Hall notes that GT Advanced Technologies has acquired Twin Creeks, a company that uses a wafering process called 'Hyperion' that could significantly reduce the cost of building a sapphire screen cover. Apple also has filed its own patents on sapphire laminates that could reduce costs.
In the report, received by AppleInsider, Hall estimated that producing the sapphire displays currently costs about 10 times more than using Corning's Gorilla Glass. The higher cost is because the Hyperion ion implantation process is apparently not ready for mass production.
While Hall said it's possible that Apple this year could produce a line of expensive high-end iPhone models with sapphire displays in limited quantities — something the Journal suggested Apple might do — the analyst doesn't expect that to be the case for 2014.
"Although we have channel indications that some sapphire devices will be produced, we actually lean toward Apple selling no sapphire phones this year," Hall wrote.
"On sapphire as a feature — we see it as a huge phone seller. The screens are reportedly unscratchable (except by diamond) and virtually indestructible. We believe most people will want sapphire when and if it ever becomes available."
Last week, the WSJ reported that Apple may use sapphire screens in the high-end models of its two new iPhone 6 smartphones, if it can get enough. Earlier this month, GT Advanced announced that it's 'commencing the transition to volume production' of sapphire for Apple, in their results for Second Quarter Fiscal Year 2014.
Notably, we've also seen leaked front covers alleged for the iPhone 6 that are much stronger than the ones available on current devices. Check out a video here.
We'll find out if any of the iPhone 6 models features sapphire on September 9th, the rumored date for Apple's event to unveil its next generation smartphone.
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