The possibility of configuring sapphire glass on smartphones is getting smaller and smaller


Abstract Sapphire screen is an old topic. Many people know that sapphire is not a new screen. It is just a protective glass. Compared to current chemically strengthened glass, sapphire glass has a higher hardness, so scratches are less likely to occur. Sapphire glass does not enhance the display...
The sapphire screen is an old topic. Many people know that sapphire is not a new screen. It is just a protective glass. Compared to current chemically strengthened glass, sapphire glass has a higher hardness, so scratches are less likely to occur. Sapphire glass does not enhance the display. In the past, sapphire glass has been used on watches, not something new. In fact, smart phones need to be equipped with sapphire glass, and Apple's leader in the smart phone industry has a relationship with a sapphire company.

High cost is the biggest shortcoming of sapphire glass
Apple and sapphire producer GT Advanced Technologies has been entangled. It has invested about $1 billion to support its establishment in Arizona, which is huge and is expected to produce sapphire glass for 100 million smartphones, more than twice the total of all sapphire glass suppliers worldwide, but Due to the cost reduction, Apple did not purchase sapphire glass on a large scale, so GT Advanced Technologies also declared bankruptcy.

The development of chemical glass is also very fast
In fact, it seems that the iPhone is equipped with sapphire glass, and the added value itself is not necessarily high. After all, Chinese users like filming very much, so no matter what kind of glass, it doesn't really mean much to users. And the sapphire glass is fragile, so the meaning of sapphire glass is not great. In addition to the main supplier of chemical glass, Corning is also introducing a more rigid chemical glass, so the chances of sapphire glass equipped with iPhone-based smartphones are getting smaller and smaller.

After interviewing a lot of people and understanding the current research, China Superhard Materials Network found that the reasons why the sapphire screen is getting farther away from the smartphone include:
1, design
Smartphones are designed to be thinner, lighter, and larger. This is not easy. To be bulkier when it gets bigger, you need a thinner, lighter material. We know that the density of sapphire is more than 30% larger than that of glass. If the sapphire screen is widely used in mobile phones, it will definitely be discounted in both light and thin. Corning has already demonstrated that gorilla glass can be made thinner than paper, and it can be made more resistant to damage through a strengthening process. Flexibility and adaptability in the design process are important. The latest smartphones from Samsung, Apple and other mobile phone manufacturers have adopted a sleek design with a glass screen slightly curved at the edge of the phone. This is because the glass screen can be made very thin, and it can still use chemical means to increase the strength, more toughness, and shape ability to meet the sleek design of the iPhone 6 and the like. The same volume of sapphire sinks than glass, and can only be cut and molded to create a large sapphire plane, which not only increases the cost, but also may encounter various problems in manufacturing.

2, cost
Cost is an important factor for consumers, and today's smartphone industry is highly competitive. Apple has reached the upper limit of pricing, and other devices competing with the iPhone are either the same price or the price is lower. If the sapphire screen is used, the price will have to be set higher. The cost of making a piece of sapphire is estimated to be about 10 times that of tempered glass. In fact, a source told me that it may be more than 10 times. Our previous research found that if Apple configured a sapphire screen for a new generation of iPhone, the cost would increase by $100. This will drive away mainstream iPhone consumers.

3, battery life
At present, consumers' biggest complaints about mobile phones are battery life, so mobile phone manufacturers need to find all the power-consuming components, and then break each. The screen is one of the most power-hungry components. According to Bernstein Research, which studies the advantages of glass as a covering material relative to sapphire, the glass has a much stronger light transmission capability than sapphire. Therefore, in order to get the same brightness, the sapphire screen consumes more power. This problem cannot be easily solved because the characteristics of sapphire determine that its light transmission ability is not as good as that of glass. The properties of sapphire also affect its anti-reflective ability. Glass has an anti-reflective solution implanted in it that mitigates reflections when looking at the screen in outdoor sunlight. However, the anti-reflection of sapphire can only be achieved by coating, and the coating will be worn away over time. This alone makes it difficult for Apple to use the sapphire screen in future iPhones, because most people's iPhones take at least two years.

4. Impact on the environment
Vendors know that consumers are now more concerned about the environmental impact of their products. The energy used to make sapphire is 100 times that of glass. The mere factor of energy consumption makes sapphire a problem with smartphone screen materials. None of the people I spoke with knew how to solve this problem, which is determined by the characteristics of the sapphire material itself.

5, durability
This is the most respected advantage of sapphire and may be the most misunderstood. It is because of this that I have previously misunderstood Apple's use of sapphire screens in the new iPhone from the event of Apple's cooperation with GT Advanced. Sapphire is very hard and hard to scratch. This is why products like luxury watches use sapphire. But there are not many attempts to apply sapphire to the screen of a mobile phone. In fact, sapphire is a very hard crystal, but it is not tough and very brittle. The structure of the sapphire itself makes it easy to carry the defects that the crystal plane has. I have learned from a variety of sources that some sapphire and tempered glass have been tested against scratches and damage. Sapphire performs better than scratch in terms of scratch resistance, but it is more likely to break than glass when dropped. Glass is indeed more resilient than sapphire and more successfully absorbs the impact of a fall. Sapphire is commonly used in products such as luxury watches, which do not have to face the danger of falling down on smartphones.
Like many people who don't understand and blindly praise sapphire, I think sapphire is not broken. But in the process of communicating with different experts, they asked me to imagine an ice (also a crystal) when considering this problem. The tiny cracks will make the surface of the ice more and more fragile until a certain pressure makes it broken. These tiny cracks accumulate when we use our mobile phone every day, hit it in our wallets, pockets, keys, change, or rub it on the counter. Gorilla Glass's solution is to chemically alter the atomic structure of the glass, strengthening the area around the scratched area and protecting the glass from breakage. Although visible scratches may occur earlier, over time, the glass screen is more complete than the sapphire screen. Once the sapphire has scratches or cracks, whether it is visible or not, there is a high risk of breakage. For watches, this problem is not serious, because the watch is rarely dropped, and the watch screen is much smaller. But the smartphone screen is bigger than the watch, and the application scene is more complicated. It is difficult to ensure that the sapphire screen can avoid the risk of broken screen more than the glass screen.
I don't doubt that there may be some breakthroughs in sapphire technology in the future. The new coating technology allows sapphire to be used on smartphones. However, as far as my research is concerned, such a breakthrough may not occur in the short term. Moreover, at least in my opinion, sapphire has no toughness and brittleness, making it difficult to apply to large-screen mobile phones, even if there is a way to protect the sapphire screen from cracking. I now understand at least why Apple is not using sapphire screens on new iPhones, and the more I research, the more I feel that if Apple uses sapphire material (except Apple Watch) in the near future, it may encounter many problems.

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