Apple patent for fingerprint-resistant coating adds more proof sapphire displays are coming soon


A new Apple patent application filed last year and published by the United States Patent & Trademark Office today adds more proof that Apple is preparing to use sapphire displays in upcoming devices (via AI). There has been no shortage of proof that Apple is preparing to do something— most likely next-generation iPhone screens— with the large Sapphire plant it recently picked up in Arizona. We already know that the sapphire material could make iPhone displays, for example, stronger and more scratch resistant, but today’s patent details a method Apple will use to also make sure the sapphire repels fingerprints as well or better than the glass used on previous generation iPhones.

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The patent details various methods of applying an oleophobic coating on sapphire material, “particularly where information is also displayed on the touch-sensitive surface (e.g., on a touch-sensitive display).” There’s also mentions of using a hydrophobic coating for waterproofing properties in the patent. While Apple’s patent shows the method of application of these coatings has to change when applied to sapphire, Apple has long used both oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings on its touch displays.

Analyst Matt Margolis pointed out some details on the new process of applying the coatings to sapphire as described in the patent:

What is interesting is that this patent allows for the oleophobic coating to be applied to a brick of sapphire and not having to apply it to each cut screen individually i.e. the patent allows for batch processing. The process used to coat sapphire screens is different from traditional glass screens. The patent mentions PVD and sintering as options. Apple and GT may be leveraging GT’s SPS technology for sintering to get this job done in the most efficient way possible Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS)

The patent is rather new having been first filed in September of last year, but it’s worth keeping in mind that Apple already uses sapphire on the iPhone camera lens and home button, both components that would typically get oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings. The patent does, however, seem to hint at using the coatings on larger touchscreen-sized areas.

Apple and its partners have already revealed that a new manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona will go towards producing sapphire. In February, we reported that Apple and its partners at the new plant had procured enough sapphire crystal furnaces to make approximately 100-200M 5-inch iPhone displays.

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  1. themis333 - 9 years ago

    Sapphire screens are going to really up the game. Not needing a screen protector to protect from scratches is something I’m looking forward to greatly!

    • OneOkami (@OneOkami) - 9 years ago

      Was just gonna say the same. I’m all for Sapphire screens. They’re maybe about the only screen material (besides diamond of course) where I’d casually and confidently not bother using a screen protector.

      Bring ’em on!

      • themis333 - 9 years ago

        Yes! I’ve always worried about scratching my screen. I hate using (and paying for) screen protectors constantly. The lens and home button on my iPhone 5s are still perfect even though they’re not covered. I’m really excited at being able to use it as it was intended!

    • heabes (@heabes) - 9 years ago

      I too have hated the feel of plastic screen protectors. I found this product called “spigen glas.t” (yes just like that) it’s essentially a thin piece of what i like to call “sacrificial glass” that adheres over your phone screen and feels as good as the original! Me and a few of my friends have all bought them and love them. So while it may not be as nice as sapphire it certainly works good until apple releases it! Check it out for yourself i promise you won’t be upset. they have a few different models. I think i got the slim with beveled edges or something along those lines enjoy!

    • Mr. Grey (@mister_grey) - 9 years ago

      You actually don’t need a screen protector to “protect from scratches” already. There are very few things in the world that will scratch gorilla glass in the first place, and all the “scratch protectors” you can buy are soft, soft, plastic, which won’t protect anything either.

      If you *do* manage to get some sand on your iPhone (one of the few things that will scratch it) and drag it across something so that it scratches, it will almost certainly chew through the soft plastic “scratch protector” like butter and scratch your screen anyway.

    • Udo Heib (@4uHyper) - 9 years ago

      Does anybody realize that (beside Sand) you don’t need screen protection any more with the 5S? I tried it with my Key and a sharp knife. On the backside only the cheap Apple logo is scratch sensitive.
      It would be great if the screen is less “fat sensitive”.

  2. rogifan - 9 years ago

    I just hope whatever they’re doing makes the glass less prone to breaking when dropped.

  3. wootaddict - 9 years ago

    Sapphire display = game changer!

  4. chathu (@chathu27) - 9 years ago

    hard to believe it’s for the iPhone… imagine getting your display replaced (if) something happens. I think it’s most likely that this is for the iWatch.


Avatar for Jordan Kahn Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.