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iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending Aug. 1

John Cox | Aug. 5, 2014
Just in time for trick or treat 2014, the iPhone 6 actually will be available in October, a somewhat skeptical iOSphere learned this week. Because it will be announced nearly a full month earlier, in September, we can just savor the pending release over the subsequent weeks.

My iPhone extended my life expectancy. My iPhone made me more health conscious. My iPhone improved my quality of life. My iPhone made me more confident. My iPhone improved my marriage. My iPhone helped me be successful with girls.

Give it a rest.

iPhone 6 will not have a sapphire cover for its display

According to AppleInsider's Sam Oliver, iPhone 6 will be lacking a synthetic sapphire cover glass "thanks to poor yield rates for sapphire ingot and problems with the processing of the material."

That's his interpretation of what he calls a "new report, which suggests that Apple is unlikely to ship a sapphire-covered device in large quantities this year."

It's not actually a "report." It's a press release, put out by market research firm TrendForce, on behalf of its LEDinside division.

LEDinside notes a distinct lack of "optical demands" in handheld devices, which have "failed to generate price upticks in the sapphire substrate industry. In fact, prices for sapphire ingots, substrates and patterned sapphire are all down 5-10 percent quarter-to-quarter. Optical demands also "lagged behind sapphire manufacturers' production expansion, and order volumes have fallen short of expectations."

LEDinside says there is still demand for the smaller sapphire covers, for Apple smartphone camera lenses and its fingerprint recognition sensors.

"However, the much anticipated sapphire cover glass remains missing from the picture. Analysis of the iPhone 6 supply chain indicates related component suppliers need to ship products to OEMs for assembly in June 2014 to meet the September launch date," according to the press release.

[FYI, LEDinside seems to think that sapphire may not make it into the rumored iWatch, either. "Since sapphire glass processing is relatively difficult, it would be problematic to mass produce sapphire watch cover glass if the iWatch is 2.5 D. Additionally, sapphire glass processing will become even more strenuous if the wearable device uses flexible OLED panels."]

You can see why Sam Oliver concludes that the lack of sapphire display cover shipments is likely to point to either a delayed or seriously constrained release for a sapphire-covered iPhone, the firm argues," even though the firm did not, in fact, argue that or even hint that.

In any case, this seems to miss the point. LEDinside is looking at the current sapphire supply industry. Until now, Apple has been a buyer in that market, for small sapphire covers. But Apple is making an aggressive billion-dollar investment in sapphire throughout its supply chain, starting with its company-owned sapphire production plant in Mesa, Ariz., with furnaces from GT Advanced Technologies. [see "How Apple's billion dollar sapphire bet will pay off"] In other words, Apple is about to become its own sapphire supplier (and probably one of the largest in the world).


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