iPhone 6 Concept Image by Lewi Hussey
iPhone 6 Concept Image by Lewi HusseyLewi Hussey via ConceptsiPhone

Amid speculations that Apple Inc. would release its upcoming flagship smartphone - iPhone 6 - at the WWDC event in June, GT Advanced Technologies' earnings report has hinted at a late launch of the device, probably in the second or third quarter of 2014.

The report came amid speculations that iPhone 6 might have scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass screen coating instead of Corning Gorilla Glass. Apple hitherto used sapphire only on camera lens and fingerprint sensor of iPhone 5s.

GT Advanced Technologies Inc., which was paid $578 million by Apple last November for sapphire production, has said in a statement in its earnings report that its sapphire materials business would increase drastically in the second half of 2014, hinting that iPhone 6 would arrive later than expected.

"Our results for the December quarter were in line with our guidance and the anticipated growth trajectory of our business remains unchanged," said Tom Gutierrez, president and chief executive officer, GT Advanced Technologies. "We expect to return to profitability during the second half of 2014.

"Our arrangement to supply sapphire materials to Apple is progressing well and we started to build out the facility in Arizona and staff the operation during the quarter," he added.

The company expects financial performance to improve during the second half of 2014 with the increase in sapphire materials business as the year progresses. It expects revenues to range from $600 million to $800 million in 2014. Revenue from first quarter of the year is expected to range $20 million to $30 million, accounting for just 15 percent of total revenues.

The statement from GT Advanced Technologies has clearly hinted that production of sapphire, which is supposedly for Apple Inc., would start in the second half of the year, indicating late release of iPhone 6.

It is reported that the price of iPhone 6 would increase drastically if sapphire crystal glass is used for screen coating, as it is estimated to cost 3-4 times the cost of Gorilla Glass, which is used in iPhone 5s.

"The arrival of sapphire means a dramatic increase in the cost of making an iPhone, as sapphire is far more expensive than the present Gorilla Glass, but it remains unknown whether the price of a single iPhone will go up," said a report by South China Morning Post.

Meanwhile, Apple's flagship smartphone is expected to sport a 4.7/4.8 or 5.5' display with a 1920x1080p (440ppi), or a 2272×1280 (510ppi), according to a note to investors by South Korea's brokerage KDB Daewoo Securities. It is expected to be powered by A8 chip (64-bit), run on iOS 7.2, feature gesture control with 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity and have a 1,800mAh battery.