Apple's 5.44" phablet orders pegged at only 10 million, due to the $280 sapphire display yield
That elusive Apple phablet with a 5"+ display is likely to stay elusive for quite some time, if the latest rumors from China are to be believed. It's been rumored numerous times already that besides the 4.7" iPhone 6, Apple is in the endgame of outing a phablet with a 5.5" display. The current speculation pegs the screen size at exactly 5.44 inches, but says that Apple is still going for a display made of sapphire crystal with it. This material is extremely light and durable, and Apple recently acquired enough furnaces to produce 200 million of those tough panels.
The problem is with yield and cost, though. It's one thing to use sapphire for the camera lens, and the home button on an iPhone, and another to make the whole screen of the iPhone 6 out of the crystal, for example. When we add the alleged Apple phablet in the mix, with its even larger panel, yield and cost might become prohibitive for the usual gross margin that the company commands. Therefore, the publication says, Apple is planning to produce just 10 million of those 5.5" phablets over the lifetime of the undertaking. A single sapphire screen of this magnitude, they argue, is slated to cost the whopping $280, more than the cost of the whole current iPhone itself. Thus, Apple has to charge a premium to maintain margins, and the sales of the phablet aren't projected to amount to more than 10 million.
There are already issues with the yield of these panels, it seems, so the 5.5" phone is unlikely to be introduced with the 4.7" mainstream iPhone 6, but might enter the fray early next year instead, if we believe another rumor. In any case, it looks like things in iOS land are starting to get big, literally, and the whole one-handed operation paradigm of Steve Jobs that led to the original iPhone, is soon going to be thrown out of the window. We probably have the proliferation of Android handsets to thank for that, as those have long crossed the 6" mark even.