Due to potential extended use in smartphones, prices for sapphire are expected to increase 10-15% in the first or second quarter of 2014, Taiwan-based makers cited Russia-based sapphire maker Monocrystal as indicating. Sapphire growth systems are used by LED companies for the production of LED cores and LED wafers.
Following use to make covers for smartphone rear cameras and the iPhone 5s Home key, sapphire is likely to be further used to make screen cover glass, the sources said. However, cost will be key to further applications, the sources noted. For a 4-inch smartphone screen, cover glass made from Corning-developed Gorilla glass costs about US$3, and one made from sapphire will cost about US$30, the sources indicated. To be feasible, sapphire smartphone screens should drop to US$10-15, the sources said.
Monocrystal currently has a monthly production capacity of 1.5-2.0 million millimeters of sapphire ingots, the sources said. South Korea-based Sapphire Technology Company will expand production capacity and may become a main supplier for smartphone vendors Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics, the sources indicated.