vacancies advertise contact news tip The Vault
facebook rss twitter

Corning's 'Project Phire' scratch-resistant glass takes on sapphire

by Mark Tyson on 9 February 2015, 11:35

Tags: PC

Quick Link: HEXUS.net/qacot6

Add to My Vault: x

Corning is developing an innovative new Gorilla Glass-like material that has the potential to becoming a serious 'sapphire' competitor. Dubbed 'Project Phire', the new material "combines the toughness of Gorilla with a scratch-resistance that comes close to sapphire", according to CNET's Ben Fox Rubin.

The company's Gorilla Glass displays currently cover the front of more than 3 billion devices, including handsets from mobile tech giants such as Samsung and Apple. Even with this huge market dominance, it would seem that Corning's presence is under threat to rival sapphire technology. Considered to be one of the hardest transparent materials on Earth, sapphire glass is causing Corning concerns as its rising popularity looks to replace the hardened glass used by some of Corning's most important customers.

"We told you last year that sapphire was great for scratch performance but didn't fare well when dropped," said James Clappin, president of Corning Glass Technologies, at a New York investor meeting. "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."

It is not surprising that whilst sapphire is shaping up to be the next big thing in terms of screen protection, Corning's new development aims to counter the growth of this expensive yet more shatter-prone material. Teased just a few months after unveiling Gorilla Glass 4, the firm's toughest glass yet, this even more durable product touts scratch protection that could compete with sapphire, whilst bearing the drop durability of its own GG4. It looks like Project Phire is nearly ready to take back some of the business Corning has lost to sapphire, hoping to become more widely used in heavy-duty flagship phones and smartwatches.

Unfortunately, there's not much technical information about Corning's technology at this point, we only know that it is set to start selling from later this year. Therefore we will have to wait and see whether it will affect the overall price of upcoming handsets. It is also unclear whether Project Phire will be marketed as Gorilla Glass 5 or be a distinct product line. The company currently advertises that its Gorilla Glass 4 is up to two times tougher than competitive glass and will survive drops onto rough surfaces up to 80 per cent of the time. With elevated scratch-resistance, the new material could aid the firm in snagging more of the smartwatch market.

Perhaps with Project Phire more smartphone users will have the confidence to enjoy a screen-protector free, naked touchscreen experience?

A reminder of the durability of Gorilla Glass 4



HEXUS Forums :: 10 Comments

Login with Forum Account

Don't have an account? Register today!
Ill believe it when I see it… last 3 generations of gorilla glass have screamed about being tougher but the tests they show are not real world impacts as they slowly apply more pressure to the centre of the glass and compare it the previous gen which broke at a lower pressure… its not a tangible improvement as pressure does NOT gradually increase when you drop a phone and it certainly does not hit the centre of the display, I have found all generations of the gorilla glass to be similar apart from the scratch resistance is improving.

Need an alternative really…
Hicks12
the tests they show are not real world impacts as they slowly apply more pressure to the centre of the glass and compare it the previous gen which broke at a lower pressure… its not a tangible improvement as pressure does NOT gradually increase when you drop a phone and it certainly does not hit the centre of the display

I'm guessing you didn't actually watch the video?

Either way, that test doesn't look particularly ‘real world’, no one actually drops their phone PERFECTLY flat on its face.
Didnt actually see a video in the article must not have loaded for me, have watched it now and it does look like a much better test later on but again I reserve judgement till the actual devices come out with it :P. The test before that they used at CES and everything marketing related was the first pressure machine you saw in the video which is useless :P
I notice they explicitly avoid comparing its performance against the last gen of Gorilla Glass, which doesn't inspire much confidence TBH. ‘Survives real-world drops twice as often … as competitive glass’. So… which competitive glass?

Though one thing is at least sapphire matches silicon carbide (sand) on the Mohs scale. It's something that's always made me laugh, they show how impressive their special glass is by showing how a (comparatively very soft) iron nail fails to scratch the screen, yet some grit in your pocket will have no trouble scratching it…

Heck, even standard unhardened glass is harder than iron!

TBH though a lot of the trouble with drop breaks can be solved with case design e.g. using polymers rather than glass or metals for the back/sides and have the screen recessed a bit. Weirdly though the more fragile materials are often seen as synonymous with ‘expensive’ or ‘quality’.
The thing with these drop tests though is reliability/reproducibility.

You can take 2 identical phones and drop them from very different heights and the one falling the shortest distance might break when the other doesn't.

I find it's more about angles and luck. I have seen people with broken HTC One m7 screens who say they hardly dropped them, yet my m7 got slammed in a car door so hard that the case cracked and bent…but the screen didn't have a scratch on it!

As with so many things, the devil is in the detail.