June 27, 2014
Sapphire and LiquidMetal Display Likely for iPhone 6
Signs continue to point to Apple pursuing a sapphire screen for the iPhone 6, along with a patented use of LiquidMetal, an exotic amorphous metal alloy, in a fused bezel protecting the phone’s predicted larger screen. (Above photo via http://9to5mac.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/apple-iphone-6-concept.png?w=704&h=352.)
Regarding the iPhone screen size, as we discussed in last month’s roundup of iPhone 6 rumors:
“...the iPhone 6 will also allegedly be increasing screen resolution, possibly at 1704 x 906, a pixel-tripled resolution. This would mean a 4.7 inch model would have a pixel density of 416, the 5.5-inch version a pixel density of 365. It’s likely this high resolution screen will be a durable sapphire display. Rumors also paint a picture of a thinner iPhone for 2014, one that slims the 5’s 7.6mm thickness down to 6 to 7mm. To match the thinness of the iPhone itself, a thinner chassis and bezels are also predicted.”
According to Forbes, Apple is successfully pursuing ways to seamlessly embed the glass screen - or, more accurately, sapphire screen - within LiquidMetal bezels. Forbes’ contributor Anthony Wing Kosner writes, “[...]Apple has been ramping up sapphire production through its partner GT Advanced Technologies GTAT +2.3% and 9to5Mac reports that sapphire ingots from GTAT have started shipping to one of Apple’s Chinese manufacturing partners.” It’s also reported that Apple renewed its contract to utilize LiquidMetal for consumer products until 2016.
AppleInsider explains that, until now, LiquidMetal has been considered an exotic material, used for little else aside from a SIM card ejector tool. The material is classified as a bulk amorphous alloy. The “little else” consisted of some medical equipment, sporting goods, and military applications back in 2003.
“Instead of plastic, the material traditionally associated with injection molding, the patent uses metal in liquid form. Chief among alloy candidates is LiquidMetal, which behaves like a plastic and carries thermal properties advantageous to the MIM process. In some cases the thermal properties of select glass and metal materials can be matched to aid in production.”
According to Digital Trends, the LiquidMetal will be used in Apple’s patented process to help stabilize the sapphire screen and protect it against drops. In its current phones, Apple uses plastic gaskets and a rubberized bezel to protect the iPhone’s screen from the inevitable tumble. Apple could go on using plastic, but the goal with LiquidMetal is likely a stronger bond between the screen and device, and therefore a more durable structure. This could be a key aspect in helping the company achieve a larger iPhone 6 size without destabilizing the screen.
Nothing is for sure until the Apple iPhone 6 is officially revealed, but that’s never stopped the rumor mill. When that day comes though, we'll be ready with iPhone 6 cases. Read more about Apple’s screen and LiquidMetal patent on, DigitalTrends, AppleInsider, and Forbes.
Written by Mary Yajko. She is a copywriter and member of Team Grove originally from upstate New York. She enjoys opened minds, uncontrollable fits of laughter, and large amounts of french fries with ketchup.