Unless you have a death grip on your ever larger smartphone, you know the drops are coming. Luckily for me I seem to be aiming my drops on carpet or something soft for my iPhone 6 Plus. Corning is announcing their 4th generation Gorilla Glass today, and it should start showing up in consumer products within three months.
Gorilla Glass 3 was designed to defeat your everyday wear and tear. Namely the people with giant keychains to go with their giant phone. In what Corning dubbed ‘native damage resistance,’ devices equipped with the screens could stand up pretty well. Unfortunately it couldn’t handle every drop.
Enter Gorilla Glass 4. No, you can’t go out of your way to break your phone’s screen, but the new glass is reporting up to 80% survivability on a one meter drop onto a hard surface. Corning setup the test to include the drop from one meter straight down to a surface covered in 180-grit sandpaper – a simulation of a hard, outdoor surface.
The results were a two-fold increase in survivability chances over Gorilla Glass 3. Is it perfect? Corning readily admits it isn’t, and there’s work to be done. In other words, buy a case. At the very least, quit playing backyard football with your iPhone and wondering why it’s broken afterwards.
Age of Sapphire Glass?
With the new Gorilla Glass, the comparisons come quickly to sapphire. Is it better? Cliff Hund, president of Corning East Asia, admits there are some pluses to sapphire, but says his company’s product is built to last.
“When it comes to visible scratch resistance, sapphire is top of the line,” he said. But introduce even slight damage or stress, and sapphire “trails Gorilla by quite a bit” in durability from that point on. “When you line up all the things that consumers are interested in, the Gorilla exceeds in more of them than any other material at this point in time.”
Toss in clear supply constraints, as evidenced by Apple and GT Advanced, and you see Corning is situated well to fend of any upstart. The company is working on additional features like sunlight legibility and curved/3D glass. As for bringing the survival rate up from 80 percent? That’s the goal for Corning. It may never get to a complete 100 percent, but Corning is working on it.
You can never account for every situation of a dropped phone. Users will inevitably drop it to the sidewalk and pick up a shattered screen.