iPhone 6 lineup missed sapphire glass panels by mere ‘weeks,’ according to analyst

iPhone 6 sapphire glass panel

Rumors regarding the use of sapphire glass for the displays in the iPhone 6 lineup were constant, furious and stubborn. Even as analysts went back and forth on its expected usage, it refused to die. Now, a new analyst report suggests Apple was actually pretty close to including it after all.

But, according to the report, issues arose. According to a report issued by Matt Margolis, which cites a series of supply chain sources, the sapphire glass missed the chance of being included in the iPhone 6 lineup by mere “weeks.” According to the same sources it wasn’t GT Advanced Technologies that had the issues, as the manufacturer was busy shipping out sapphire glass from its plant in Arizona, but rather with the next step in the process.

It was here, within finishing plants in China where the yield issues with transitioning the sapphire glass into iPhone 6 displays cropped up:

The issue that emerged is that the finishers were still having trouble creating the sapphire edges and yields were only at 25% or less. I am under the impression that GT’s management knew about this last minute shift away from sapphire screens prior to the August 5th conference call and it may have resulted in lower guidance for 2014 by $100m.

GT is still tasked with sending out sapphire glass, however, and its focus is reportedly still steadfast. The report states that these sapphire glass orders are now being diverted to the Apple Watch, the wearable the company announced alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus on September 9.

I believe GT and Apple still have very big plans for sapphire as a cover screen on mobile devices. Apple may pay continue to pay GT for sapphire bricks that they ship even though the iPhone is not covered up by a sapphire cover screen. Another option thrown on the table is that Apple could even push back the Apple prepayment requirements until the finishing yields are addressed. One item that remains clear is that GT will continue to push out as much sapphire as humanly possible from Mesa.

The iPhone 6 features a 4.7-inch display, while the larger iPhone 6 Plus boasts a 5.5-inch screen. They will go on sale beginning September 19, with pre-orders kicking off for many wireless carriers (and presumably Apple as well) beginning at 12:01 AM PST, Friday, September 12.

[via MacRumors; Wall Street Forensics]