Apple seems to have big plans for sapphire with the latest clue coming from a freshly-published patent filing.
Published on Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, a patent application dubbed simply "Attachment Techniques" describes ways to securely attach sapphire to an iPhone. Apple has already used sapphire for the lens cover on the iPhone 5 and the surface of the fingerprint sensor on the iPhone 5S. But the company wants to expand its use, at least as envisioned in the patent filing.
As one example, sapphire could be used as a cover to better protect the screen of the iPhone. CNET's own Jessica Dolcourt tested an iPhone with a sapphire cover and found it more durable and scratch-resistant than the Gorilla Glass currently used. Of course, Gorilla Glass-maker Corning argues that its product is still the better of the two, at least when it comes to mobile phones.
Further, sapphire makes a good thermal conductor, comparable to metals, and could be attached to a processor to dissipate heat.
Sapphire is clearly on Apple's mind. Last November, the company signed a deal with sapphire producer GT Advanced Technologies to create the material for its device lineup. Another patent application published last November described plans to further incorporate sapphire into Apple's products.
Virtually indestructible sapphire smartphone screen