Future iPhones might never get sapphire displays after all

Where has all the sapphire gone?

Leading up to Apple's reveal of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus it seemed like a sure thing that the new iPhones would sport scratch-resistant sapphire displays.

All the rumors this year pointed to the same thing: Apple was making deals with sapphire component makers left and right, and with the benefits of the material it seemed like a given.

But the new iPhones feature sapphire only minimally - like on the rear camera's lens cover and their Touch ID sensors - and only the more expensive version of even the Apple Watch uses the material for its main display.

Now, it seems like sapphire might never make it onto iPhone screens, according to new analysis from DisplayMate.

Sapphire, so good

The narrative in the months leading up to the new iPhone announcements was that sapphire would be the perfect material for their displays, but now reports are focusing on sapphire's flaws.

It's expensive, for one thing, and despite its greater scratch resistance it's actually more prone to shattering. Sapphire is also more reflective than glass, making it less ideal in bright environments.

We learned on October 23 that Apple had broken ties with its main sapphire provider, GT Advanced Technologies, and now PC World says GT has filed for bankruptcy and is selling its sapphire furnaces.

If the new anti-glare layer sitting on top of the iPad Air 2's screen makes it onto future iPhones, like the iPhone 7, using sapphire above or beneath it would be rendered pointless.

Apple may still have its eye on sapphire displays, but it's looking less and less likely these days than it was a few months ago.

Michael Rougeau

Michael Rougeau is a former freelance news writer for TechRadar. Studying at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Northeastern University, Michael has bylines at Kotaku, 1UP, G4, Complex Magazine, Digital Trends, GamesRadar, GameSpot, IFC, Animal New York, @Gamer, Inside the Magic, Comic Book Resources, Zap2It, TabTimes, GameZone, Cheat Code Central, Gameshark, Gameranx, The Industry, Debonair Mag, Kombo, and others.

Micheal also spent time as the Games Editor for Playboy.com, and was the managing editor at GameSpot before becoming an Animal Care Manager for Wags and Walks.