Gorilla Glass 4 promises to save your phone from street drops

Corning logoOn Thursday, Corning Incorporated, the creators of Gorilla Glass, unveiled the fourth generation of its thin, durable glass technology for use in smartphones, tablets, and other mobile electronics. Gorilla Glass 4 is already being advertised as "up to two times stronger" than any "competitive" mobile screen, with a specific focus on surviving everyday drops in the real world. Corning confirmed to Ars Technica that the upgraded glass will reach consumer devices "this quarter."

Global marketing director David Velasquez was unwilling to reveal "what we did to the glass to make it better," but he talked at length about one major change to the company's lab testing: a single sheet of sandpaper. After analyzing "thousands upon thousands" of screens broken in the real world, Corning confirmed that a major contributor to common breakage was dropping a phone on "rough surfaces like asphalt and concrete."

That might seem like a head-smackingly obvious issue, but Velasquez insists that the smartphone glass-making industry, which hasn't even existed for a full decade, has "no standard" for such testing. Most drop tests employ surfaces like stainless steel or granite, which replicate surfaces in a home. "The best way to approximate what asphalt does [to a phone screen] is 180-grit sandpaper," Velasquez said. That can more consistently reproduce the microscopic breakage of a rough surface than even a giant sheet of asphalt (which, Corning learned after a few tests, actually smooths out at a point of contact after a few drops).

The results are both more durable and far thinner than the prior model's thinnest 0.55mm offering. Corning's testing charts allege that GG4, at a thickness of 0.4mm, can withstand a higher mean failure load than GG3 measured at 0.7mm thickness. The newer model's durability jumps dramatically when its own thickness increases, which can go as high as 2 mm. Tests ultimately resulted in GG4 surviving 80 percent of drops of one meter, but Corning didn't clarify how thick the glass was in those results.

The news comes nearly a month after reports revealed Apple's woeful relationship with synthetic sapphire glass producer GT Advanced Technologies, but Corning's announcement didn't clarify which product manufacturers would be first to introduce Gorilla Glass 4. Velasquez would only confirm "this quarter" as a timetable, and he wasn't ready to announce device partnerships. Considering Gorilla Glass' general popularity across the smartphone and tablet spectrum, we imagine that secrecy won't last for long.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: technologies

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