Apple has used sapphire in the past, namely to protect the camera lens on the iPhone from getting scratched. They have also introduced the use sapphire in the iPhone 5s to protect the Touch ID sensor, but according to recent rumors, Apple has bigger plans for sapphire in the next-gen iPhone, with some suggesting it could be used in the iPhone 6’s display. Well whatever Apple’s plans for sapphire are, word on the street is that Apple has recently begun shipping sapphire from their supplier in the U.S. to their manufacturers in China.
Sapphire bound for future Apple products has begun shipping from a supplier’s Arizona-based factory, according to UBS Securities. “Checks find [GT Advanced Technologies’] Arizona factory likely [started] producing sapphire last month. Our own checks found that for the first time GT shipped some small quantities of sapphire made in its Arizona fab to one of Apple’s partners in China who is in charge of making sapphire covers,” UBS Securities’ Stephen Chin wrote in a research note released Wednesday, as reported by 9to5Mac. Apple signed a deal with GT Advanced Technologies back in November. That deal stipulated that Apple provide GT with $578 million in prepayments “at an Apple facility in Arizona.” GT owns and operates the furnaces that produce the sapphire.