It's no secret that Apple is building up a stockpile of sapphire glass for its future products, but a mystery lingers about what exactly those products will be. This week, a pair of videos presented one potential scenario in the form of a 4.7-inch sapphire display that could be used on the iPhone 6. Though the authenticity of this display panel as an Apple part is impossible to verify, it has now been lent credence by a university professor who the Cupertino company has previously consulted. Professor Neil Alford of Imperial College London tells The Guardian that he'd discussed sapphire displays with Apple 18 months ago and believes that the screen in the present videos "could well be" legitimate.
Following in Vertu's footsteps?
The original panel was obtained by Apple sleuth Sonny Dickson, who then provided it to Marques Brownlee, the author of the exhaustive test video above. The crystal-clear display is bent and scratched to extremes, but survives the onslaught unscathed. Subsequent to posting the video, Brownlee has expressed to The Guardian his belief that the screen is "100% an Apple part," which Professor Alford supports by noting that its material behaved the way he would expect a sapphire display would.
While sapphire is incredibly durable and scratch-resistant, its hardness also makes it expensive to manufacture and fashion into the proper shape. Even so, Vertu has already set a precedent of using sapphire screens in its luxury phones, with the most recent Signature Touch having the same 4.7-inch size as this purported iPhone 6 display. Apple's approach could well be to only add a thin laminated layer of sapphire to the outside of the display assembly, which it is already doing on a smaller scale with the Touch ID buttons and camera lenses in its current smartphones.