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New screen glass to make smartphone screens tougher

The next generation of iPhones may be equipped with the just-introduced Gorilla Glass 4 screen from Corning, rendering them harder to scratch or break.

Corning Gorilla Glass screens are used by Apple as well as many Android phone manufacturers. The company has researched real-world scenarios where phones are dropped face down from up to one meter up, and figured out how to to make them more durable.

The new Gorilla Glass 4 is “up to two times tougher than competitive glasses,” surviving nearly 80 percent of the time, according to a statement from Corning. By contrast, soda-lime glass in current devices, “breaks nearly 100 percent of the time.”

“Corning Gorilla Glass has outperformed competing materials such as soda-lime glass and other strengthened glass, since it was introduced in 2007, and we’re always innovating to push the limits of what glass can do,” said James R. Steiner, senior vice president and general manager, Corning Specialty Materials. “With Gorilla Glass 4, we have focused on significantly improving protection against sharp contact damage, which is the primary reason that mobile devices break. Dropping and breaking a phone is a common problem, and one that our customers have asked us to help address.”

While speculation that Apple’s latest iPhone versions would have sapphire screens, they instead use Corning’s Gorilla Class 3. Sapphire screens are unlikely in future versions of the smartphone because Apple and its sapphire supplier have had a falling out, according to Business Insider.

Sapphire is one of the hardest materials in the world –with only diamond stronger – and its use would make the screens virtually scratch-proof. However, some experts consider Corning’s Gorilla Glass to be less likely to crack.