Samsung's next phones will come with scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass Victus
Corning says its next-generation Gorilla Glass survives bigger drops and deep scratches that previously marred a phone's display.
Shara TibkenFormer managing editor
Shara Tibken was a managing editor at CNET News, overseeing a team covering tech policy, EU tech, mobile and the digital divide. She previously covered mobile as a senior reporter at CNET and also wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Shara is a native Midwesterner who still prefers "pop" over "soda."
newest generation of Gorilla Glass isn't just better at withstanding drops. It also avoids those deep scratches that mar the device's screen and body.
The new glass, called Gorilla Glass Victus, survives drops up to 2 meters (6.56 feet) onto hard, rough surfaces. Other glasses typically fail when dropped from less than 0.8 meters, and the last generation of Corning's glass, Gorilla Glass 6, withstood 1-meter drops.
When it comes to gouges, Gorilla Glass Victus is up to two times more scratch-resistant than its predecessor and up to four-times more resistant than competing aluminosilicate glasses. In other words, it takes two-times as much force to get a scratch on Victus versus Gorilla Glass 6. The new glass prevents the deep scratches found on
but not the micro-abrasions that seem to appear almost as soon as a user takes a new phone out of its box.
"For the first time, we've improved both drop and scratch," John Bayne, senior vice president and general manager for Corning's mobile consumer electronics business, said in an interview ahead of the news. "Now with people keeping their phones longer -- the average time people keep their phones is approaching 30 months, up from 24 months -- they're seeing more scratches because the phones aren't breaking."
Gorilla Glass is the ultra-strong 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. Over 8 billion devices have launched with Gorilla Glass since its first generation in 2007. Its last iteration, Gorilla Glass 6, focused on improving durability during drops.
For Victus, Corning realized that drop protection isn't enough, Bayne said. Consumers also care about visible scratches that can make it difficult to use a device.
Phones haven't changed much over the years, which has led consumers to hold onto their devices longer than before -- in the US, nearly three years instead of two. Because they've gotten more durable over the years, consumers don't have to deal with cracked screens, a common reason people upgrade their devices. While the displays may not be broken, they often have scratches, leading Corning to focus on addressing those gouges, Bayne said.
"This glass is really good for those deep lateral scratches you may get in a drop event," Bayne said. But for the tiny scratches, "we're still working on those," he added.
Consumers may hold onto their devices even longer as the novel coronavirus rages. This year was supposed to be a big year for phones, with
and foldables getting more people to upgrade. Instead, the pandemic has led to millions out of work and entire countries locked down. In the US, store closures have meant consumers haven't been able to go to carrier or electronics stores to touch devices before buying them, something that has hurt phone sales, analysts say.
When consumers are ready to upgrade, their future devices will be more durable, at least the non-foldable type. Samsung may be the first to use Gorilla Glass Victus, but it's far from the last. Apple likely will use a version of the glass in its upcoming iPhones, though Corning often makes special formulations specifically for Apple. Last year's iPhones -- the $699 iPhone 11, $999
and $1,099 11 Pro Max -- use custom Corning glass that Apple boasts is "the toughest glass ever in a smartphone."
Gorilla Glass Victus -- which means to live/survive -- can be anywhere from 1 millimeter to 0.3 or 0.4 millimeters thick, Bayne said. Device makers wanting more durability will opt for the bigger depth, but others may decide thinness is a bigger priority.
For glass to fail, there has to be a flaw and it has to be in tension, Bayne said. To avoid that, Corning has worked to boost the compression on the top layer of the glass. That makes it hard to introduce a flaw like a scratch. But if there is a flaw, it's captured in the compressive layer and doesn't spread.
"The interesting thing about glass is [it] remembers everything you did to it," Bayne said. "If you have a phone in your pocket, you drop it and you damage it, the glass remembers. So that was just waiting for the next drop event, and damage will accumulate" until it shatters.
With Gorilla Glass Victus, that memory becomes a little more wobbly -- and the phones become more durable.
Watch this: Corning brings stronger, more flexible automotive-grade Gorilla Glass to CES 2019