Numerous leaks have already detailed Apple’s plans to use strong sapphire glass displays on its 2014 iPhone models, although the company is yet to confirm any of them. However, AppleInsider has discovered three patent applications filed in early 2013 that prove Apple is really exploring ways of increasing the durability of its iPhones, with the patents describing means of reinforcing sapphire glass for front and back panels. They also describe a means of using sapphire glass for other iPhone components and “implanting” product details within sapphire glass covers.
A patent application titled “Sapphire Component with Residual Compressive Stress” details means through which sapphire glass can be reinforced in certain areas in order to improve durability. Thus, a selected region of a sapphire front or back panel, including corners, edges or the center of the glass can be reinforced in order to better withstand shocks.
The second patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is called “Ceramic Insert Control Mechanism” and describes ways of creating buttons and/or covers out of sapphire glass for various iPhone components, including the home button, camera or volume rockers. Additionally, the patent describes way of transmitting LED lights that could illuminate a sapphire component.
The third patent application, called “Ion Implant Indicia for Cover Glass or Display Component” details means through which product details, aka indicia, are embedded within sapphire glass, with help of ion implantation. Different ions, including chromium, titanium or iron, can be used to generate different indicia colors, and would be implanted in sapphire glass with by being accelerated in an electric field.
The patents, available at the source links below, contain clear iPhone drawings, suggesting Apple is studying these particular technologies for its most important product. However, each patent application also includes clear tablet references, and even iPad images which suggest sapphire glass, or sapphire-made components may be heading to future iPad generations.