Share every sharing alternatives for: Why her brand-new smartphone will certainly scratch just as conveniently as her old one


Every year, your favorite smartphone gets better specs that boost its handling speed, data security, and photo quality. However one remaining continuous is scratch resistance, which does no seem to have improved year end year.

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Most smartphones room covered through Gorilla Glass, a glass do by Corning that’s been specifically engineered to protect against drops and also other damage. But devices with that glass room still susceptible to scratches if you ar them in the same pocket as your keys and also coins. Even if you don’t, it no take long for a call to collect all kinds of scratches just from everyday use. And if complaints around the iphone phone X, Pixel 2, and other flagships from the last year are any sign, the instance has been obtaining worse, with contemporary phones scratching native the little mishandling.

So are we imagining it, or are more recent versions the Gorilla Glass much less scratch-proof than ever? if it’s difficult to speak definitively even if it is they’re getting worse, even Corning’s very own numbers show they no getting any kind of better.

The factor why has to do with both market demand and also glass’ organic qualities. Since glass can’t truly be both very drop resistant and scratch resistant, Corning and also other glass makers are compelled to pick which that those two features to prioritize. For Corning, fall resistance take away precedence.

Corning’s decision to focus on harder, crack-resistant glass dates ago the story the Gorilla Glass’ origin. Steve jobs asked Corning’s CEO to do a glass cover that would defend the iphone phone from scratches and also cracks. Before the iPhone, touchscreen smartphones provided soft plastic on optimal of your displays, which was perfect for a stylus, but terrible because that finger touch interactions. Corning only had a six-month home window to deliver the goods, and also that’s just how the first Gorilla Glass was born.

Like the initial request to produce Gorilla Glass, Corning’s goals today have actually been shame by the demands of smartphone makers. Together the Samsungs, Apples, Huaweis, and also Googles the the civilization ask because that thinner and also lighter glass, Corning in turn needs to make the thin glass more powerful to store up its drop resistance. Corning’s VP that Gorilla Glass, man Bayne, made note of the problem to Digital Trends critical December, “The number one pain point for consumers is still broken devices, for this reason we have actually prioritized drop with recent generations of Gorilla Glass.”


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Smartphones that usage Gorilla Glass 5 — the generation of glass introduced in 2016 and found top top Samsung’s Galaxy devices, the LG G7 ThinQ, and also the OnePlus 6, to surname a few — have benefited from the glass’s better resistance come taking damages from falls, as contrasted to the predecessors. And also Corning insurance claims the latest and greatest Gorilla Glass 6, which must start showing up on phones this fall, have the right to survive 15 drops indigenous a one meter height.


To achieve this strength, Corning has had actually to transform glass, which is normally fragile. By soaking glass in a chemistry salt bath, the company also introduce compressive stress right into the inside of the glass. That internal stress help counteract any drops and falls the glass might challenge in the future once integrated inside a smartphone. Over the years, together smartphone makers need thinner glass to incorporate right into sleeker phone designs, Corning has had actually to introduce an ext and more internal stress to store up the resilience. It works well in theory and has created plenty of much more drop-resistant generations, but in exchange, the interior stress renders the glass less complicated to scratch.

The main method that glass equipments strengthen glass is with tempering, which can either it is in an intense heating procedure or a chemical treatment, like the abovementioned salt bath. Together Caltech professor of products science wilhelm L. Johnson explains, the interior stress reasons the glass to yield an ext easily to any introduced anxiety on that surface. In simple terms, that method when the glass is much more tempered, it often scratches more easily. (Corning contends that tempering boosts both drop and also scratch resistance.)

Johnson claims that, ultimately, it all comes down to how tough the surface of the glass is. Tempering provides up added hardness in donate of flexibility. More tempering “makes the entirety screen much more tolerant to as whole bending, together in dropping the phone,” he says. “But that does not necessarily improve the hardness the the glass might actually do it slightly worse. That the hardness that enables scratch resistance.”


According to Corning’s very own tests, Gorilla Glass’ scrape resistance there is no improved due to the fact that 2014. While Corning claims the glass got more scratch resistant during early generations before plateauing in current ones, it switched up the tests used on the product information sheet, do it tough to compare metrics between Gorilla Glass 3, 4, 5, and also 6.

In 2013, Corning offered a “Knoop Visual scrape Test,” yet the next year, that made no point out of scratch resistance at all, so we’re can not to attract a line v the previously glass generations. “We’ve readjusted our test approaches over time, through slight sport on every test,” Corning’s VP of Gorilla Glass Scott Forester speak The Verge. “Scratch is a very complicated space. You’re no seeing a substantial degradation in scratch, but you’re see a huge improvement in drop.”


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If we were to walk by the outcomes of the Taber Test, we deserve to say the the older Gorilla Glass 3 is an ext scratch resistant 보다 4 Image: Corning
Gorilla Glass 5’s product details sheet native 2016, however, is telling. It presents three tests — the Taber Test, the Garnet Test, and the Tumble test — and their results. In the Taber Test, which procedures wear from lengthy abrasion, Gorilla Glass 3 appears visibly much less scratched than Gorilla Glass 4, and Gorilla Glass 5 looks come be somewhere in in between the two. The Garnet Test, which puts the glass up against sandpaper, presents an ext visible scratches in some locations and more faded scratches in others because that Gorilla Glass 5, making it tough to draw a identify conclusion. Gorilla Glass 3 and also 4 look an ext consistently scratched throughout.

If we were to go by the outcomes of the Taber Test, we can say the the enlarge Gorilla Glass 3 is an ext scratch resistant than 4. However once we take other contradicting results into consideration, it’s harder to draw a conclusion.


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Gorilla Glass 6 comes across more scratched up than 5 ~ above the Tumble test. Image: Corning
By focusing on photos on the product sheet, without consisting of measured outcomes that have the right to be objectively interpreted, Corning stays clear of giving concrete answer on that is product’s scratch resistance.

However, the firm has stated hard statistics in the past: according to the Tumble test from a couple of years ago, i beg your pardon tests the glass ~ a “random purse tumble” because that 15 minutes, the surface area of Gorilla Glass 3 came away 0.52 percent damaged while the surface locations of Gorilla Glass 4 and also 5 to be both 0.39 percent damaged, indicating an improvement. Corning likewise confirmed to The Verge that the number continues to be the same for Gorilla Glass 6, meaning the last two generations have actually made zero enhancements in this department.

In specific tests by Corning, the newest generation the Gorilla Glass also looks an ext scratched up than an older one. In particular, Gorilla Glass 6 look at worse 보다 5 as soon as looking in ~ this year product sheet for a test that simulates having actually coins next to the screen.

Forester, the Gorilla Glass VP, said that one test alone can’t quantify scrape resistance performance. “For scratch, there room so countless ways to test it … and different tests create different levels of damage,” he said. Once asked why Corning quit sharing tough numbers after Gorilla Glass 5, Forester said the agency chose no to due to the fact that it made the product paper look cleaner.


Forester denies the the agency has lost scratch resistance over the years, claiming that you can’t check out a difference when looking in ~ smartphones “on the macro level,” or indigenous a distance. He also points to the trade-off between thinness the glass and its durability and strength; Forester insurance claims that once Corning presents major OEMs with an ext durable glass, the feedback is always that the glass need to be thinner.

New Gorilla Glass generations might be thinner, but if they remain prone come scratches, customers are likely to buy display screen protectors that add that thickness back in anyway. And also while display protectors aren’t expensive, it deserve to be annoying because that those currently forking significantly sky high prices because that a brand-new flagship. A scratched increase screen also significantly to reduce the worth of a phone as soon as you’re trying come resell it.

Meanwhile, Corning does have actually a equipment within its very own portfolio, but the company says it won’t be prepared for sometime. Gorilla Glass SR+ and also DX+, found in the new Samsung Galaxy Watch, are new variations that glass produced smartwatches and also other wearables v a focus on scratch resistance. However, Forester says these 2 glasses face a scaling issue and also that Corning have the right to only use them because that wearables at this time.

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“We initially developed SR+ to seek the scrape resistance that sapphire. The a unique glass composite. We began out in the wearable room because that seemed favor the many applicable usage case.” If SR+ and also DX+, or maybe a future iteration of a different name, have the right to arrive ~ above smartphones, that can finally provide us the scratch-resistant phones we’re looking for.

For now, once we obtain a new phone, we’ll need to keep shelling the end for a situation to defend its sleek all-glass body and stick top top a screen protector to protect against scratches. As YouTuber JerryRigEverything, famed for his terrible phone tests, put it come The Verge: “Glass is glass, no issue what ‘variation’ the is. One variation can be slightly far better than another, but it’s all still within the exact same realm that glass.”