Corning’s Gorilla Glass is one of the most recognized components used to help protect smartphones against the perils of everyday life. Typically, each new generation of Gorilla Glass comes with improved durability against either drops or scratches, but not both. However, for its newest formula of Gorilla Glass—Gorilla Glass Victus—Corning promises that’s about to change.
If you look back at previous versions of Gorilla Glass, Corning was usually forced to focus on just one aspect of its durability. For example, Gorilla Glass 3 was touted as showing 40% fewer scratches than Gorilla Glass 2, but on its fourth-gen glass, Corning said Gorilla Glass 4 was twice as strong when it came to surviving drops. So in general, Corning has used a sort of back-and-forth development cycle when to comes to improving Gorilla Glass.
The big problem for Corning is that the harder you make something—to better protect against scratches—the more brittle the material becomes, which would make it more prone to shattering when dropped. Conversely, when you try to make something more flexible or better able with withstand shocks and vibrations, its hardness tends to go down. On top of that, after asking buyers for feedback, Corning found that most people didn’t really distinguish between drop and scratch protection, and simply wanted something that was proficient in both areas.
So on Gorilla Glass Victus, Corning is attempting to do just that. The company claims that Victus offers significant improvement in both drop and scratch performance over the previous generation for the first time ever. Compared to Gorilla Glass 6, Corning says Gorilla Glass Victus is two times more scratch-resistant and 25% stronger when it comes to drops. Corning says Gorilla Glass Victus has been tested to withstand drops from up to 6.5 feet onto hard, rough surfaces without breaking, compared to Gorilla Glass 6, which is only rated to handle drops of up to 5.25 feet.
While all this sounds really good in theory, based on sheer number of phones with broken screens I saw every day before the pandemic put people in quarantine, Corning’s newest Gorilla Glass has some pretty big claims to live up to. Although the company’s test claims sound impressive, based on some of the sample images provided by Corning, its test devices appear to be using glass that’s much thicker than what you’d find on an actual retail device. [Note: Corning reached out to let us know that the test devices used Victus glass that was 0.6 to 0.8mm thick, which is similar the thickness of glass used on retail phones.]
But with more and more phones featuring glass panels on both the front and back of the device, and device makers using glass in the designs of other gadgets like smartwatches, tablets, and laptops, there’s even more of a need for glass that doesn’t need to be perpetually swaddled in a case to prevent it from breaking.
[Update: 1:30 PM ET] Following this morning’s announcement of Gorilla Glass Victus, I had a chance to talked with Corning vice president Scott Forester who revealed a few interesting details about Corning’s latest product.
The first is that despite using a more sophisticated manufacturing process, Victus’ improved scratch resistance results in higher yields, which means that the cost for device makers to include Victus on devices is about the same as it was for Gorilla Glass 6. Hopefully that means featuring Victus in premium devices won’t actually result in a direct price increase for future devices.
Additionally, because glass is a better conductor of heat than plastic, Forester said many device makers are using more glass in 5G phones as a way to help dissipate the extra heat produced by 5G modems. So for all you hoping to see a greater number of phones with plastic backs, I wouldn’t hold your breath too long, at least not in the near future.
Finally, Forester mentioned that Samsung will be the first device maker to release a product with Gorilla Glass Victus. Unfortunately, he did not name a specific device or when said device would go on sale, but the timing of Corning’s announcement just weeks ahead of Samsung’s next Unpacked Event could be a big hint that Gorilla Glass Victus will make its consumer debut at Samsung’s showcase in early August.