Corning’s “Gorilla Glass” – that currently fronts Apple’s iPhone, among other smartphones, could be set to get a boost in its scratch-resistance properties. That’s because the company announced this weekend that it is already working on a new material that could offer close to the level of protection as Sapphire crystal does.
“The developmental Gorilla Glass-like composite, currently dubbed Project Phire, was announced Friday at a New York investor meeting by Corning executive James Clappin,” CNET reports, adding that while Clappin revealed the company will begin selling the material “later this year,” the company provided “few other details.”
Using sapphire-level materials to improve scratch resistance is all well and good – but it doesn’t get away from the fact that using these materials is both expensive, and generally less shatter-proof.
We already know that certain models of the Apple Watch will carry a sapphire crystal layer, that will top the wrist device’s (relatively small) display.
“Next to diamond,” Apple says, “sapphire is the hardest transparent material on earth.” “That makes it ideal for protecting the [Apple Watch’s] Retina display,” the company highlights.
The addition of the material is expected to contribute a considerable amount to the device’s starting price of $349 – although again, Apple is keeping “mom” on exactly which model of the watch this price will relate.
It’s a potentially different story, though, deploying a sapphire-level material on the face of the iPhone. Arguably, Apple’s iPhone already has a high base price (unsubsidised). Adding Phire Glass to the iPhone display’s surface area in the future may see this price increase, somewhat.
Parts of this intensive process are revealed by Apple, itself, in its description of the material’s future use in the production of Apple Watch:
“To harvest the crystal, we use a very thin diamond-cutting wire. The sapphire is then precision-machined into its final form and polished for many hours to produce the desired finish,” claims the firm.
On the introduction of Phire, Clappin said:
“We told you last year that sapphire was great for scratch performance but didn’t fare well when dropped,” […] “So, we created a product that offers the same superior damage resistance and drop performance of Gorilla Glass 4 with scratch resistance that approaches sapphire.”
Now fronting about 3 billion electronics, Corning’s Gorilla Glass is becoming a force in itself – and while not yet available for purchase, Phire Glass provides just a glimpse at what the future could hold for device protection.
/ Image Credit: Engadget