Kyocera isn't exactly a big name in modern Android smartphones, but it does make a lot of rugged devices that don't get much press. It's also big in materials science, which is where sapphire comes in. See, it seems like a safe bet that the next iPhone will have a sapphire glass display, and Kyocera happens to know a lot about manufacturing synthetic sapphire for watches and electrical components. So, they're making sapphire screens for smartphones. This is the thing now.

So why is sapphire suddenly the thing? Next to diamond and moissanite, sapphire is the strongest crystalline mineral, and it's only blue because of titanium impurities. Synthetic sapphire can be produced without any of that, making the aluminum oxide crystals clear and still incredibly resistant to scratching and cracking. Kyocera is teasing its Sapphire Shield technology, which it says will be a truly affordable sapphire display. It isn't clear from the video if it's going to be used in Kyocera's own rugged phones, or if it's going to be selling the panels to larger OEMs like Corning has done with Gorilla Glass.

The cost of making phone-sized panels of sapphire glass has thus far been to high to justify spinning up production, but apparently Apple has some new laser cutting patents that makes the process viable. Kyocera must have something up its sleeve to be talking up the low cost, but we'll just have to wait and see.