Skip to main content

This is why the iPhone 6 doesn't have a sapphire screen

This is why the iPhone 6 doesn't have a sapphire screen

/

The inside story of the billion-dollar bet that didn't pay off

Share this story

The iPhone 6 was supposed to have a sapphire display. More than a year ago, Apple turned to GT Advanced Technologies, the now-bankrupt supplier, to solve its longstanding problems with scratched and cracked displays. But as soon as the two companies signed an agreement, their relationship became riddled with complications. In the ensuing year, as chronicled in detail by The Wall Street Journal, everything shifted. Apple originally wanted to buy furnaces with which to make sapphire itself, before changing its mind and deciding to simply buy the produced sapphire from GT. But GT couldn't make sapphire at the volume and quantity Apple wanted, and the relationship splintered over and over until it broke.

The Journal's story is full of remarkable details, like the almost-loss of 500 sapphire bricks worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Or the 700 people GT hired as a result of the project, many of whom wound up with nothing to do at all. It's also full of what should have been obvious red flags, like the fact that three days before GT signed its deal with Apple, it produced 578 pounds of sapphire — and not one ounce was usable.

But it's fundamentally a story about the power, and the danger, that comes from working with Apple. Tim Cook and his team in Cupertino demand high quality and low prices, which make it a difficult partner to work with profitably. The prospect of making massive amounts of sapphire for the world's most valuable technology company was too hard for GT to pass up, even though its inexperience and inability to scale ultimately cost the company much more than the nearly $1 billion that was invested in the project. Apple and GT worked together to help GT stay financially solvent, but it was too late; GT filed for bankruptcy barely two weeks after the iPhone 6 was released — without a sapphire screen. In bankruptcy court, the two companies blamed each other for the failure. In truth, it seems clear both partners are to blame.

Sapphire screens are an obvious, tested improvement over the materials used in smartphone displays around the world. But if GT's story is any indication, not even Apple can find an easy way to make one of the hardest materials on earth.

Today’s Storystream

Feed refreshed Sep 24 Striking out

E
External Link
Emma RothSep 24
California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoes the state’s “BitLicense” law.

The bill, called the Digital Financial Assets Law, would establish a regulatory framework for companies that transact with cryptocurrency in the state, similar to New York’s BitLicense system. In a statement, Newsom says it’s “premature to lock a licensing structure” and that implementing such a program is a “costly undertaking:”

A more flexible approach is needed to ensure regulatory oversight can keep up with rapidly evolving technology and use cases, and is tailored with the proper tools to address trends and mitigate consumer harm.


A
Youtube
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Look at this Thing.

At its Tudum event today, Netflix showed off a new clip from the Tim Burton series Wednesday, which focused on a very important character: the sentient hand known as Thing. The full series starts streaming on November 23rd.


A
The Verge
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Get ready for some Netflix news.

At 1PM ET today Netflix is streaming its second annual Tudum event, where you can expect to hear news about and see trailers from its biggest franchises, including The Witcher and Bridgerton. I’ll be covering the event live alongside my colleague Charles Pulliam-Moore, and you can also watch along at the link below. There will be lots of expected names during the stream, but I have my fingers crossed for a new season of Hemlock Grove.


A
Andrew WebsterSep 24
Looking for something to do this weekend?

Why not hang out on the couch playing video games and watching TV. It’s a good time for it, with intriguing recent releases like Return to Monkey Island, Session: Skate Sim, and the Star Wars spinoff Andor. Or you could check out some of the new anime on Netflix, including Thermae Romae Novae (pictured below), which is my personal favorite time-traveling story about bathing.


A screenshot from the Netflix anime Thermae Romae Novae.
Thermae Romae Novae.
Image: Netflix
J
Twitter
Jay PetersSep 23
Twitch’s creators SVP is leaving the company.

Constance Knight, Twitch’s senior vice president of global creators, is leaving for a new opportunity, according to Bloomberg’s Cecilia D’Anastasio. Knight shared her departure with staff on the same day Twitch announced impending cuts to how much its biggest streamers will earn from subscriptions.


T
Twitter
Tom WarrenSep 23
Has the Windows 11 2022 Update made your gaming PC stutter?

Nvidia GPU owners have been complaining of stuttering and poor frame rates with the latest Windows 11 update, but thankfully there’s a fix. Nvidia has identified an issue with its GeForce Experience overlay and the Windows 11 2022 Update (22H2). A fix is available in beta from Nvidia’s website.


A
External Link
If you’re using crash detection on the iPhone 14, invest in a really good phone mount.

Motorcycle owner Douglas Sonders has a cautionary tale in Jalopnik today about the iPhone 14’s new crash detection feature. He was riding his LiveWire One motorcycle down the West Side Highway at about 60 mph when he hit a bump, causing his iPhone 14 Pro Max to fly off its handlebar mount. Soon after, his girlfriend and parents received text messages that he had been in a horrible accident, causing several hours of panic. The phone even called the police, all because it fell off the handlebars. All thanks to crash detection.

Riding a motorcycle is very dangerous, and the last thing anyone needs is to think their loved one was in a horrible crash when they weren’t. This is obviously an edge case, but it makes me wonder what other sort of false positives we see as more phones adopt this technology.


A
External Link
Ford is running out of its own Blue Oval badges.

Running out of semiconductors is one thing, but running out of your own iconic nameplates is just downright brutal. The Wall Street Journal reports badge and nameplate shortages are impacting the automaker's popular F-series pickup lineup, delaying deliveries and causing general chaos.

Some executives are even proposing a 3D printing workaround, but they didn’t feel like the substitutes would clear the bar. All in all, it's been a dreadful summer of supply chain setbacks for Ford, leading the company to reorganize its org chart to bring some sort of relief.