There may soon be more than one sapphire smartphone on the market.
The iPhone 6 by Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: APPL) is rumored to feature a sapphire display, but Japanese manufacturer Kyocera Corp. (NYSE: KYO) announced last Thursday plans to release its own smartphone with a sapphire display.
Kyocera is known for making rugged phones that can withstand nasty drops and various elements like water and dust, but their devices are not consumer favorites. Still, the company has put its new product, called Kyocera Sapphire Shield, up against the rumored sapphire display for the iPhone 6 in a teaser video.
“From the industry leader in durable smartphones, comes a truly affordable, pure sapphire display,” Kyocera says in the video.
Though neither the iPhone 6 nor its sapphire display have been confirmed, Kyocera is not the only company attempting to get its product in the spotlight by comparing it to Apple’s.
Last week Gorilla Glass-maker Corning Inc. (NYSE: GLW) shared a video comparing the strength of Gorilla Glass to that of sapphire glass to demonstrate its product is superior. According to the video, after withstanding the equivalent of everyday wear and tear, sapphire glass breaks after being put under 161 pounds of pressure while Gorilla Glass can withstand more than 430 pounds -- or 2.5 times the weight that sapphire glass can handle -- without breaking.
Another video has also surfaced comparing the strength of a standard impact resistant glass to Kyocera sapphire, which shows the glass scratching and breaking under pressure while the sapphire screen remains intact.
Recent reports indicate the sapphire glass for the iPhone 6 might not be made of pure sapphire. Another video demonstrates a scratch test on a supposedly leaked iPhone 6 display panel. The panel, which previously held up against scratching with a knife and keys, ultimately succumbed to scratches by garnet and emery sandpaper. Sapphire, which is one of the hardest minerals in existence, is too hard to be scratched by sandpaper in its purest form, leading YouTube content creator Marques Brownlee to conclude the display panel may be made of some a sapphire laminate, a blend or sapphire with a different material or another form of sapphire.
One reason Apple may use a sapphire blend is that production of pure sapphire is very expensive. According to tech website Phandroid, sapphire display panels were worth between $20 and $30 each in 2013, while Gorilla Glass panels cost less than $3. Apple has used Gorilla Glass for the displays on its previous smartphones. Due to production costs and supply issues, some analysts project an iPhone with a sapphire display could be a limited release product with a hefty price tag.
Kyocera has only indicated its Sapphire Shield is “coming soon.” No further details have been revealed.