Apple seems to have a growing appreciation for synthetic sapphire as a material for use in portable electronics. Its affinity has expanded from just using the material for the iPhone 5’s camera covering to playing the role of the new home button for the iPhone 5S, concealing the TouchID fingerprint scanner. We’ve already heard that Apple might not want to go so far as to use full-on sapphire displays, having already experimented with the idea but ultimately passing, but we could very well see the material expand its presence in Apple’s lineup a little, as a new rumor suggests that sapphire will be returning as the home button material of choice when Apple introduces the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2.
While this source doesn’t directly address the possibility of sapphire home buttons on these new tablets being used as part of another fingerprint scanning system, that’s right where our suspicions head, especially considering the added cost of sapphire if not being used for some good, functional reason. Perhaps Apple’s also waiting to release those models until the yield rates for the scanner hardware improve.
Interestingly, the idea of Apple revisiting the idea of sapphire screens also comes back up in this report. It suggests such a feature on 2014 iPhones as being a possibility, but we wonder if that’s not just some wishful thinking.