Gone are the days when you could virtually break everything with your Nokia phone, phones have evolved to become much more useful and definitely more beautiful. To add that beauty element glass has played a crucial role – but glass is glass and glass can break. Thanks to Corning Gorilla glass for letting our smartphones look more elegant and modern.
Now with so many companies touting their phones to have Gorilla glass it is worth taking a deeper dive.
What is Corning Gorilla glass and how is it different?
Gorilla glass was made by Corning Inc. Before making Gorilla glass, Corning was producing scratch resistant glasses for household items, cars, ophthalmic devices etc.
It started producing Gorilla glass in 2005 by the ion exchange process. Normal glass is made up of three materials which are Sio2 (Silicon dioxide), limestone (CaCO3), and sodium carbonate (Na2CO3). These materials are mixed in specific proportion and heated to make the ordinary glass. Our gorilla glass is basically the same thing with a little twist. The sodium ion in the ordinary glass is replaced by Potassium ion with the help of ion exchange process. Potassium also has the same basic chemical properties but potassium ion is slightly larger in size. If you look the ordinary glass at microscopic level, you could see the sodium ions being trapped in layers of other atoms. Now during the ion exchange process potassium ions takes their place and the whole structure becomes more compact. This makes the gorilla glass more resistant to scratches and durable.
So let’s see how gorilla glass got better with each iteration and how are they different from each other:
Gorilla glass 1
Gorilla glass 1 was slightly more stronger and resistant to scratches than the ordinary glass. It made its debut in the iPhone 4 in 2007 and it also had an oleophobic coating to prevent fingerprint and smudges. Though it was not limited to iPhones only even in their first generation and was present in over 250 devices.
Gorilla glass 2
This generation made the gorilla glass 20% thinner and it could now withstand 50 kg of pressure in lab conditions. Though it was just as scratch resistant as the previous generation.
It protected displays of over 600 million devices. This time some other major companies like Google and Samsung adopted it in their Nexus and S lineup respectively.
Gorilla glass 3
This version of gorilla glass was introduced in CES 2013. This iteration took the scratch resistance to a whole new level with the introduction of NDR (Native Damage Resistance). According to Corning it was three times more damage resistant than its predecessor. It also had reduced scratch visibility, and better retained strength once a scratch does occur.
Notable smartphones with gorilla glass 3 were the Samsung Galaxy S4, Moto G, and the Moto X.
Gorilla glass 4
This version doesn’t make it too many devices, but it was an important version since the company changed the main objectives of gorilla glass. A survey which revealed 70% of all screen damages were due to drops. This led to changing their goal post to make their glasses more drop resistant rather than being more scratch resistant. This version was 2 times stronger than the Gorilla glass 3, but don’t think it to be unbreakable. Far from it. It was introduced in the Galaxy Note 5 and Asus Zenfone 2 Laser.
Gorilla glass 5
In this iteration Corning was even more inclined towards making it even more drop resistant. This was in fact 4 times stronger than its predecessor. Company claims were that it can survive drops from up to 1.6m height. Though I will recommend not to go by company claims, since laboratory experiments and real life is completely different. It was present in many famous phones released this year and the last year as well like the Pixel 3.
Gorilla glass 6
This is the latest version of Gorilla glass and it was introduced in 2018. Corning claims it to be 2 times more resistant to drops. As the previous generation it can survive drops from 1.6m but this time for 15 consecutive drops. As always I will recommend not going by their claims, but it is more drop resistant than ever.
One important thing to mention is that with the change in the objective of Gorilla glass, there is a striking difference between the Gorilla glass 3 and Gorilla glass 5 or 6.
Gorilla glass 3 vs 5 or 6
Though the Gorilla glass 5 or 6 is more drop resistant but it significantly reduced the resistance to scratches. It made it even less scratch resistant than the Gorilla glass 3.
So to sum up Gorilla glass 3 is more scratch resistant but provides lesser resistance to drops. Gorilla glass 5 or 6 provides more drop resistance but is more prone to scratches.
Now you may ask that is there any solution which provides ultimate scratch resistance and drop resistance as well?
Sapphire might be the answer
If you want only the aforementioned features in your screen then yes Sapphire is the answer. It has a hardness level of 9 on Mohs scale of hardness and it cannot be scratched even with quartz (commonly found in sand). There are also some phones with sapphire screen like the HTC U Ultra.
But there are quite a few disadvantages of using sapphire.
The first being the sapphire screens are not as vibrant as the OLEDs or LCDs and this is the main reason why Apple has still not introduced in their smartphones.
It is not flexible enough to be used in phones with curved edged screens like in the Galaxy S or Note series.
It seriously adds up to the weight of the phone which I think will not be liked by many.
So till sapphire comes to our smartphone displays without any major disadvantages Corning Gorilla glass is our only option to make our phones look as elegant while still providing some damage resistance.