A conversation with Corning: What are the challenges of making strong glass?

Corning this week unveiled Gorilla Glass Victus 2, the sequel to Victus 2020 (and last year’s Victus+). The goal of this generation is to improve drop performance, i.e. increase the chances of the phone falling with the glass intact. Rough surfaces such as asphalt and especially concrete present a major challenge.

We caught up with Scott Forester, Divisional Vice President and Business Manager, Corning Glass Operations Council, to learn about the latest developments in tempered glass manufacturing. Apparently, “difficulty” is a moving target, because phones themselves are changing.


Modern glass should be able to withstand a 2-meter drop (Credit: Corning)

Over the past four years, smartphones have grown an average of 15% by weight and 10% by volume. Weight and size determine the force of impact when a phone is dropped and how that force is distributed through the glass of the display and the body of the phone.

Size is dictated by market demand, with phones with larger screens outperforming compact devices. Big, thin phones tend to bend a lot, which can negatively affect the glass that protects the front and back.


Drop test Victus 2 glass on 80 grit sandpaper (simulating concrete)

The extra weight is partly due to having a larger phone. That’s not all, the bigger battery is also heavier. Additionally, manufacturers have switched from plastic to aluminum and even steel for phone frames, both of which are heavier than plastic (and especially steel).

It’s not bad, though, and the metal makes the frame stiffer, reducing pressure on the glass when the phone hits the ground. Corning works with manufacturers to optimize the internal structure of the phone to make it more durable. You can watch this video Years ago, this demonstrated the importance of properly supporting glass.

Sometimes, the company even collects broken phones from users and examines them to determine why the glass broke—knowledge that’s used to make the next generation better. The team found that the screens cracked most of the time on rough surfaces, with concrete and asphalt being the most common rough surfaces users encounter in their daily lives.


Concrete and asphalt are the most common rough surfaces

Bigger phones aren’t the only trend, curved screens are also popular. We asked whether they were more susceptible to damage — apparently, it doesn’t make much difference whether the impact is on the front of the phone or the curved side. Also, a well-designed rigid frame can save a lot of glass.

There is another connection between smartphone batteries and glass. Corning wanted to keep the reflectivity low to avoid glare. If ambient light is overwhelming the screen, the immediate fix is ​​to turn up the brightness. But this wastes energy, which is bad for battery life, and not good for glass since it could mean a bigger and heavier battery.

We also asked about screen protectors. Corning has nothing against them, but Forester told us phones with Gorilla Glass are designed to survive without extra protection, so you don’t need a protector.

This is especially true for phones arriving in the coming months due to the increased survivability of Gorilla Glass Victus 2. Exactly which phones are unknown and unofficial. But you can use a phone finder to make an educated guess.

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