One of the main reasons for iPhone warranty claims is cracked and broken screens.
With the iPhone 5, Apple addressed part of the problem by replacing the glass back casing with anodized aluminum with inlays along the top and bottom made of ceramic glass (on the white and silver model) or pigmented glass (on the black and slate model).
Apple also used sapphire crystal to cover the rear camera. Here’s what Apple has to say about it on the iPhone 5 design page:
Although the surface of the iSight camera is as clear as glass, it’s not made of glass. It’s actually sapphire crystal, whose hardness is second only to diamond on the scale of transparent materials. That means the surface of the lens is far less likely to scratch.
Sapphire, a crystalline form of aluminum oxide, probably won’t ever be as cheap as Gorilla Glass, the durable material from Corning that’s used to make screens on iPhones and other smartphones. A Gorilla Glass display costs less than $3, while a sapphire display would cost about $30. But that could fall below $20 in a couple of years thanks to increased competition and improving technology, says Eric Virey, an analyst for the market research firm Yole Développement. And since sapphire performs better than glass, that price could make it cheap enough to compete, he says.
This would mean that smartphone screens won’t crack when you drop them and can’t be scratched with keys, or even by a concrete sidewalk.
Unfortunately, the thing that would prevent them from being used in smartphones is cost. Eric Virey, an analyst for the market research firm Yole Développement notes that Gorilla Glass display costs less than $3, while a sapphire display can cost as much as $30. The cost could however drop below $20 in couple of years with increased competition and improving technology.
Virey expects some high-end smartphones with sapphire display to be launched as early as this year. Let’s hope Apple is one of the vendors as I really want to use my iPhone without a cover. What about you?