The iWatch and iPhone 6 will have screens protected by sapphire crystal instead of glass, as Apple looks to end the smartphone’s relationship with easily-smashed screens.
A material weaker only to diamond, sapphire crystal is used by high-end watchmakers and for covering the rear camera lens of the current iPhone 5s. Due to its high manufacturing cost sapphire crystal has only previously been used for phone screens by ultra-exclusive handset maker Vertu, which charges almost £7,000 for its Signature Touch.
Apple, like most other smartphone makers, has until now used Gorilla Glass produced by a company called Corning.
The report comes from sources of the Wall Street Journal and arrives just hours after Motorola sent out invitations to a press event where it will speak more about its highly anticipated Moto 360 smartwatch, due on sale imminently.
The WSJ report also claims Apple is looking at using sapphire crystal for the screens of the iPhone 6 - but this might be a privilege given only to the larger and more expensive 5.5-inch model, not the 4.7-inch version.
“Apple is considering using sapphire screens in more-expensive models of the two new, larger iPhones it plans to debut this fall, if it can get enough of the material, people familiar with the matter say. Some analysts expect Apple to charge more for the phones than previous new models, because of increased component costs,” the report said.
Apple is tipped to launch the iPhone 6 at a media event on 9 September, although it is unclear if this will see both models and the iWatch, or if the wearable and larger iPhone will arrive later in the year.