Apple Watch takes #1 in Consumer Reports lab tests of 11 smartwatches (Video)

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We got an early indication that Consumer Reports were impressed with the Apple Watch when they were unable to scratch the sapphire screen of the stainless steel model. The well-respected non-profit has now revealed that the full set of lab tests are complete, and the Apple Watch ranked top out of the 11 smartwatches tested.

Consumer reports tested the watches for durability, water-resistance, health functionality, readability in bright and low light, ease of use, and ease of interaction – though there was one slightly worrying moment for the Apple Watch Sport …  Read more

Apple Watch sapphire rivals those of classic sapphire watches (Video)

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There’s certainly a benefit to Apple’s use of sapphire crystal on Apple Watch. It’s extremely scratch resistant (even though stainless steel may not be) and will hold up over time, but how does it compare to sapphire crystal used in traditional watches? In a new video published by Unbox Therapy, Apple Watch was put up against a Tissot watch to see if Apple’s standards for sapphire crystal match up with traditional watchmakers….

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Consumer Reports initial tests unable to scratch Apple Watch sapphire, find heart-rate sensors accurate

I can’t remember if we’re still mad at Consumer Reports for Antennagate but they seem to be doing a thorough job at testing the Apple Watch as evidenced in the video below. Notable from their Day 1 tests is that the Apple Watch Sport screen does scratch but only after going pretty far down the Moh’s hardness scale (7-rated) into the unlikely to ever happen category.

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The Sapphire Apple Watch however wouldn’t scratch under any circumstances, though it doesn’t appear that Consumer Reports had a diamond pick to test it against. Regardless, for intents and purposes, you likely will never see a scratch on the face of the Apple Watch (the back is a different matter)… Read more

Apple Watch Sport’s ‘Ion-X’ glass gets put through scratch test (Video)

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If you’re still having trouble deciding between the Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport, there’s a new video that may make it a bit easier. Not too long ago, a video was released that tested the scratch resistance of the Apple Watch’s sapphire glass panel, but today the Ion-X glass found on the Sport model gets put through the same treatment. Will it hold up against the torture?

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Apple invests $2b in failed GTAT sapphire plant to create global command center

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Following the October surprise bankruptcy filed by GT Advanced Technologies—a key sapphire supplier for the iPhone—Apple today announced plans to invest $2 billion over the next 30 years in the failed plant. The Mesa, Arizona-located plant will become the central command center for its various data centers around the globe.

“We’re proud to continue investing in the U.S. with a new data center in Arizona, which will serve as a command center for our global networks,” Kristin Huguet, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, wrote in an e-mailed statement on Monday. “This multibillion-dollar project is one of the largest investments we’ve ever made.”

Shortly after the bankruptcy announcement from GT Advanced Technologies, Apple described the decision as surprising while adding that the company would focus on job preservation. Read more

Apple Watch launch expected in March, retail training set for mid-February

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Apple is finishing up work on the Apple Watch’s software, and sources familiar with the product’s development say that the device is currently on track to ship in the United States by the end of March. Apple previously said that the wearable product will ship in “early 2015,” while Senior Vice President of Retail Angela Ahrendts got a bit more specific by telling employees that the launch will occur in the “spring,” after the Chinese New Year…

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GT Advanced creditors to gain access to Apple documents in settlement probe

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As Apple and would-be sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies come closer to a settlement following the latter’s recent bankruptcy announcement, GT’s creditors will get to take a look under the wraps of the secretive Cupertino tech giant.

As noted earlier today by the Wall Street Journal, Apple will provide GT’s creditors with documents regarding the companies’ arrangement in response to inquiries attempting to determine whether the proposed settlement is fair, or whether Apple is trying to take advantage of the situation.

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Apple supplier Corning says new Gorilla Glass 4 twice as shatter-resistant in drop tests (Video)

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The GTAT mess may have forced Apple to abandon its presumed plans to replace iPhone Gorilla Glass screens with sapphire, but next year’s iPhone displays could still prove up to twice as shatter-resistant, says glass-maker Corning.

Corning said that studying hundreds of broken phone screens had revealed the unsurprising fact that shattered screens most commonly occurred in a one-meter drop onto a rough surface like concrete or asphalt. Drop tests in these conditions found that Gorilla Glass 4 survived up to 80% of such impacts – twice the record of the Gorilla Glass 3 used in current iPhones.

While there was much scientific testing behind the scenes, the videos the company used to illustrate the improved strength were rather less scientific in nature …

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More details of Apple’s GT Advanced sapphire deal make it crystal clear how things fell apart

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Photo via WSJ

The Wall Street Journal has revealed key details of the failed deal between Apple and sapphire supplier GT Advanced Technologies that show why the agreement collapsed and how GT managed to run itself into bankruptcy while trying to meet Apple’s standards.

A previous report from the Journal revealed that GTAT had been unable to provide the iPhone 6 displays it had promised Apple, but now we have even more information on why that demand was so hard to meet.

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GT Advanced COO discusses Apple’s sapphire fallout, here are the interesting bits

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While lawyers for bankrupt sapphire supplier GT Advanced confirmed previously that it had reached an agreement to repay Apple approximately $439 million, many details regarding what exactly went wrong in the partnership had not been disclosed publicly. Today we get what might be the clearest explanation yet of what happened between the two companies leading up to GTAT filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month.  In a declaration filed by COO of GT Advanced Daniel Squiller with the courts yesterday (via Fortune), the company outlines previously sealed info regarding its deal with Apple and terms of the deal that lead to GT’s bankruptcy filing.

When GTAT initially entered into negotiations to sell sapphire furnaces to Apple, it had no sense that, having borrowed hundreds of millions of dollars to pay for the components of more than 2,036 sapphire furnaces, it would end up being unable to meet its cost and production targets for reasons that it believes were beyond its control as well as unforeseen difficulties in scaling its technology to 262kg boules to meet evolving product specifications.

While noting that the deal was “an ambitious transaction for the production of sapphire in quantities, size and quality never before achieved,” the document reveals a number of strict terms Apple imposed in the deal that the company describes as limiting its ability to achieve Apple’s requirements for sapphire production. Here’s a few of the more interesting bits: Read more

Apple will continue evaluating GTAT’s sapphire production progress, could repurpose Mesa facility

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Following news this week that Apple had reached at a settlement with bankrupt sapphire manufacturer GT Advanced, today the company has responded to the situation in a comment to Recode. While GT previously said it would wind down sapphire production operations at its Mesa, Arizona plant and sell furnaces to repay the $439M owed to Apple, today Apple hinted it might have its own plans for the facility. Read more

GT Advanced informs over 700 Mesa, Arizona employees that they will be laid off by December 15

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Apple’s bankrupt former sapphire supplier is seeking to shut down its Mesa, Arizona plant and has informed 727 employees that they will be laid off between today and December 15th, according to AZ Central. The breakdown of the jobs being cut includes:

…524 production workers, 108 technical positions, 70 management jobs and 25 administrative jobs, according to the notice signed by Linda Luman, vice president of human resources for GT.

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