Corning, the manufacturer of the glass on your smartphones has unveiled its latest version of Gorilla Glass. Tagged Gorilla Glass 5, the new glass was formulated to improve drop performance from gadgets that are dropped onto rough surfaces from certain heights — specifically, waist height to shoulder height.
The new glass is the successor to Corning Gorilla Glass 4, which was introduced in 2014. Gorilla Glass 4 was said to be twice as tough as the previous version of its glass and twice as likely to survive drops onto uneven surfaces — but only from about a meter high.
A research by Corning showed that 85 percent of smartphone owners have dropped their phones at least once in the past year, and that two-thirds of those drops happening from waist height to shoulder height. So while previous versions of the Glass may have been strong, it was not necessarily as durable if you dropped your phone while pulling it from your pocket or while taking a photo. And rough surfaces are particularly brutal for delicate smartphones, so much of Corning’s research and development of the new glass involved drops on rough surfaces and sharp contact damage.
However, there are a few warnings to these claims around the new Gorilla Glass. The first is that the 80 percent survival rate Corning achieved in tests was with pieces of glass that were 0.6mm thick. Corning now makes glass as thin as 0.4mm, so smartphone OEMs that opt for thinner glass or go with more rigid smartphone designs may see different results.
What will define the performance of the overall device on those types of corner drops is stiffness of the phone design, but also how the glass is packaged, Bayne said. Much of this is dependent on what’s known as the “proudness” of the glass, which refers to how high above the phone the glass sits. If it sits up really high, we call that a proud design. If it is protected by the bezel of the design then, it is – not proud. So if you have a device that has a proud design, that one would not perform as well as one that had a different design. And as we go to 3D designs, the edge is more exposed … and you have to be sensitive to that, said John Bayne, Corning’s Vice President and General Manager.
Gorilla Glass first started showing up in consumer electronics devices in 2007. Since then it has iterated on the glass to improve overall durability and scratch-resistance while also making it thinner. At the time Gorilla Glass first shipped, global smartphone penetration was only around 10 percent; now it is nearly 75 percent. Corning says 4.5 billion device units have been shipped with its glass to date. Manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, Lenovo, Huawei, LG, HP, and Asus have all made devices using the glass, along with other unnamed device makers.
Gorilla Glass 5 is in production but it is expected to hit the market in the next few months.