During a recent interview, Huawei’s CEO Richard Yu showed off a modified version of the Ascend P7 smartphone, fitted with a sapphire crystal screen, and even encouraged people to try and scratch the display with a knife. The standard phone comes with an IPS LCD covered in Gorilla Glass 3.
Updated on 08-29-2014 by Andy Boxall: Huawei confirms the sapphire screened Ascend P7 will be released in the future.
Initially, it wasn’t clear if the company planned to release the higher-spec P7 in the future, or was just using the phone as a testbed for the technology. However, Huawei’s PR division confirmed to GSMArena.com the phone would indeed go on sale, adding it would be out in China soon. The name given at this stage is the Ascend P7 Sapphire Edition. Sadly, there was no mention of an international release, perhaps because of the difficulty in producing sapphire screens in large numbers.
Sapphire crystal displays have been hitting the news for at least a year. Luxury brand Vertu uses them on its own smartphones, Apple is expected to do the same with its iPhone 6, and even Kyocera has recently got in on the act with the Brigadier. Sapphire crystal is almost completely scratch proof and extremely hard wearing, but it also needs a lot of patience and skill to manufacture, making it an expensive option for companies to choose.
Yu produced the sapphire Ascend P7 after talking about the brand’s plans for the future. He’s quoted as saying we should look out for more “shocking products” soon, a statement which probably lost something in translation, unless he has a very low opinion of Huawei’s upcoming hardware. Anyway, as shocking products go, a sapphire screened Huawei phone is something of a surprise. The company is normally associated with well-priced, solid smartphones, and even the Ascend P7 is unusually high-end for a Huawei product.
Apparently, Yu doesn’t want Huawei to become the Volkswagen of the smartphone world – by which we think he means releasing reliable, if slightly uninspiring, products – and instead aspires to be Audi, and cater to both ends of the market. It’s certainly keen to move past its old reputation of only making phones destined to be rebranded by networks.
We may hear more about Huawei’s sapphire Ascend P7 during the IFA tech show in September, where the firm will hold a press conference to announce new hardware.
Article originally published on 08-07-2014