Articles Blog

Apple ‘Sapphire’ iPhone Lens – Whats it made of?

Apple ‘Sapphire’ iPhone Lens – Whats it made of?

Ever since the iPhone 5S, Apple has claimed
to have Sapphire Crystal as their iPhone camera lens. This includes the iPhone 6, and 6s, and even
the iPhone SE. Sapphire crystal is a man made material that
is EXTREMELY hard and almost impossible to scratch with every day objects, since it ranks
about a 9 on Mohs Scale of Hardness, right next to diamonds. So its a pretty big selling point when a company
brags about using it. Tissot, is another company that brags about
the sapphire crystal on their watches. It’s even written right here on the back. Lets compare Tissots Sapphire hardness to
Apples Sapphire hardness. These picks let me know where an object fall
on Moh Scale of Hardness. Glass, even tempered glass or Gorilla Glass
will always fall at a 5 or 6. Plastic will be a 2 or 3, and sapphire will
be an 8 or a 9. As you can see from my picks on this watch
face, there is absolutely no mark until a Mohs 8 pick leaves the first visible groove. If you remember from my iPhone 7 durability
test a few days ago, when I scratched the camera lens of the iPhone 7 with my pics,
it left visible mark at a Mohs 6 which lead me to assume that the lens is just regular
tempered glass. Since it has the same hardness level. It was only after I made the durability video
that I notice Apple still bragging about sapphire on the iPhone 7. So… I figured it was time to test all of the ‘Sapphire’
iPhone lenses. Now, full disclosure, this hurts me. Even more so than snapping a phone in half. I’m a camera guy, so deliberately scratching
a camera len, even for science, is extremely painful. I retested the iPhone 7, and got the same
result. A 6, a 7, and an 8 pick all leave their mark. Scratching much sooner than Sapphire crystal
should scratch. The ‘Sapphire’ lens on the iPhone SE also
scratched with a 6 and 7. The iPhone 5S showed marks at a 6 and 7. And even the iPhone 6 scratched at a 6 and
7. So we can easily conclude that Each of the
iPhone sapphire lenses are much softer than the Tissot watch face… At this point, I thought the case was closed. I got ready to post a video saying Apple just
isn’t using Sapphire Crystal. But… I grabbed a diamond tester that I have laying
around, and I tested the outer glass surface, and bewilderingly enough it tested positive
for sapphire. Which is strange because as we’ve clearly
seen, the hardness level does not match what sapphire should be. When I test the underside of the lens, the
sapphire reading is much lower… also interesting, but Ill explain that in just a second. As you can see when I test my Tissot watch
face It is off the charts in sapphire readings, but that is only because it is a larger surface
area and easier for the machine to identify. Just for reference, this is a real sapphire. It’s pretty small stone, but is still a level
9 on Mohs Scale of Hardness. This is just showing the mineral picks in
action, as well as a control for the tester tool. Both companies claim to have sapphire, so
why is there a difference in hardness? I looked at both my Tissot watch and iPhone
camera lens under a microscope and found some interesting things. First of all, remember that this scratch on
the watch happened at a level 8. We can see the damage pretty clearly under
the microscope. The thin groove and the little chippings that
permanently disfigure the crystal. But if we check the sapphire iPhone 5S Camera
lens under the microscope we see something entirely different. Remember that this is the Mohs 6 line, and
this is the Mohs 7 line. The crack here happened as I was lifting the
lens out of the iPhone frame… The level 6 and 7 picks definitely did permanent
damage, But under a microscope they look like fractures instead of scratches. Sill very permanent, and still permanently
disfiguring the lens. So its pretty clear that we are working with
2 different quality’s of crystal here. Now that we’ve seen the damage… lets figure
out why the Apple lens start to fracture at a Mohs 6, when it should be resilient to at
least an 8, like on the Tissot watch, or 9 like we saw on the actual sapphire stone. So I checked Apples patent for their sapphire
information, and I found a few strange things. I will link this form down in the video description
if you are interested in looking at it yourself. One of the very first things it says is that
Apples patent is related to thin Sapphire Laminates. And then down here it talks about laminating
regular glass with a sapphire coating, instead of having the whole thing be sapphire. Interestingly enough because ‘glass may provide
cost savings over sapphire.’ It also specifically references camera lenses. So is that why the lens is fracturing? Maybe its not solid sapphire… it could be
just a thin laminate on top of regular glass because it would be more cost effective…? I realized that in order to really analyze
the lens before posting a video… I need some bigger toys. I headed over to a university, where they
have an XRF machine. X-Ray Fluorescence is a non destructive analytical
technique used to determine the composition of materials. Remember that this particular machine is only
Qualitative, not quantitative. So it wont tell us the percentage of each
element, just if that element exists in the specimen. When I test the outside of the lens, we get
a huge reading of Aluminum oxide., which means that the lens is most definitely sapphire
on the exterior. But when I test the inside of the lens, I
get no reading for Aluminum Oxide, but I do get a reading for silicon which is an ingredient
of glass. This means that the underside of the lens
is made of; or coated with, glass… BUT The XRF machine does not tell how thick
each side is. So, in order to find the thickness of each
layer of the lens, I need an even bigger toy. Now, this machine is an Electron Microscope. Costing close to a million dollars, I wish
I had one in my basement… but Santa keeps on ignoring my letters. Either way, in this test, I have broken the
actual iPhone 7 lens out of the phone, and here we are looking at the cross section of
the broken lens. This here is the total lens thickness. And this Electron microscope is showing us
the actual elemental make up of the lens. Thumbs up for science. The lens was cleaned before analyzing. And this is what we see during the scan. The different colors represent where the different
elements are found in the lens. Carbon and Silicon are not ingredients of
sapphire. Only Aluminum Oxide. So from this image, we can pretty safely assume
that the sapphire we are looking at is not pure. There are a pretty hefty amount of contaminants. Like the carbon and silicon. Remember how my diamond detector tool had
a lower reading on the inside of the lens? That’s because there is a silicon layer, that
you can see here, but it is incredibly small in proportion to the rest of the lens, so
its pretty much a non issue. I bet that inner layer is more to minimize
reflection or something minor because structurally it doesn’t seem like it would add any value. The vast portion of the lens is Aluminum Oxide. The graph here is quantitative, so it is giving
us an accurate percentage of elements. Aluminum Oxide, Carbon, and silicon in this
particular reading. Lets look at another segment. Remember this is the Exterior, and this is
the interior. And this is the profile of the crack. It has that incredibly thin coating of something
on the inside. Niobium and Silicon.  Niobium improves the refractive index of
optical glass, allowing for thinner and lighter lenses, So it looks like that particular element
is intentional. The majority is aluminum oxide, which is what
we call sapphire, but then we still have quite a bit of carbon. The main impurity. Here is the quantitative graph again. The carbon is still a decent sized chunk. The niobium and silicon are just on that tiny
inner layer. Now, lets take a look at the elemental analysis
of the Sapphire crystal on my Tissot watch. The only two elements found on the surface
in the scan are Aluminum And the Oxide. No carbon impurity, also ratios of the Tissot
Saphire are also very different than Apples Sapphire. Apple only has a 2 or 3 percent difference
between the aluminum and oxide. And Tissot has almost a 10% difference. Now, I am not a chemist, geologist or an engineer,
I personally graduated in business. But these numbers sure are interesting between
a lens that fractures and a lens at does fracture and a lens that doesn’t. After filming and editing this video, I noticed
that one of MKBHD’s most popular videos, which I will link in the video description, is about
the prototype sapphire screen of the iPhone 6. He came to the independent conclusion that
it scratched at a 7 on Mohs Scale. Which, if that prototype was indeed a real
piece of Apple Sapphire, it does match the same recipe that they are currently using
for their camera lens. Makes me wonder: if the ‘Sapphire’ screen
prototype, and the current ‘sapphire’ camera lens, both scratch early… is the ‘Sapphire’
Apple watch made with the same weak recipe? And the bigger question: How impure can your
sapphire be and still call it ‘sapphire’? In conclusion. Just because my results show that the lens
scratches earlier than sapphire, doesn’t mean its a bad lens. Its still scratch resistant, just like glass
is, and the pictures are still great. Its just not as scratch resistant as we all
thought it was. If you like seeing technology reviewed from
the inside, Hit that subscribe button. My behind the scenes stuff can always be found
on Instagram and Twitter. @ZacksJerryRig Thanks a ton for watching! Hope to see you around.

99 thoughts on “Apple ‘Sapphire’ iPhone Lens – Whats it made of?”

  1. Well done for going to length you went to in order to get some real data on what the hell they are using but calling sapphire crystal. Obviously it is not a normal sapphire or pure sapphire. It's insane that their only response is to say "you didn't test it right". Jesus, just admit that it is not up to scratch! (get it? 😉 )

  2. Dude thank you so much for this scientific analysis, I am seriously concerned Apple is going to put out a hit on you

  3. enjoyed the analytical part, I use the same Oxford EDS at work. I’ve always wanted to put my phone in the SEM 😉

  4. You should use your picks at corresponding hand placements on the watch. so, from the center out, pick 6 at 6 oclock, 7 at 7, etc.

  5. @7:40 the oxygen difference is because the apple lense had extra oxygen as silicon dioxide. Its not just silicon. Silicon does not exist in free state.

  6. Can you test gshock for saphire stone this watches are unbreakable as you prabobly know would be great if you test gshock rangeman for instance thanks mate

  7. Man, I literally felt like solving a mystery like Sherlock Holmes . Love your both videos based on Apple shit. Please do more apple videos man, I really love it. <3 I mean DESTROY THAT APPLE SHIT WITH TOOLS AND SCIENCE.

  8. If sapphire is aluminium oxide then if I leave aluminium in open moist air will it oxediz and become saphire

  9. I’m sick of people systematically claiming Apple products are shit watch 1:00 on the left side of the tissot watch how you can clearly see scratches made by level 6 Jerry is fabricating everything and is clearly biased

  10. Zach, I've thanked you before I think, but seriously thank you again for captioning your videos! Deaf folks like me really appreciate it!!

    Your content is so entertaining, informative, and addicting!

  11. Finally, GT technology and Thomas Gutierrez were filed with 'misleading' investment regarding the "inferior quality" and ''specially blended" type of sapphire Apple was so proud of. YAY

  12. He actually trusted the sapphire on the iPhone 6 plus I remember him saying on a durability video that it’s so hard to find a genuine replacement🤔

  13. You know what? He didn’t even say anything about the sapphire on the Touch ID!
    Is this just to say that apple is advertising fake sapphire????
    Obviously some of the sapphire went on the homebutton!
    Remember “the homebutton scratches at level 8”

  14. I have a red iPhone XR and the camera is really scratched! I never drop my phone or anything. But it’s really scratched, don’t know why. What should I do about it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *