles man who describes the iPhone 4’s glass back panel as a “design flaw” and claims Apple “refuses to warn consumers” about its susceptibility to cracked glass under normal usage . We already know the iPhone 4S hasn’t made many improvements in terms of the durability of its glass casing, but a new patent application shows exactly what Apple has been working on to better implement a drop-resistant all glass design.
Our friends over at PatentlyApple detail the patent which describes different embodiments of including a shock mount made of polymer, foam, gel, or similar material in a future iPhone or iPad’s cover glass (as usual Apple also mentions the majority of their other products including iMacs, MacBooks, iPods, displays, and televisions). In one solution, Apple describes a “mechanically actuated retractable”, which would essnetially allow the cover glass to withdraw “at least partially into the housing in response to sensing the drop event, thereby protecting for the cover glass.” The report explains:
Macrumors notes that the boarded up Fifth Avenue Apple Store now reveals plans to improve the appearance of the cube by using “bigger, seamless” panes of glass. The number of panes will drop from 90 to just 15 (3 per side).
We’re simplifying the Fifth Avenue cube. By using larger, seamless pieces of glass, we’re using just 15 panes instead of 90.
The upgrade reportedly costs $6 million. We’d be very surprised if the renovation isn’t complete for the October iPhone 5 launch.
Update: The Gothamist posts a rendering:
One of the more controversial components of the iPhone 4 is its non-Gorilla glass backing. Glass is a great material for displays obviously because it is transparent, relatively strong and scratch-resistant. However, it is more questionable for the back of a device because it breaks spectacularly where traditional materials are stronger and lighter.
But it does look awesome on the back of the iPhone 4.
So the question of the day: Should Apple’s next iPhone continue to use a glass backing or should they move to a different material like plastic, aluminum or liquid metal?
Although the previous generation iPod nano had curved glass (it wasn’t universally loved), the Samsung Nexus S was the first mainstream smartphone with curved glass. If Digitimes is right, the iPhone 5 may be the second (and likely more popular).
…the latest being circulated around the supply chain in Taiwan is that Apple is going to adopt a curved cover glass for its next generation model, according to industry sources.
That would seem to fly in the face of recent reports that the iPhone 5 would be very similar to the iPhone 4 in appearance. Digitimes has found what they think is anecdotal evidence.
However, in order to push forward the production of curved glass, Apple reportedly has purchased 200-300 glass cutting machines to be used by glass makers, said the sources.
The glass slicing machines are currently being stored at associated assembly plants and will be brought online once yield rates for the production of curved glass reaches a satisfactory level, the sources revealed.
Although Samsung is a competitor wrapped in lawsuits with Apple, it is also a major supplier and obviously has experience with curved glass screens. Read more