China’s Sapphire Industry Picks Up as Apple Watch Hits the Market, LEDinside Reports

At the long-awaited “Spring Forward” media event hosted by Apple on March 9, all eyes will be on the reveal of the Apple Watch, which will have a watch cover made of sapphire glass. By incorporating this material into its newest products, Apple has provided an unprecedented, game-changing opportunity for China’s sapphire industry. LEDinside, a division of TrendForce, anticipates sapphire market demand will multiply once these smart watches hit the market. LEDinside’s Senior Analyst Figo Wang further stated the sapphire manufacturing will likely become a globally competitive section of China’s materials industry. 

According to LEDinside’s estimation, the total shipments of Apple Watch in 2015 will reach 20 million sets. Among the different Apple Watch models, only the Watch Sport series is not using sapphire watch cover glass. To be fitted on the cover of an Apple Watch, the sapphire glass requires to go through double-sided polishing and 2.5D process, so the sapphire watch cover has to be thicker compared with that of other products. LEDinside projects a total of 30.8 million millimeters of two-inch equivalent sapphire ingot will be used for the Apple Watch covers in 2015. This accounts for 18% of sapphire ingots produced worldwide for the entire year. Facing this new surging demand, the sapphire industry can look forward to a dramatic improvement in the market demand and supply. 

The Apple Watch and Watch Edition will come equipped with sapphire watch covers, but the Sport model of the watch will not. (Photo Courtesy of Apple)

The sapphire covers for Apple’s smart watches are sourced from two Chinese suppliers: Lens Technology and Biel Crystal. Due to technology, costs, and geography, Chinese sapphire makers intend to work closely with these two major glass suppliers. Through cooperation, they will be able to get the most benefit from the supply chain. With Lens Technology and Biel Crystal as vanguards, Chinese sapphire makers join the Apple Watch supply chain 

Wang further noted, “Being the suppliers to Apple’s optical glass, Lens Technology and Biel Crystal have paid close attention to the application of sapphire glass in consumer electronics.” Lens Technology’s total revenue in 2014 reached RMB 14.49 billion. As its biggest client, Apple accounted for 47.44% of Lens Technology’s revenue for that year. Lens Technology’s official IPO is set on March 10th, when the company will be listed on ChiNext board of the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. Biel Crystal also has a long and established relationship with Apple that began earlier than Lens Technology’s. 

China’s sapphire makers have the geographical advantage that allow them to work closely with these two major domestic glass processors during the R&D phase. This alliance with Lens Technology and Biel Crystal aims to improve the makers’ production and processing, so they will be able to increase their yield rates and satisfy Apple’s demands. One of these partners, Harbin Aurora Optoelectronics, has even netted orders from both Lens Technology and Biel Crystal, thus benefitting fully from orders for Apple Watch products. With these gains, Harbin Aurora will be able to position itself next to Russia’s Monocrystal as another global giant in the sapphire industry. 

LEDinside 2014 Sapphire Substrate Market Report

Chapter I Sapphire Substrate Industry Overview 


 1.1 Technology Development History of Sapphire Substrate Industry

 1.2 Sapphire Substrate Production Process


Chapter II Discussion on Advanced technology of Sapphire Substrate Industry 


 2.1 Mainstream Sapphire Ingot Technology

 2.2 Mainstream Sapphire Substrate Technology

 2.3 Mainstream Pattern Sapphire Substrate Technology

 LEDinside reserves the right to change the content


Chapter III Discussion on Global Supply Chain Related to Sapphire Substrate 


 3.1 Sapphire Substrate Materials Overview

 3.2 Sapphire Crystal Growth Furnace Equipment Overview


Chapter IV Supply-side Analysis of Global Sapphire Substrate Industry 


 4.1 Sapphire Substrate Industry Supply Chain Trend

 4.2 Sapphire Ingot Manufacturer Capacity Overview

 4.3 Sapphire Substrate Manufacturer Capacity Overview

 4.4 Pattern Sapphire Substrate Manufacturer Capacity Overview

 4.5 Major Manufacturer’s Business Performance and Market Development

 4.6 Sapphire Manufacturer Business Strategies in LED and non-LED Markets

 4.7 Sapphire Substrate Industry Sufficiency- Supply and Demand


Chapter V Global Sapphire Substrate Market Price Trend 


 5.1 Sapphire Industry Price Trend Analysis- Ingot, CSS, and PSS

 5.2 Sapphire Industry Long-term Price Forecast- Ingot


Chapter V Global Sapphire Substrate Market Price Trend 


 5.1 Sapphire Industry Price Trend Analysis- Ingot, CSS, and PSS 

 5.2 Sapphire Industry Long-term Price Forecast- Ingot


Chapter VI Analysis on Demand for Sapphire Substrate in LED Market      


 6.1 LED Market Value and Volume Forecast

 6.2 MOCVD Installation Volume Forecast 

 6.3 2013~2018 Global LED Market Demand (Total Sapphire Volume and By Region) and Wafer Size Trend 

 6.4 Chip Manufacturers' Sapphire Substrate and PSS Supply Chain 

 6.5 LED Chip Manufacturer Revenue Ranking and Capacity Estimates 

 6.6 Major LED Chip Manufacturer Profile 

 6.7 Chip House PSS Introduction Rate and in-house PSS Production Rate 

 6.8 Advanced LED Chip Technology 

 6.9 LED Chip Price Trend

 6.10 Cost Analysis of Sapphire Substrate in LED Chip 

 6.11 Analysis on Advantages and Disadvantages of Four-inch and Six-inch Sapphire Substrates 

 6.12 Alternative Materials of Sapphire Substrate in LED Application Market


Chapter VII Sapphire Substrate in Emerging Applications 


 7.1 Window Film and Telecommunications Component Market and Technology Prospect


·         Sapphire Substrate in SOS Market Overview


·         SOS in RF IC and Sensor Application Market


·         With SOS Technology, UltraCMOS® Has Better Performance


·         SOS in CMOS Application- Peregrine


·         SOS To Be Replaced by SOI Due to Better C/P Ratio


·         Sapphire Substrate in Windows Film Market Overview


·         Sapphire Substrate in Windows Film Market Overview


·         Sapphire Substrate in Medium-Wave Infrared Windows Market Overview


7.2 Sapphire in Handset Device Market Outlook and Supply Chain Development


·         Sapphire in Smartphone Overview


·         Camera Lens: Sapphire Camera Lens in Smartphone


·         Home Button: Fingerprint Recognition Applications on Smart Phones


·         Sapphire Cover Glass Helps to Improve Capacitive Fingerprint Recognition System


·         Other Manufacturers Ramping


·         Camera Lens and Home Button Are the Major Application in 2014


·         Sapphire Cover Glass in Smartphone


·         Currently, Only a Few Companies Apply Sapphire As Cover Glass, There is Still a Long


·         Way to Go For Mass Production


·         APPLE Will Apply Sapphire to Protect Screen!


·         Why Does APPLE Need to Apply Sapphire to Protect Screen?


·         Challenges to Appear in Introducing Sapphire Screen that APPLE Has to Overcome

 a. Increase Capacity: KY Method with Low Drilling Rate, GTAT and STC Methods are More Suitable for Square Panel for Sapphire Cover Glass 

 b. Increase Capacity: GTAT’s ASF is Helpful Sapphire Cover Glass in Phones 

 c. Reduce Cost Greatly: Sapphire Substrate Lamination Patent 

 d. Reduce Cost: Cutting Technology and Lamination Patent Makes Sapphire Cover Glass to Be Achieved in Short Time 

 e. Manage Supply Chain: Supply Chain Management: APPLE Ensures the Supply Source of Sapphire Ingot and Assures Quality, GTAT only Applies EMT’s Aluminium Trioxide 

 f. Manage Supply Chain: Analysis on APPLE Aggressively Secure Sapphire Supply Chain


·         Phone Camera Lens and Home Button Supply Chain- iPhone 5S & 5C


·         Estimated Apple Shipment Schedule


·         How Sapphire Manufacturers Coordinate With Mobile Production Cycles Will Be a Major Test


7.3 Sapphire Substrates Market Value for Non-LED Applications 



·         Sapphire Substrates Market Value for Non-LED Applications: Demand Forecast of Sapphire Material in Window Film and Telecommunications Components Markets


·         Sapphire in Mobile Device Market has Growth Potential


·         Sapphire Demand Forecast in Mobile Application


·         Analysis of APPLE iWatch’s Sapphire Screen


·         The Increasing Proportion of Sapphire Substrate In All Kinds Of Non-LED Application: Handset Device Owns The Most Growth Potential

For further details please contact:

Joanne Wu (Taipei)

+886-2-7702-6888 ext. 972

Wendy Lin (Taipei)

+886-2-7702-6888 ext. 650

Sara Fan (ShenZhen)


Allen Li (Shanghai)

+86-21-6439-9830 ext. 608

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