Chinese rumor suggests Apple Watch to launch in February, sapphire to blame for low supply

Apple-Watch-Emojji

Chinese site Feng is reporting that Taiwanese media is saying that Apple wants to launch the smartwatch sometime in February. Most recently, The Information said Apple would be “lucky” to release the Apple Watch by Valentine’s Day. Officially, Apple has only quoted ‘early 2015′ as a launch window for the Apple Watch.

According to the report, Apple is supply constrained by the sapphire output of GTAT, which will mean the Apple Watch will hit in limited quantities. However, it is important to note that the low-end Apple Watch, the Apple Watch Sport, does not use sapphire at all, which will make that model easier to source. The higher end versions, Apple Watch and Apple Watch Edition are the SKU’s that will be impacted by sapphire shortages.

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The five reasons Apple never intended to use sapphire displays on the iPhone 6 – Time

sapphire

Time is reporting that, in contrast to the many rumors (and GTAT investor claims), Apple had never planned to use sapphire displays for the iPhone 6, and the company may not use it for future iPhones.

Some reports stated that up until a few weeks before the iPhone announcement, Apple was going to use sapphire but dropped it because of yield issues. This is not true. My sources tell me that sapphire was never targeted for the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus and its role in future iPhones hasn’t even been decided yet.

Speculation about sapphire displays for the iPhone 6 began when Apple built a major new manufacturing facility in Arizona last November. But Time‘s Tim Bajarin says that while the scratch-resistance of the material may have made it sound superficially appealing, there were no fewer than five reasons it would not have made sense to use the material for the iPhone 6 display …

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Analyst & GTAT investor claims all 5.5-inch iPhone 6 models get sapphire, some 4.7-inch models

sapphire

An investment note we’ve seen from analyst and GTAT investor Matt Margolis claims that all 5.5-inch models of the iPhone 6 will come with sapphire screens, while the 4.7-inch model will get either sapphire or Gorilla Glass depending on the specification.

According to sources close to Foxconn’s manufacturing operations the iPhone 6 will come built with sapphire cover screens in both sizes. These sources have also indicated that the 4.7” Phone 6 is being assembled in two varieties, a sapphire cover screen version and a version featuring Gorilla Glass. At this point I do not know the approximate mix between the two cover screen options on the 4.7” iPhone 6. My latest check on the 5.5” iPhone 6 indicates that all units of the device are expected to come protected by a sapphire cover screen at this point …

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Apple files to kick off expanded, potentially ‘jewelry’-classified sapphire production this month

Mesa-Arizona

Apple and State of Arizona filings have come to light today that indicate Apple is rapidly expanding its Mesa, Arizona operations and GT-Advanced sapphire crystal production. PTT Research Senior Analyst and GTAT investor Matt Margolis shared the new documents from his latest research with 9to5Mac. The first interesting piece of the filings is a letter from Apple’s Director of Global Trade Compliance James J. Patton from early July to the U.S Department of Commerce:

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WSJ says Apple considering using sapphire displays in “more-expensive” iPhone models

A new report filed by The Wall Street Journal today is the latest to claim that Apple’s next generation of iPhones will sport sapphire displays. In addition to commentary from analysts over how the more expensive material could impact costs for Apple, the WSJ report includes the following tidbit:

Apple is considering using sapphire screens in more-expensive models of the two new, larger iPhones it plans to debut this fall, if it can get enough of the material, people familiar with the matter say.

Two things are notable in mention above. First, the WSJ mentions “two new, larger iPhones” as reports continue to describe both a 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch model to be introduced with the latter size possibly available after the former. Next, the WSJ describes sapphire displays as possibly only being available on “more-expensive models” of the new iPhones.

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Alleged 4.7-inch iPhone 6 sapphire display meets sandpaper and Joe Rogan’s mean archery skills

arrow

Last week, YouTuber Marques Brownlee got his hands on what is claimed to be a sapphire glass panel from Apple’s upcoming iPhone 6. The initial video (found here) put the panel through a variety of torture tests including, knives, keys, and even a flexibility test to show off the panel’s durability. While there were no scientific tests performed to prove the front glass is actually sapphire, the result of each test was very impressive. Well, apparently that wasn’t enough…

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Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo: Apple’s sapphire-covered ‘iWatch’ to enter mass production in November

One of many iWatch concepts.

Noted analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has provided relatively accurate information on future Apple product plans in the past (but frequent misses on timing), has issued a new report today indicating that the Apple smart watch will enter mass-production in November. Kuo’s previous estimate on production for the “iWatch” indicated that the device would enter mass-production rounds in September. “We have pushed back our estimated time of iWatch mass production from late-September to mid-/ late- November. We also lower our forecast of iWatch 2014 shipments by 40% to 3mn units,” Kuo wrote in today’s report. The analyst claims the push back is due to more complex hardware and software engineering in this first generation Apple product category.

Kuo also provides some tidbits as to what he is expecting the device to feature:

  • Flexible AMOLED display
  • Sapphire coated display cover
  • Higher waterproof standards
  • New system-on-a-chip components

Both a flexible AMOLED display and sapphire crystal display covers have been rumored in previous reports about the Apple smart watch, waterproofing technology makes sense in light of this being a fitness device that straps to a wrist, and we first reported in January that the iWatch will sport a new system on a chip to pack in numerous sensors that could track health data such as steps taken, calories burned, hydration, and sweat. The device, which will also include advanced mapping functionality per multiple sources, will integrate deeply with the iOS 8 operating system and its HealthKit software. We expect the device to be announced at a keynote address in October and launch by the 2014 holiday season.

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Video reportedly shows iPhone 6’s flexible sapphire screen cover

With a long list of leaks in recent months showing mock ups of the 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch iPhones expected for release this fall, today we get a look at what is reportedly our first at the flexibility of the iPhone 6’s new sapphire cover glass. There’s not much information surrounding this leak or confirmation that what we’re looking at is the real deal, but the sapphire material is indeed something Apple has ramped up production of in recent months at its new Arizona plantRead more

Here are the first photos of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6’s alleged display part

Apple is gearing up to launch two larger iPhone sizes this fall: a 4.7-inch version and a 5.5-inch model. While the 4.7-inch version has been leaked extensively with a thinner body design, the 5.5-inch model only saw its first significant leak in the form of a dummy model last week. Today, Sonny Dickson has exclusively shared with us a pair of photos claimed to be showing the LCD display component for that larger iPhone with 5.5-inch screen. The photos show the display attached to a ruler that indicates a screen with a diagonal measurement of approximately 14cm:

measurement

That 14cm converts to the 5.5-inches heavily rumored for the next-generation Apple smartphone. While these photos do not provide us with any breakthrough information about the new iPhone, the photos, at best, do show that Apple is already producing components for the larger sized phone and this means that production is likely nearing. Several reports have indicated that the 5.5-inch model will be in short supply upon launch and that the phone may even be released multiple weeks following the 4.7-inch version…

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GT Advanced provides update on Apple Arizona partnership in latest earnings results

iPhone-6-concept-iCulture-detail

GT Advanced Technology has given an update on the status of its contract to supply Apple with sapphire displays for the upcoming iPhone 6 displays. According to the information provided with the company’s Q1 2014 financial report, Apple has already made three of four payments to GT Advanced for the sapphire, and GT notes that so far it is on track to meet demand.

Apple struck a deal with GTA last year to manufacture the sapphire displays that are expected to appear in the next-generation iPhone at a new plant in Mesa, Arizona. Earlier this year the plant was outfitted with enough sapphire crystal furnaces to create an estimated 100-200 million displays. At the end of April, Apple started sending its first shipments of sapphire to China, where the new iPhone models will be manufactured. These displays are expected to make their debut in the fall of this year along with two new iPhone models, each sporting a different size sapphire screen.

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Will Apple extend sapphire screens to iPads, even at a cost to its margins? [Poll]

ipad-air-layers

While it’s not yet certain that the iPhone 6 screen will get a sapphire layer, that’s certainly the way things look at present – providing a screen that is pretty much impervious to scratches (though no more resistant to breakage).

The problem with sapphire is it’s about ten times as expensive as Gorilla Glass. There have been vague suggestions that new manufacturing techniques might narrow the gap, but it still seems likely that Apple will have to sacrifice a bit of margin to introduce the material.

That’s likely a cost the company can afford, given the marketing benefit of an effectively scratchproof screen. But will we also see sapphire screens on iPads … ?  Read more