Gorilla Glass 6: How Future iPhones Could Protect Against Multiple Drops
Smartphone glass is getting tougher. Glass manufacturing firm Corning announced on Wednesday the launch of Gorilla Glass 6, the latest version of the glass used in over six billion devices including every single iPhone. The new iteration makes braking even less likely than ever, with a new design aimed at specifically protecting against multiple drops.
Corning’s glass is created in a fusion draw process, where the glass is created in mid-air suspension by pouring raw materials like pure sand into a melting tank heated at 1,000 degrees Celsius. It’s then run through an ion strengthening process that pushes potassium ions to the surface to create a tougher layer. Gorilla Glass 6 uses a new material composition to boost this strength, which survived 15 drops from one meter high onto a rough surface, double the performance of the last generation and better than competing brands that didn’t survive the first drop.
The iPhone is a likely contender for Corning’s new glass. Apple has used the glass maker for every phone since the original that launched in 2007, after CEO Steve Jobs convinced the firm to meet the challenge so Apple could ditch the plastic screens prevalent on phones at the time. The partnership appeared in jeopardy in 2014 as Apple agreed to a $139 million deal with GT Advanced Technologies to produce synthetic sapphire. The latter firm failed to meet performance requirements, though, leading to GT declaring bankruptcy. Dave Velasquez, Corning’s director of marketing and commercial ops, later told Cult of Mac that compared with sapphire, Gorilla Glass is “clearly the best material to use.”
The new glass focuses on protecting against multiple drops. The company cited research from Toluna that showed people drop their devices seven times per year, with more than half of drops occurring at one meter or shorter. With new phones like the iPhone X and 8 shipping with glass on the front and rear of the device, plus the curved edges that make the glass seem as if it’s blending into the edges, the glass needed to stand up to repeated drops.
Corning claims that multiple companies are currently evaluating Gorilla Glass 6, and it’s expected to hit shelves “in the next several months.” The company tells Inverse that it is working with a number of device manufacturers, and announcements are expected in the near future.