Construction on Apple’s new sapphire crystal manufacturing plant in Mesa, Arizona, is apparently moving along as a blistering pace – so much so that the Cupertino-based company has an aggressive plan to open the facility next month but it’s what Apple plans to use the new sapphire components for that has the Internet abuzz today.
9to5Mac was able to track down some documents showing correspondence between U.S. Foreign Trade Zone officials and Apple’s Deputy Director of Global Trade Compliance that were recently made public by the Foreign Trade Zones Board.
In the documents, Apple points out that the high-tech manufacturing process will create a critical new sub-component of Apple products to be used in the manufacture of the consumer electronics that will be imported and then sold globally.
The “critical new sub-components” is vague at best but suggests that Apple may be eyeballing the sapphire components for a completely new product. But exactly what new product are we talking about?
Earlier rumors suggest Apple is working with Foxconn to conduct a test run of sapphire iPhone displays, possibly for use on the iPhone 6. Such screens could offer superior scratch resistance qualities but at the same time, Apple could also be eyeballing the technology for other devices like iPads, iPods or the long-rumored iWatch. The latter option makes a lot of sense as the device would be out in the open most of the time on your wrist.
Another plausible option could include using the sapphire for the Touch ID Home button on future revisions of the iPad.