Is sapphire Apple's next product material?

A new patent filing indicates that the company is thinking seriously about how sapphire might be used to build consumer electronics.

Apple

Sapphire has found its way to the iPhone 5S via Apple's Touch ID technology, but a recent patent filing indicates the company might bring the stone to more devices.

The US Patent and Trademark Office on Thursday published an Apple patent application describing a method by which sapphire could be used to build a consumer electronics device. AppleInsider earlier reported on the application.

Apple integrated sapphire -- the second-hardest stone in the world after diamond -- into both the iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S. The company used sapphire to protect the iPhone 5's rear lens, and sapphire has also been integrated into the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 5S.

Apple's patent application, however, describes how sapphire could be used as the central design element in a device. The sapphire might also be integrated with glass.

Apple regularly uses different materials to build products. As of late, the company has been using mostly aluminum and glass but has also designed products with plastic. Aluminum and glass have been the featured materials for quite some time, which could mean Apple is thinking about transitioning to another material. Judging by the patent application, sapphire could be next up.

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About the author

Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.

 

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