Apple has been recently rumored to run a trial production of iPhone models that have sapphire glass displays, but there may be another reason the company is interested in such panels for future devices, aside from increasing the durability of the screen. At a time when the competition is offering wireless charging batteries and developing new means to make the technology more user-friendly, Apple may be working on a totally different kind of wireless battery charging for the next iPhones.
One analyst from Seeking Alpha believes he has found evidence that sapphire glass will actually include tiny solar panels that would help you charge iPhone batteries by simply using the power of the sun. Matt Margolis says the iPhone 6 and the 2014 iPod touch (if there will be one) may come with a display capable of increasing battery life.
Margolis’ extensive analysis of Apple’s recent actions shows that the company has a variety of patents on solar charging capabilities for computer and mobile devices that have been discovered last year, describing ways of charging a laptop, smartphone or tablet battery through solar cells. The analysts also reminds us that Apple has recently posted job ads looking for a Thin Films Engineer with solar experience (in September 2013), as well as Manufacturing Design Engineers (in January 2014) who may help with building mobile device components, a job that may also include responsibilities such as using lasers to add solar cells in sapphire glass. Both positions are related to Apple’s mobile business.
Furthermore, in early November 2013 the company revealed it signed a $578 million contract with GT Advanced Technologies for sapphire cover displays and announced later that month that it will spend $10.5 billion in capital during fiscal year 2014 for various technologies including cutting edge lasers that may be used to place those tiny solar cells in sapphire glass.
The company is also believed to have placed a $68 million order with German company Manz AG for solar cell coating equipment – the German company announced the order on January 15, identifying the buyer as a “leading smartphones manufacturer,” a hint that Apple may be involved in the purchase of “innovative vacuum coating systems” and “laser process technology,” which would be needed for producing solar-charging sapphire glass.
From a different point of view, Apple will use solar energy in its new headquarters in Cupertino, another piece of evidence that suggests the company is indeed exploring ways to make more use of solar power, including bringing the technology to some of its products.
Obviously, there isn’t any confirmation from Apple regarding any sapphire-related plans for the iPhone 6 at this time. In an interview last week, Tim Cook did confirm that the Arizona investment is related to sapphire glass without expanding on the matter.