Chinese manufacturer announces budget sapphire screen smartphone

Chinese manufacturer Desay has announced a new budget smartphone with one stand-out feature – a super-tough sapphire glass display.

The Magical Mirror X5 from Desay, a Chinese state-controlled manufacturer, is a 6.95mm thick smartphone with a 5-inch sapphire glass display.

Despite containing such a premium component, Desay has started taking pre-orders for the phone at just 999 yuan (£106) a pop.

The sapphire glass material may be famous for being the second toughest material after diamond, but it has become infamous for being the material that has thus far thwarted some of Apple’s most ambitious production plans.

Last year, Apple’s sapphire glass production partner GT Advanced filed for bankruptcy as it proved incapable of meeting Apple’s yield demands. It was thought that Apple intended for its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones to contain sapphire screens, but ultimately had to fit them out with a less tough material.

As for Desay, the fact that such a nondescript phone can be produced with a full sapphire display must rub salt into Apple’s wounds. However, there’s every chance that the Magical Mirror X5 isn’t quite what it seems.

As the Wall Street Journal reports, analysts reckon that the Magical Mirror X5 could only be offered in limited quantities. The low retail price next to the difficulty and related cost of producing sapphire glass would prohibit any kind of large-scale budget offering.

“It’s a smart marketing campaign to promote its nascent brand,” says Forrester analyst Gene Cao. “I doubt if all of its Magical Mirror X5 phones would actually feature expensive sapphire screens as customers cannot tell the difference between a hardened glass and a sapphire.”

Read More: Sapphire displays on phones – is it a big deal?

This isn’t a completely new tactic. Back in August, Huawei announced a limited Sapphire Edition of its latest flagship phone, the Huawei Ascend P7.

However, not being open about the precise make-up of your new phone’s display (as Huawei clearly was) could be perceived as a little underhanded.

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