GT Advanced Technologies’ unexpected Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing might spell trouble for Apple’s iPhone-related sapphire plans, KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note to customers seen by AppleInsider. The analyst, who accurately predicted many details about unreleased Apple products in the past, says GTAT’s problems won’t affect Apple’s Apple Watch production plans, but that they may impact Apple’s future iPhone production plans.
According to Kuo, Apple chose GTAT for its superior drop test performance for smartphone-size display covers, and wanted the company to supply iPhone glass covers at some point in the future.
“While GTAT’s ASF sapphire isn’t the only sapphire ingot source for iPhone sapphire cover lens that is being tested by Apple, we don’t think Apple will turn to other suppliers given the notionally superior drop-test performance of GTAT’s sapphire ingot,” Kuo writes. “We believe Apple is still very interested in using sapphire as a material for iPhone cover lens.”
Because Apple Watch displays are significantly smaller than iPhone displays, and therefore less prone to screen damage following accidental drops, Apple is expected to source sapphire covers from other companies that have less advanced sapphire production processes, including Hansol and Harbin Aurora Optoelectronics.