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How strong is Gorilla Glass 6? We sat down with Corning to talk about the future of phones

Corning recently unveiled its next-generation Gorilla Glass. It's promised to be stronger than ever and designed to balance the effects of drops from heights and numerous drops to address what we need most— phones that won't shatter when they slip out of our hands.

I spoke with Scott Forester Division Vice President of Marketing and Innovation Products at Corning about Gorilla Glass 6 and the future of glass technology.

Corning first looked at what Gorilla Glass 5 has accomplished and thought about the biggest issue with glass on phones. Though Gorilla Glass 5 out-performs from higher drops, it was counter-productive to increase the height success rate when the deeper issue lies in how often we drop our phones, not at what height we drop them from.

With our previous generation, Gorilla Glass 5, we were showing drop survivability up to 1.6 meters, so basically selfie height and 80 percent of the time in our testing the devices would survive on to rough surfaces like concrete or asphalt. With Gorilla Glass 6, we were able to raise that height even higher, but you would get kind of diminishing returns because not all of us are basketball players dropping phones from way up there.So we actually started doing consumer surveys. What we found when we did a global survey is that most people drop their phone on average about seven times a year — and about half the time they're dropping it from one meter high.So with Gorilla Glass 6, we wanted our teams to look at how we could address this particular problem — which we've all encountered, which is dropping our phones multiple times or repetitive times. With Gorilla Glass 6, in our testing, we've shown it passing or surviving 1-meter drops, on average, 15 times. Compared to Gorilla Glass 5, our 1-meter performance is about 2x better. Most competitive glasses would actually fail the first time you drop it on a rough surface from 1 meter. So we feel like we've, again, kind of raised the performance of the glass, and specifically addressed the customer issue that we hear, which is drop performance in our phones.

So, since Gorilla Glass 6 is better from less heights, but more often, does that mean it no longer meets the original standard of Gorilla Glass 5's 1.6-meter drop performance? No. It has both! It still provides the same success rate from 1.6 meters (actually a bit higher), but now it also, has a higher success rate from just 1-meter.

Gorilla Glass 6 actually raises the performance of drops from heights better than Gorilla Glass 5. In Addition to that, it gives you the continuous drops, as well. So you get the benefit on both sides of those attributes.

I know what you're all thinking. "So, why does my phone screen crack if Gorilla Glass is so great?" You're not the only one who worries about that. Forester's own kids ask him the same question.

Those are the questions we all face, right? I mean, my kids ask the same questions.If you were to bend the glass rod you would create this tensile stress on the surface of the glass. It's that tension that's going to basically separate the glass and propagate the cracks, and then eventually break. So what we do with Gorilla is, we actually put a counterforce in there called compressive stress. It's actually keeping the surface under compression and acts like an armor that's fighting against that tension you get when you drop your phone. With Gorilla Glass 6, we were actually able to put 40 percent more compressors stress into the glass surface.

Corning also takes into consideration a wide variety of different phone features, like glass thickness, whether the glass is raised above the phone significantly, how stiff is a device, what's underneath the glass (like screws or components that could create a localized bending event), and more. There are innumerable possibilities to consider when creating real-world scenarios for drop events.

There are always other real-world aspects that play into drop performance. It gets really complex, and as a user, it can be kind of frustrating.All those factors play into drop performance. In fact, if you have two phones that had exactly the same glass, exactly the same thickness, but they were designed by two different engineers with different displays or structures underneath, they performed differently. That has less to do with the glass. It just has to do with the way the phone is designed.Hopefully it kind of gives you a broader perspective of the different variables that are in play versus it just being when you drop your phone on the asphalt outside.

Corning works very hard, and for a very long time to create thousands of scenarios for drop events using what they call "pucks" as the testing material (because, you know, dropping thousands of $800 phones would be kinda expensive).

We do thousands of drops events a year. We look at those four important elements; glass thickness, how proud the glass is (how much it is raised up from the phone), how stiff the entire phone is, and whether it's a micro or localized stiffness. Then, we create a puck that we think is in the envelope — that's kind of on the average. Then we use that puck to evaluate all of our materials.

One final thing Forester mentioned to me was how glass is positioned to be an ideal material for the future. The reason? It's non-conductive, which is something metal can never be. Glass can always be made stronger.

What's interesting is, as glass has gotten more durable and able to withstand these drops, you're actually starting to see it reach a threshold where people are willing to remove the material on the back of the phone. Instead of it being metal or plastic, they'll put glass. Designers are starting to feel that glass is significantly better than previous generations. It's really broken - no pun intended - the perception of what glass can do and now.Glass is kind of on the right side of the technology curve, from a material set. 5G has these microcells — small wavelength antennas, which can interfere with things like rain and environmental conditions, and they're hypersensitive to metal. So the less metal you can put on your phone, the more flexibility you're going to have to adopt things like 5G. Glass is a really unique material set when you begin to add all those components features you don't think about every day.

Glass, it sounds like, is the future of phones and Gorilla Glass has proven its mettle at being the strongest you can put on a mobile device.

Do you think the next generation of Gorilla Glass is going to keep your phone screen from cracking as often? Has your phone avoided the dreaded cracked screen so far?

17 Comments
  • All they talk about are drops and all I care about is scratches. I have never dropped a phone, but this was the first year I ever scratched one and it was Gorilla Glass 5. And all of this Gorilla Glass 6 coverage is starting to reek of paid advertising. I don’t buy any of it. People will buy phones with Gorilla Glass 6 and they will still break easily enough. The drop/scratch tests will tell us the real truth.
  • I agree with gravage. My Pixel 2XL is the first phone in a long time I've had to put a screen protector on. After a few weeks of getting phone, I started noticing scratches on the screen. I wasn't carrying it any differently than my previous phone.
    What are they doing to prevent scratches? I accept the fact that shattered screen is way worse than a scratched screen. But scratches are still very important.
  • Agree. It is glass. They can say they did so many tests, but just like with previous versions it is going to crack in the real world. All these "tests" they do mean nothing out in the real world. Not to mention I would much rather have more scratch resistant compared to drop resistant. I put my phones in cases, so the drop does nothing for me. The GG5 was a joke in terms of how easily it scratched.
  • Gorilla Glass 3 was the best version. GG4 and GG5 sucks. They still crack if you drop it and now they scratch easily too.
  • And the tests always look like a flat drop, it's dropping on a phone corner which is the issue...
  • I am another person that is more concerned with scratches. I wish Corning was more concerned with that as well. It makes you wonder if they are "in bed" with accessory makers. "Hey Corning, make your GG so that it scratches very easily, this will force more people to buy our tempered glass screen protectors".
  • Maybe they're just thinking logically... You can add scratch resistance with a screen protector, as you said, but shatter resistance has to be part of the screen itself. It's not something you can add. Also a scratched screen is unsightly but totally usable, a cracked screen... Not so much. It makes sense when you think about it.
  • Exactly. So many people think that everything is a conspiracy these days, though.
  • Not sure what phones they are talking about but my s8 plus dropped from 12 inches onto a hard wood floor cracked the screen and the back 4 months later dropped it like 6 inches onto a metal floor and cracked the rest of it all to hellzzz
  • But an all glass phone feels so premium as I've often heard.
  • Just don't buy an s8 or s9 most fragile phones ever. Slipped out of my pocket when I pulled my pants up in the bathroom (lol) from like a foot up smashed the whole top half cause it hit the corner.. a foot high.. Samsung should be ashamed
  • Idk i dropped my s8 plus and now my s9 plus several times and has not cracked once. So it must have dropped really badly for yours to crack.
  • Cracking and shattering is only one issue. Didnt really address scratching which is equally important. It is such a pity that with todays phones looking so awesome, we need covers and screen protectors. I tried using S7 edge naked a couple of years ago, and wrecked it front and back within 2 months. Since then its covers and screen protectors all the way.
  • Oh yeah, glass is so great on the back of a phone. Let's see - it breaks, it scratches, it gets covered in fingerprints and it's slippery as hell! Can we please start a movement to push the manufacturers to each offer one top tier phone with a rubber back?
  • I haven't had a cracked screen since Gorilla Glass 2. It's the glass backs I really hate.
  • Gorilla 35 will still shatter your phone, one drop from four feet, period
  • What about better resistance to scratches? I feel like the newer phone are more « scratchable ». He says that the glass can better resist to drops but it still breaks.... and scratches more easily!