Apple to go big on sapphire in iPhone 6, iPad 6 and beyond?

Touch ID
Not the sapphires we're used to seeing in rings and things

You've probably never heard of GT Advanced Technologies, but in future Apple devices, the firm could end up playing a headline-grabbing role.

The company, which provides crystal grow equipment and materials for consumer electronics, among other industries, announced today that it's signed a multi-year supply agreement with Apple to provide sapphire materials.

Sapphire has figured prominently in recent Apple products - the iPhone 5S' Touch ID fingerprint reader features a cut sapphire crystal cover and the iPhone 5 was the first to feature a sapphire crystal lens.

Now, word on the street is Apple could use the resilient material in future touchscreens. It's first go at the tech has been rumored for the iPhone 6, presumed to release in 2014. Apple would certainly extend the hard yet crystal clear sapphire coating to its other product lines, including the next iPad.

Sapphire sharp

As part of the deal, GT will own and operate the equipment needed to produce sapphire at a new Apple plant in Arizona. GT Advanced Technologies is fast tracking development of next-gen, large capacity furnaces "to deliver low cost, high volume manufacturing of sapphire materials."

Apple would have access to loads of this stuff on the cheap, ideal for mass production of millions of handsets, tablets and more.

The GT Advanced Technologies and Apple deal is still young, and with the iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, iPad Air and iPad mini 2 with Retina display newly announced, we're a ways away from seeing scratch-resistant sapphire make it to next-gen Apple products.

Perhaps something prone to daily nicks and bruises could get a sapphire front first? Say, something like the iWatch?

Via AllThingsD

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.