The next iPhone could pack a resilient sapphire screen, speculation suggests, after Apple inked a landmark deal with GT Advanced Technologies.
Since the iPhone 4 Apple has favoured Gorilla Glass for iPhone displays, a material thereafter widely adopted across the smartphone sector.
However, the tech giant could be about to break with recent tradition and opt for screen tech that's hitherto been restricted to prototype devices. Or at least that’s what a report from AllThingsD suggests, anyway.
The site reveals that Apple has agreed a deal for GT to supply Apple with sapphire, as well as machines to process the material to be installed at the Cali company's factories. GT will also be contracted to operate the machinery.
GT already provides a sapphire crystal cover for the Touch ID-enabled home button that debuted on the iPhone 5S and the extension of the partners' arrangement adds heft to suggestions that fingerprint scanning is also coming to iPads soon.
The really interesting development, though, is that the deal also includes provisions for GT to create a furnace with a larger capacity to “deliver low-cost, high-volume manufacturing of sapphire material".
This is being interpreted as a sign that Apple is considering sapphire as a constituent in its next-generation smartphones.
Assuming that’s so, we can likely look forward to handset displays on future iPhones – and maybe even the iPhone 6 - that are nigh-on indestructible.
Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet told AllThingsD: “We are proud to expand our domestic manufacturing initiative with a new facility in Arizona, creating more than 2,000 jobs in engineering, manufacturing and construction.
“This new plant will make components for Apple products and it will run on 100% renewable energy from day one.”
The deal is worth $578 million to GT, which is contracted to supply sapphire for a five-year period from 2015.