Kyocera to push the bar in smartphone durability with sapphire displays [VIDEO]

If Apple was planning on making people believe they were the first to use sapphire in smartphone displays for a more durable screen, Kyocera has made it a point to spoil those plans. The Japanese¬†company has put out a video directly targeted at all the iPhone 6 rumors tipping the tech world off to Apple’s plans to use the displays.

They counter the rumors by saying that they have been doing this a lot longer than Apple has, with 41 years of experience using sapphire in everything from computer components to watch faces. And now they’re planning to beat Apple to the punch in smartphone displays.

They’re calling it the “Sapphire Shield,” and if you know anything about sapphire you’d know that it’s supposed to be virtually indestructible. Coins and keys wouldn’t be able to make scratches and dents, and it would come out looking like a champ if it were dropped flat on its face onto a slab of concrete. Sapphire is said to be used as transparent armor for many military vehicles, and if it’s good enough for a soldier it should be more than good enough for your smartphone.

kyocera sapphire shield

The problem with sapphire is that it’s expensive — a lot more expensive than tempered glass like Corning’s Gorilla Glass being used in so many smartphones. It was only last year that sapphire displays were going for $20 to $30 a pop, whereas Gorilla Glass can be had for under $3 per unit. Kyocera says they have found a way to make sapphire-based displays affordable, though, and that we’ll be hearing something very soon from their camp.

As much as we make fun of Kyocera’s phones for being underwhelming and uninspiring, one thing we can say they’ve always done well is durable smartphones. This is a natural step forward for them, and hopefully it can be used as a barometer for other OEMs to get in line and compete — we sure wouldn’t mind a future with fully indestructible displays.

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  • Brian Clary

    Chinese? I thought Kyocera was Japanese.

  • MG83

    These are the clowns who made that phone that looks like a tanning bed for Sprint… pass.

    • No_Nickname90

      These are the innovators… They were testing waters. I like that, not the phone, but the water testing.

      I’ll just let others be my human guinea pigs.

  • Mark Wheeler

    I’ve never even heard of this company lol. Do our big 4 carriers in U.S. Even stock their phones..?

    • Tony Lai

      Yes, but they are not popular, duh.

    • No_Nickname90

      I’ve heard of them. I had a flip phone by them when I was on Cricket back in 2007. They also made that dual screen phone on Sprint, the Kyocera Echo. You may remember them now after thinking about that phone.

    • J Cav the Great

      This was my first phone on VirginMobile back in 2005 ..Kyocera Switchback.

      • idongacha

        One of my last before the g1 came out.

      • Durin123

        Damn, that phone is ugly.

    • http://twitter.com/Vanakatherock Vanakatherock

      Yes. Sprint’s line of dedicated PTT phones is made by Kyocera. The Kyocera Torque PTT smartphone on Sprint is very nice. If it had a larger screen, I would have been interested in it. The speaker is very loud & clear and it is very rugged. Screen, of course, isn’t scratch resistant.

      They also have a Kyocera Hydro Elite on Verizon, a waterproof phone.

    • Terry

      You must be young if you have never heard of them.

      • Mark Wheeler

        33 actually but I think the actual thing is I never really cared much about phones, I got my first cell phone in 2006 it was a RAZR and I just hung on to it and didn’t pay much attention to other phones until 2009 when I got an iPhone 3G after that was when I started getting into tech and paying attention to different phones.

        Since I made that post earlier I took time to educate myself on them a little more and good on them for getting some media attention out of this.

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    They are Japanese. They make all kinds of electronics including not so high end phones, mostly waterproof built tough. They make copiers, printers among other things.

  • Jody Schoolcraft

    “If Apple was planning on making people believe they were the first to use sapphire”
    They still will!! Apple can make people believe almost anything apparently…

    • No_Nickname90

      It’ll be a Sapphire Screen, not a Sapphire Display. Therefore they were the first to come out with it.

  • EP_2012

    I don’t really care of it protects against drops from 20′ up… how does it handle SAND and fine debris that might be in your pocket? That’s where Gorilla Glass always failed and nobody has been able to say if this new Sapphire stuff will do any better.

    • J Cav the Great

      Good Question.

    • http://twitter.com/Vanakatherock Vanakatherock

      Well, FWIW, I’ve never seen an iPhone 5/5S/5C come in to my used phone resale business with a scratched camera lens. It is made of sapphire. This is pretty good considering the chassis glass that is immediately around the iPhone camera scratches fairly easy.

      • EP_2012

        Appreciate that info. Will be interesting to know for sure. I’ve used plastic screen protectors for years on my phones, and while they have never been a problem, I’d prefer to use nothing if the glass is truly scratch-proof.

      • Durin123

        Enough with the initialisms, already. Just type “for what it’s worth”.

        • http://twitter.com/Vanakatherock Vanakatherock

          HAHAHAHAHA

    • Terry

      I am wondering the same thing too. I see all these vidoes where they scratch it with keys and a knife and other stuff, yet I put it in my pocket and take it out and there is a scratch on it.

      • EP_2012

        Yup, or give it to my wife for testing. One hour in her purse and I guarantee sapphire will be no match! muuuhahaha.

        Realistically, instead of these drop tests, I hope someone does a few real world tests: pocket w/ sand; dragging it across a dirty desk; putting it in a purse. It’s the small stuff that destroys these displays, not hunting knives and car tires.

    • Sean Daniel

      Sapphire is harder than silica sand. Silica sand comes in at a 6-7 on the mohs hardness scale while sapphire comes in at a 9. It shouldn’t scratch (from silica sand which is everywhere and the main culprit with scratching.) It should also be quite impact resistant. This is what they use for vehicles with windows that need to withstand explosives and weapons fire.

      Gorilla glass seems to have a mixed reception. I’ve seen postings saying it is a 6.8 and others that say it is a 9. Keep in mind that there are three generations of gorilla glass. The newer version may actually be closer to a 9. If I remember correctly, the glass itself is hardened by a tempering process as to be expected but this is not what achieves the higher level of hardness. I think it has a special coating that makes the surface more resistant to scratches. I would think such a system would be inferior to the sapphire material. A coating seems like it may degrade with time.

      Here’s the link to the mohs hardness scale:
      http://www.reade.com/Particle_Briefings/mohs_hardness_abrasive_grit.html

      • EP_2012

        Yes, on paper it should be scratch resistant, but that’s what Gorilla glass has been telling us for years and we know that’s not true. I’ll be eager to see what the sapphire scratch tests look like :)

        • Sean Daniel

          Same here but I think the current military applications certainly make it seem like it has a lot of potential. Gorilla glass… There’s just a lot of marketing there. My biggest question is why haven’t they gone for sapphire displays already? if it is a difference between 2-3 dollars per screen and 20-30 why not just add that in there… on a 600+ dollar device it isn’t much of a difference. Besides, that’s about what you will spend on a glass screen protector anyway.

    • steveb944

      This ‘Sapphire stuff’ has been around for a while on luxury watches. The issue is going to be the thickness of the crystal, if it’s treated (reflection mainly), and if it’s flat or slightly curved to avoid breaks.

      Sapphire crystal is simply scratch resistant. Depending on the quality it should have no issues, but I highly doubt we’ll get top of the line stuff on phones. Only time will tell.

  • steveb944

    FINALLY. I have sapphire crystal on my timepieces and I didn’t understand why smart phones didn’t have them yet with all that screen real estate. That’s pretty inexpensive considering replacing a crystal on an expensive watch costs hundreds.
    It’s too bad it’s going to be on a budget phone tho.