The ever-present rumors that Apple will move from Corning's Gorilla Glass to a new screen covering based on sapphire in its next-generation iPhone are said to have caused South Korean competitors Samsung and LG to look at the material more closely, according to a Friday report.
Apple partner GT Advanced Technologies on Wednesday announced results for its first fiscal quarter of 2014, showing a widening loss and revenue drop compared to last year as the company ramps up sapphire production for a joint project with Apple in Arizona.
GT Advanced Technologies, the sapphire manufacturer with which Apple has a multi-million-dollar deal, reportedly began shipping small quantities of sapphire to one of Apple's manufacturing partners in China last month, gearing up for mass production later this year.
Apple and sapphire manufacturing partner GT Advanced Technologies are looking to expand operations at the companies' Mesa, Ariz., facility, possibly to accommodate higher yields for an as-yet-unknown component, AppleInsider has learned.
While Apple remains coy about plans to incorporate sapphire into its product lineup, a new patent application published on Thursday suggests the company is at the least experimenting with the hard material for use in touch-capable displays.
Fresh photos of Apple's Mesa, Ariz., sapphire plant, built in partnership with GT Advanced Technologies, show construction of external fixtures is progressing as planned, while a new rumor claims the site may be expanded to a neighboring building.
During a conference call on Tuesday, Corning Glass executive Tony Tripeny named the apparently numerous drawbacks to using sapphire crystal in a mobile device, something which Apple is widely expected to do with an upcoming iPhone.
Though GT Advanced Technologies Inc. did not reveal this week exactly when it will be supplying sapphire glass to Apple en masse, the company did issue a public statement revealing that its arrangement with the iPhone maker is "progressing well."