Sapphire Squabble: Analysts Argue Over Scope of Apple’s Ambitions

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With the expected debut of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) next-generation iPhone only about two months away, there is still plenty of debate over what features and components will be included in the so-called iPhone 6. Perhaps the only iPhone 6 rumor that is not widely disputed is the expectation that Apple will unveil two models with larger screen sizes of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches. The screen size upgrades have been reported by multiple media outlets and several leaked images of display components for both screen sizes appear to confirm this rumor. Most industry watchers are treating the rumor about the devices’ increased screen sizes as a confirmed fact, as well as the expectation that Apple will include typical incremental hardware upgrades, such as the next-generation A8 processor.

Excluding rumors about screen sizes or usual hardware upgrades, it seems that most of the other rumors about the iPhone 6 are still up for debate, including everything from the launch dates to the possible inclusion of Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. However, when it comes to speculation about the iPhone 6, the rumors related to Apple’s sapphire plans may have the least amount of consensus among industry watchers.

Sapphire is an extremely hard and scratch-resistant material that Apple currently uses as a protective covering for the Touch ID fingerprint scanner and the iPhone’s camera lens. However, it appears that Apple is planning on greatly expanding its use of this material. Last year, GT Advanced Technologies (NASDAQ:GTAT) revealed in its quarterly earnings report that the iPhone maker had made a $578 million investment in a sapphire manufacturing facility that it runs in Arizona. More recently, an amended 10-Q filing that GT Advanced Technologies made last month revealed that the company had also dedicated a second plant located in Salem, Massachusetts, to manufacturing sapphire for Apple.

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