Apple to Release iPhone 6 With Sapphire Glass Solar Power Panel in 2014? [Analyst]

Posted January 28, 2014 at 10:52pm by iClarified | Please help us and submit a translation by clicking here | 45126 views

A new report suggests that Apple not only plans to use sapphire glass for the iPhone 6 but that the sapphire glass will also function as a solar charging panel for the device.

On Seeking Alpha, Matt Margolis details the evidence for what could be a ground breaking new feature.

In February 2013, Apple filed a patent for an integrated touch sensor and solar assembly. The patent reads:

Integrated touch sensor and solar panel configurations that may be used on portable devices, particularly handheld portable devices such as a media player or phone are disclosed. The integrated touch sensor array and solar cell stack-ups may include electrodes that are used both for collecting solar energy and for sensing on a touch sensor array. By integrating both the touch sensors and the solar cell layers into the same stack-up, surface area on the portable device may be conserved. In addition to being used for capacitive sensing, the integrated touch sensor and solar panel configurations may also be used for optical sensing.

Margolis notes that the invention outlined required a "boost converter" that would allow the solar cell to convert its energy directly into the device's battery. Unfortunately, the "boost converter" would likely take up too much space to be put inside the iPhone.

In September 2013, Apple posted a job opening for a "Thin Films Engineer" who had extensive experience with thin-film technologies in either semiconductor processing or solar industries.

Then in October 31, 2013, Apple was granted a new solar touch screen patent that would allow Apple to power a device, without the need of a "boost converter". This patent was a significant improvement on the February 2013 patent. Apple actually states that "the electronic devices that will be able to take advantage of Apple's new solar panel include a MacBook, iPad, iPod touch and iPhone."

In November 2013, a partnership was announced with GT Advanced Technologies to open a Sapphire Materials facility in Mesa, AZ. Last week Apple began posting jobs openings for the Mesa location. Margolis took a closer look at the focus areas of those jobs and found that one focus area was on Physical Vapor Deposition. PVD is a method to deposit thin films by the condensation of a vaporized form of material onto surfaces. Another focus area was glass scribing. Margolis did some sleuthing and discovered that scribing is a process used to place ultra-thin film solar cells onto glass. Additionally, he learned that ultra thin film solar cells are typically "scribed" onto glass via expensive lasers.

Apple's recent hiring of a Thin Film Engineer and Manufacturing Design Engineer coincides perfectly with the idea that the company could be planning to scribe solar cells onto the sapphire glass panel for the iPhone 6. However, Margolis is able to take his theory one step further. A company called Manz AG out of Germany just announced a $50m EUR ($68m USD) order in its display division for solar cell coating equipment. The innovative coating technology was developed in close cooperation with a "leading smartphones manufacturer" and the purchased technology includes "innovative vacuum coating systems" as well as "laser process technology." Notably, Manz AG says the technology developed "offers excellent prospects for follow-up orders and corresponding high future revenue potential."

Margolis suggests that Apple plans to use the solar cell coating equipment ordered from Manz AG to scribe solar cells onto sapphire glass screens for its new iPhone. He offers the following checklist.

Fact Checklist
● Apple filed solar patents that will allow them to power their electronic devices directly through solar cells.
● Apple posted and filled a Thin Films Engineer position with solar experience.
● Apple signed a $578m contract with GT Advanced Technologies to provide sapphire materials (sapphire cover screens)
● Apple announced they would be spending $10.5B in capital during fiscal year 2014 including cutting edge lasers.
● Apple recently posted a Manufacturing Design Engineer position that includes "scribing" and "PVD coating" which relate to thin films (solar cells) and lasers.
● Over 100 iPhones have been assembled with sapphire covered displays.

What do you think? Is there enough evidence here to predict what Apple has up its sleeve? Is a sapphire glass solar powered iPhone 6 on the way? Let us know in the comments.

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Wx34 - March 10, 2014 at 10:26am
I see some dumb coments in here ... Whf is wrong with you guys ... This is a great idea and for sure these days everyone have their phone on their hands most of the day and not in their pockets... You walk into a restaurant and 95% of people have their phones on the table ... And how many people outthere want to buy a case cover with a solar panel when the phone could have one built in... Do you realy want to make ur phone look stupid with that long ass cover just to have a longer battery life...?? I think this is a great idea.... So for all of you that think negative then you should sell ur iphones and not read about them .... Just go and buy a stupid samsung.
K - March 10, 2014 at 1:39pm
Than you. Be on the look for Tony or should I say phony. Every chart post galaxy post or iPhone documentary he's always gimmicking iPhone like he knows shit then like an endless cycle, he gets told off hard then tries again on another post. He hasn't been here for so long but still.
A.Kutcher - January 31, 2014 at 3:42am
The real money maker would be a phone that charges with movement like when you walk or pick up your phone.... I know they have watches like that but.... I'm not sure how much power that would provide the phone. Still I would buy that shit. Also if apple comes out with this, I'm suing them.
K - January 31, 2014 at 4:02am
What part of suing, your idea or the solar power?
Treated like a Criminal - January 30, 2014 at 11:14pm
Great idea, however useless if you have a phone case, unless the phone case already has built-in solar panel.
K - January 31, 2014 at 2:25am
Cut the case open ;)
yaclexx - January 31, 2014 at 3:57pm
I think the idea of a touch screen solar panel is to charge the phone using the touch screen itself. Unless you are using a case that covers the iPhone screen, you shouldn't have any problem.
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