Credit: Extreme Tech

Arguably, phones have evolved more than most other forms of technology. We’ve gone from rotary phones to corded phones to wireless phones to those giant shoe/walkie-talkie hybrids to cell phones. And even then, we’ve seen generations of cell phones, by and large thanks to Apple.

Understanding that, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that Apple has special plans for the iPhone 6. So what sets this one apart? What makes the iPhone 6 different from any of its predecessors?

Well, let’s download an app and find out.

Sapphire Glass

The most significant improvement is the glass. The iPhone 6 will be protected by something possibly stronger than David Guetta’s and Sia’s Titanium – sapphire glass.

How Is It Made?

Sapphire glass is a super-strong and super-tough material, supposedly even stronger than Gorilla Glass. After all, sapphire isn’t just the gemstone pictured above. Sapphire is a crystal that’s chameleon-like in that it takes on colors naturally when it forms (a red sapphire is called a ruby, so take that, Pokémon Ruby fans. You know Sapphire’s better!) Most people associate sapphires as being blue, and an iPhone with a blue screen might make it harder to see. However, science says that it’s actually impurities within the crystal that cause the coloration. Pure sapphire is a clear crystal, just like glass, and is thus ideal for Apple.

As one might imagine, pure sapphire isn’t exactly the commonest material known to people. Therefore, it is created synthetically by applying heat and pressure to aluminum oxide powder. Chemistry happens, and the synthetic sapphire becomes sapphire glass. The process is complete.

What Does It Do?

By using the glass, Apple can make their screens scratch and smash proof.

For anyone like me, who’s constantly dropping their phone and only mostly on accident, that level of protection is a welcome addition to Apple’s arsenal.

Now, iPhones do already use some sapphire glass. It protects the camera, for example, and covers the TouchID fingerprint sensor. However, Apple plans to use thin layers of sapphire glass for the iPhone 6’s entire display, offering maximum protection. It’s like Arkham for phones…except, you know, it actually offers protection. Apple’s not even the only company to use sapphire glass. Vertu, the luxury phone firm, also uses the protective glass in the costly Virtu Ti smartphone, and Samsung and LG have both begun reaching out to sapphire glass companies in the hopes of adopting this magical shield technology as well.

That said, let’s not get the wrong idea. Sapphire glass isn’t invulnerable. For instance, I do not recommend constructing your bomb shelter for the inevitable nuclear apocalypse out of sapphire glass. Nor do I recommend placing your iPhone on the ground and hopping on it with a pogo-stick. Just because it can survive a fall onto concrete without scratching – in theory – doesn’t mean you should make it your mission in life to break it.

Also, if you have the time and energy to do that, you probably need to find a new hobby.

Is There A Downside?

A big downside of sapphire glass is that it costs more to produce than Gorilla Glass. The Wall Street Journal reported that Gorilla Glass displays cost around £1.8 or $3 to produce while sapphire glass comes in at £9.6 or approximately $16. This means that the iPhone 6 could conceivably cost more than its ancestors. The difficulty in making the synthetic sapphires could further hike up the price, and there are even rumors that only the most expensive iPhone 6 models will receive sapphire glass screens.

All in all, what sapphire glass means is that our iPhones will have better protection from scruffs and scratches than ever before. A sturdier (though not impenetrable) device in the hands of us fragile creatures.

That’s something there’s not an app for. Yet.