Back in April, rumors began to spread of a new device from Kyocera dubbed the Brigadier. It appeared at the time to be a smartphone running Android Kit Kat 4.4, with a very rugged looking exterior. Even though Kyocera does make high-end devices in its native Japan, their presence in the U.S. market has been limited to low to mid-end devices offered by pre-paid carriers, and sometimes Sprint and Verizon. Because of this, the Brigadier was also expected to be a device in the low to mid cost range. However, new details are emerging that indicate the as yet unreleased Brigadier may have some high end hardware features, like the use of a sapphire glass display.
Kyocera has been working on their Sapphire Shield display, and an announcement by the company on July 18 seems to indicate that they are preparing to be able to deliver large quantities of the product. Sapphire Shield is a protective covering for anything from smart wearables to smartphones, that has a compressive strength of about 10x that of stainless steel. Like Gorilla Glass, the current standard built in screen protection for high-end smartphones, Sapphire Shield is intended as a protective layer applied by a manufacturer during fabrication, not by a customer after purchase. It is a product that seems to be positioned to directly compete with the sapphire screen being developed by Apple for the next iteration of their iPhone. Rumors suggest that the technology is so expensive that Apple has considered limiting the use of sapphire screens to only its most expensive devices. However, Kyocera's manufacturers seem to have come up with a solution to that, getting the price down from $30-$35 dollars more than the $3 per screen of Gorilla Glass to a more affordable $10 range. Of course, Corning, the maker of Gorilla Glass, says that sapphire glass is easier to break than Gorilla Glass, and they may be correct. Sapphire glass is denser than gorilla glass, so in order to keep device weight down, sapphire displays have to be thinner than Gorilla Glass screens. This thinness seems to be the basis for some iPhone 6 delays, as the Apple sapphire screens have been giving manufacturers a bit of trouble. For more information regarding Kyocera's Sapphire Shield display, click on the video link below.
However, as stated earlier, Kyocera seems to have worked out most of the aforementioned problems with sapphire displays, and they now seem to be preparing to include the technology in the upcoming release of the Brigadier. The device, reported to be planned for a Verizon Wireless release, is rumored to have a 4.5 in sapphire display, with 720 x 1280 display, and IP68 technology making it dust and water resistant. In fact, the device has been rumored to offer protection for up to 30 minutes in 6 feet of water. It is also expected to have an 8MP rear camera with a 2MP front camera and a quad core 1.4 GHz processor with 2GB of RAM. The device is believed to be available with 16GB of internal memory at release.