Apple probably isn’t making an iPhone with a sapphire display anytime soon, especially given the surprising bankruptcy of its former sapphire manufacturing partner, GT Advanced Technologies. But even if Apple had the capability to mass produce a sapphire display iPhone, would it be wise to do so? DisplayMate president Ray Soneira argues that it would not be simply because sapphire displays give off too much glare to really deliver the kind of experience Apple is looking for.
Essentially, Soneira notes that sapphire has very high reflectance compared with Corning’s Gorilla Glass and he says that applying the same anti-reflection coating that it applied to the iPad Air 2’s display would hurt the sapphire display’s scratch resistance.
“Presumably Apple’s future products will have the same anti-reflection coatings as well,” he explains. “So forget about Sapphire on future iPhones because if you apply an anti-reflection coating to Sapphire, which has a very high 8% reflectance all by itself, you lose its very high scratch resistance because the softer coating is now on top.”
Or put another way, using anti-reflection coating on a sapphire display would take away the major reason to use sapphire in the first place, thus rendering it pointless.
We’re not sure if Apple specifically encountered these sorts of issues during its attempts to manufacture the iPhone 6 but it does seem like the company found mass producing large sapphire displays to be much harder than anticipated. Barring some new breakthrough over the next couple of years, you probably shouldn’t expect an iPhone 7 with a sapphire display either.