Klutzes, rejoice. Your next smartphone should be able to survive multiple drops.
On Wednesday, glass maker Corning unveiled its newest technology, Gorilla Glass 6, which it says should survive repeated drops from heights of 1 meter (3.28 feet). In its tests, the glass lasted through 15 drops, twice as many as Gorilla Glass 5. Normal glass failed on the first drop, company executives said during a press event at Corning's new Sunnyvale, California, technology center.
To consumers, Corning is probably best known for its Pyrex glassware in the kitchen. But it's also a major supplier of glass displays for smartphones, TVs and other electronics. Phones from Apple and Samsung use Corning's latest technologies, and since the initial launch of Gorilla Glass in 2007, 6 billion devices have hit the market with it.
Gorilla Glass is the ultrastrong glass that prevents your phone display from getting all scratched up when it's dropped in your purse or shoved in your pocket. And it's built to resist drops and other damage.
Corning has released new versions of Gorilla Glass nearly every two years since its introduction. The last iteration, Gorilla Glass 5 from 2016, became more resistant and durable for human-height drops of up to 1.6 meters (5 feet, 2 inches) based on Corning's tests. That made it almost four times more resistant than regular, unstrengthened glass, the company said at the time.
The next focus for Corning has been preventing glass from breaking when a device was dropped multiple times. People drop their phones about seven times a year, according to study from Toluna that was cited by Corning. About half of those drops occurred at 1 meter or below.
To improve cover glass performance, Corning scientists developed and engineered an entirely new material to address the challenge of multiple drops. On average, in lab tests, Gorilla Glass 6 survived 15 drops from 1 meter onto rough surfaces, and is up to two times better than Gorilla Glass 5. Under the same test conditions, competitive glass compositions, such as soda lime and aluminosilicate, did not survive the first drop.
Corning developed a new composition for Gorilla Glass 6 to deal with the multiple drops issue, Josh Jacobs, a Corning tech manager overseeing Gorilla Glass product performance and reliability, said during Wednesday's event.
So when will you see Gorilla Glass 6 in phones? Likely soon. Corning said it's "currently being evaluated by multiple customers" and should hit the market in the next several months.
First published July 18 at 10:40 a.m. PT.
Update at 12:26 p.m. PT: Adds details.
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