The Sapphire glass Apple uses — and is rumored to use much more of with new handsets — is partly thanks to GT Advanced Technologies. They’ve recently announced their financial results for the second quarter, noting an $86 million loss as they pivot operations to align themselves with Apple. As the reliance on Sapphire increases, that big loss may be a distant memory in the near future.
Part of this restructuring has to do with that Arizona facility Apple announced they’d be opening. Their partner for that plant? You guessed it. In discussing the future, GT had the following to say:
The build-out of our Arizona facility, which has involved taking a 1.4 million square foot facility from a shell to a functional structure as well as the installation of sapphire growth and fabrication equipment, is nearly complete and we are commencing the transition to volume production. We remain confident about the long-term potential of the sapphire materials business for GT.
Apple has used Sapphire in limited quantities since the iPhone 5. Covering the camera and TouchID are one thing, but newer iPhones are said to have the entire display protected with Sapphire glass. Lending credence to that is GT’s involvement, and financial reliance on Apple right now. In the earnings statement, they said certain criteria — which they expect to meet — would lead to Apple making the final $139 million investment in their company.
This might not have anything to do with the 4.7-inch iPhone 6, where we’ve already (allegedly) seen the display. For future devices, like the largest iPhone or iWatch, this factory could be up and running just in time.