If dropping your phone and cracking the screen is your worst phone nightmare, you're not alone.
Phonemakers use chemically strengthened Gorilla Glass, shatterproof coatings and sometimes sapphire crystal toppers to help ward off cracks should your phone take a tumble. Now, one company says it's working with a phonemaker to test the first phone screen made with diamond glass.
You just have to wait until 2019.
Screen breakage is a common concern. Akhan's diamond glass uses a nanocrystal pattern that randomly arranges the crystals, instead of lining them up along their crystal planes -- that arrangement discourages deep cracks from forming and damaging the materials underneath.
Made with lab-grown diamonds, Akhan Semiconductor's Miraj Diamond Glass promises to be stronger than other materials used to cover the phone's fragile electronic display. It can be applied in conjunction with other materials, like Gorilla Glass, as a top layer.
When I first learned about diamond glass last year, Adam Khan, Akhan's CEO, promised that we'd see it in its first device by the end of 2017. We didn't.
Now, Khan says that the promising new technology is being actively tested with devicemakers, the identities of which Khan isn't ready to reveal. Akhan's partners are stress-testing the diamond glass' strength, and making sure the surface transmits electrical signals well, so your finger can navigate the touchscreen without a glitch.
Before diamond glass can come to a phone, the partners need to work out the details of production and manufacturing using a new material like diamond. They need to make sure that the diamond glass coating gets applied evenly on top of the cover material, which could be Gorilla Glass or a proprietary make.
They're also working to minimize the diamond glass' reflectance, which means how much light it bounces back at the user. Phone screens with higher reflectance are harder to read because you're interfering with glare. That prompts you to turn up the brightness to combat the glare, which then drains the phone's battery faster.
While diamond glass could come to any device with a screen, Khan says his company's only working with one vendor in each category, starting with a single phone and single aftermarket screen protector. If all goes well, it could expand into fitness bands and beyond.
2019 is a long time to wait for a phone that wants to sooth your fears of shattered glass. Don't expect it to be cheap, either. The process of making and applying lab-grown diamond to a phone's cover material comes at a cost. Expect it to debut on a pricier handset that promises a "shatterproof" screen, similar to the Motorola Moto Z2 Force, which I dropped 28 times to see if its screen would crack.
The countdown to diamond screens starts now.
Article updated 9:48am PT: Corrects spelling of Miraj Diamond Glass, from Mirage Diamond Glass.
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