Apple is doubling down on sapphire screens and it looks like the iWatch will indeed feature the tough material alongside the iPhone 6.

The Wall Street Journal reports Apple's first line of sapphire screens for smartphone and watches are expected to roll off its production lines at a Mesa, Arizona factory by the end of August.

The Journal, by the way, casually dropped mention of the iWatch in a larger report about Apple sapphire production.

Supposedly the iPhone maker has spent up to $700 million (about £419m, AU$751m) to open a massive sapphire-producing factory with GT Advanced Technologies. This one US-based plant will purportedly produce up to twice the amount of sapphire displays as nearly 100 manufacturing sites worldwide.

Big ticket screen

Sapphire has long been an expensive material to work with even as factories produce the gem artificially rather than mining it from the ground. As a result, the tough-as-diamonds material has been used sparingly in places like airplane windows and luxury watch faces.

Apple and GT Advanced Technologies have reportedly found a way to drive down costs by mixing glass into the formula. Still some industry analysts claim a sapphire screen will cost $16 (about £9, AU$17) to produce. Current Gorilla Glass iPhone displays cost about $3 (about £1, AU$3) to make,

Sapphire has already made it way to the iPhone camera lens covers and the Touch ID fingerprint scanner on the iPhone 5S. Covering the entire front face of every iPhone 6 with sapphire, plus the added the start-up costs of building the Arizona factory, could cause the iPhone prices to rise to unprecedented heights.

For now though the cost concerns are theories and conjecture amongst analysts. Apple may ultimately be willing to eat the cost of the higher-end screens if it means selling more new iPhones.

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