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A new video has been posted to YouTube that shows popular video host Marques Brownlee trying to scratch a sapphire panel, which is expected to feature in the expected iPhone 6 later this year.
He first tried to damage it with a knife, before switching to keys, and then trying to bend and break it. The screen remained unscathed.
As Brownlee mentions in the video, this is only the front panel and not actually attached to a final device so is unable to drop test it. The initial results seem promising though and may see iPhone owners become less reliant on screen protectors.
Sapphire is a synthetic, resilient material made of crystallizing aluminum oxide. The material is produced at high temperatures where it forms disks that can be sliced using diamond-coated saws. The disks are then ground into shape and polished to create glass.
Apple already uses sapphire in its Touch ID and to protect the camera. It’s now expected that the main screen will also receive this protection.
This panel leak also supports previous rumors that the next iPhone will have a 4.7-inch screen and have a much thinner profile. The sapphire panel is slimmer than its glass counterpart used in previous iPhone devices and may help to shave off a few millimeters in the thickness of the next device.
Brownlee also notes that the possible front panel is extremely translucent and doesn’t seem to affect colors.
To be able to make enough sapphire panels Apple previously invested $96 million in GT Advanced Technologies which has gone on to open two factories. These are based in Arizona and Massachusetts and have begun shipping screens to China for final assembly.