It's no secret now that Apple's iPhone 6 is rumored to come with a resilient and durable synthetic sapphire glass screen, though Apple may not be the only one to release a scratch- and shatter-resistant phone. Thanks to Kyocera's work on what is being branded as Sapphire Shield, various other Android OEMs may be able to source synthetic sapphire glass for their phone's screen as well.
Kyocera's Sapphire Shield announcement comes just about a week after there were speculations that the company has been testing synthetic sapphire panels.
In the past, the cost of manufacturing of sapphire had been too high for use on smartphones. It's unclear what breakthroughs Kyocera may have achieved to mass produce synthetic sapphire for phone use and if Sapphire Shield, which is described as "coming soon," will be available in large enough quantities to satisfy Android manufacturers like Samsung, Sony, HTC, LG, and others.
If Kyocera is successful in this latest trend, it could potentially displace Corning, which had built a name for itself thanks to the use of Gorilla Glass on smartphones.
In addition to smartphones, Kyocera's Sapphire Shield could also be employed on wearables like smartwatches. Sapphire is already being used on luxury watches and on luxury phones like Vertu's devices so this would be a natural extension.
As a material, sapphire is known for its toughness, only beaten by diamond in the natural world. However, because of the chemical properties of naturally occurring sapphire, most sapphire crystals and gems have a blue tint or hue. In the lab, synthetic sapphire is created without those chemicals that contribute to the color, resulting in a clear substance, which would be suitable for clear screens that protect the LCD or AMOLED displays on today's smartphones.
A leaked video claiming to show off what is believed to be the sapphire glass used on Apple's iPhone 6 shows that the device is virtually break-proof and scratch-proof. The sapphire panel was twisted and doesn't break or shatter, even when torsion force was applied.