Apple has been using sapphire on its iPhone camera lenses for a few years now since the launch of the iPhone 5S, but it might not be as scratch resistant as you'd expect. A new video raises questions over Apple's use of sapphire in its iPhone camera lens, and includes scratch tests to rate its durability. While Apple claims it uses sapphire crystal in its iPhone lens, tests by YouTuber JerryRigEverything show that Apple could be using a more cost effective sapphire laminate on top of regular glass.
JerryRigEverything tested Apple's iPhone lens with an XRF machine and electron microscope, and concluded that Apple doesn't use pure sapphire in its lenses. The underside of the lens contains less sapphire than the exposed part, and a scratching comparison with a Tissot sapphire watch showed that the lens cover will scratch at a level 6 on Mohs Scale of Hardness, compared to level 8 for the Tissot watch.
An Apple Watch Stainless Steel edition with a sapphire display hasn't been tested in the video, but it raises the question of whether Apple could be using a similar weak mix of glass and sapphire in its watch. "How impure can your sapphire be, and still call it sapphire?" asks JerryRigEverything, before concluding that the lens is still scratch resistant, but not as scratch resistant as we all thought it would be. The Verge has reached out to Apple to comment on its use of sapphire, and we'll update you accordingly.
Update October 5th, 1PM ET: Apple has confirmed to The Verge that the company uses sapphire in its iPhone camera lens. It appears the correct testing conditions weren't adhered to in JerryRigEverything's tests. "Apple confirms the iPhone 7 camera lens is sapphire, and under proper testing conditions achieves the hardness and purity results expected from sapphire," says an Apple spokesperson.