It seems that Steve Jobs probably left a capable successor to maintain its legacy of innovative products. There is a strong “rumor” that the future iPhone screens would be made of rock-hard yet clear Sapphire. This hard-to-break screens would be highly resistant to scratches, yet crispy clear to give an extra value to customers. This transition from glass screen to Sapphire screen could become a novelty craze among future smartphone customers.
The first iPhone was launched in 2007, with glass screens instead of originally planned plastic screens. The change was hastily done at the direction of Steve Jobs himself who was utterly unhappy of the scratches on plastic prototype that he had been using before the launch. It resulted in a glossy and clear glass screen that stayed like that for a long time unlike plastic screens. However, glass screens had a disadvantage of being prone to breakage. It was reported that its latest variants 5S and 5C are even more breakable than its predecessors. Undoubtedly, this yielded a great business to the repair industry! One study found that, during the five-year period from 2007 to 2012, broken iPhone screens cost US$ 5.9 billion to consumers in the USA alone.
It appears that the solution has been found lately. Sapphire has traditional military uses in armored vehicles as “glass windows” to protect from being shattered during artillery vibration. The material has long been used as dial screens for premium watches like Rolex and Patek Philippe. However, using this material as a screen is a completely new idea in the smartphone industry. To the contrary, industry experts cautioned that cost could be a limiting factor, unless consumers ignore the increase in cost due to novelty and value. It is speculated that since Apple has already invested over US$500 million in a tech company to produce synthetic Sapphire (first time in smartphone industry), it would probably be able to streamline its manufacturing process to make cost-efficient Sapphire screens.
In order to give an idea of how strong Sapphire could be, one could look at the Mohs scale for comparison. Mohs scale is a measurement to indicate “hardness” of materials. While a pencil lead (Graphite) has a Mohs rating of 1.5, the hardest material (Diamond) stands at 10. The Mohs rating of Sapphire is 9, just before the Diamond. Even the hardened steel has a lower Mohs rating than Sapphire.