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Apple keeps its eye on sapphire screens despite major set-back

Apple Watch
Perhaps sapphire was too much of a gem
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Despite losing its primary manufacturing partner, Apple is adamant on producing sapphire screen for its mobile devices.

Reuters reports Apple is currently reviewing its options to continue producing sapphire screens. The Cupertino company is even purportedly considering teaming up again with GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT), the company's former primary sapphire screen producing partner that recently filed for bankruptcy.

"We're going to continue evaluating GTAT's progress on larger sapphire boule (raw cylinders of artificially created sapphire) development, as well as consider other options for the facility," Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said.

Between the sapphire screens used in the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus' Touch ID sensor and a sapphire-laden Apple Watch still on its way, there are many reasons for Apple to continue its production of the scratch-resistant material.

Call it a separation phase

Earlier today a settlement between the two companies revealed GTAT was backing out of its current sapphire production business.

As part of the deal the advanced materials company was allowed to walk away with all its intellectual property. GTAT also agreed to pay back the $439 million (about £272m, AU$498m) Apple had prepaid as an investment.

While GTAT will stop making sapphire materials, it plans to focus on supplying the equipment needed to make sapphire materials. The two firms also agreed to continue in a technical exchange, sharing information on the development of new processes to grow next-generation sapphire.

So although they're broken up, Apple is strongly interested in getting back together with GTAT to produce more sapphire screens in the future. We just hope it doesn't delay the Apple Watch and its vague "early 2015" release time frame.

Kevin Lee is the Hardware and Roundups Editor at IGN Entertainment. Prior to IGN Entertainment, he worked at TechRadar.