If you want to know why Corning made Gorilla Glass Victus 2, the new protective glass the company unveiled today, you can thank (or blame) your big, fat phone.

When Corning started making shatterproof glass 15 years ago and began testing mobile devices, the benchmark was 160g, which was more than the original iPhone, which weighed 135g. Compare that to the iPhone 14 Pro, which weighs 206g, the iPhone 14 Pro Max, which weighs 240g, or the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, which weighs 228g.

Gorilla Glass vice president and general manager David R. Velasquez told me this week that modern smartphones now have a lot more technology (better cameras, more sensors, bigger batteries) and are heavier and more dense than smartphones. that Corning originally tested.

Now the reference is 200g. That's still a long way from the weight of the latest phones, but weight isn't the only part of Corning's testing methodology that has changed, and more importantly, Gorilla Glass isn't the same either.

Victus 2 is a new formulation of Gorilla Glass. When asked for details, Velásquez confirmed that it was different from the original Victus, which was introduced two years ago, but added: "That's better, that's all the detail I can give."

The result is thinner glass that resists scratches just as well but performs better when broken.

Corning, however, changed its testing methodology. After years of dropping thousands of phones from heights of 1m and 2m onto simulated asphalt surfaces (sandpaper representing the roughness of the surface with metal underneath), Corning added simulated concrete. I guess they finally figured out that we dumped just as many phones on the sidewalk as we did on the street.


(Image credit: Corning)

With "concrete" Corning tests Gorilla Glass Victus 2 at 1M and still uses "asphalt" to test at 2M. The difference is not so much the hardness as the irregularity of the surfaces. To demonstrate this, Corning sent me a sheet embedded with two sandpaper squares with a roughness designed to simulate both surfaces. "Concrete" is much rougher to the touch.

It's not just the bigger phones that complicate Corning's job. Velásquez reminded me that there was a time when protecting glass screens was relatively easier.

“Back then, before there were any shaped pieces of glass, most of the design work was on phone frames. The iPhone 4 was the first time glass was lifted, a big change and much more prone to breakage," he said.

These days, phones like the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra, Google Pixel 7 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro seem to be almost all glass. I think Corning knows how to make a phone that may never break, but the collaboration between the glass coating company and the phone maker doesn't work that way.

(Image credit: Corning)

“Equipment manufacturers often come to see us [and say], 'This is what we're releasing in 3, 5 years. Can you do it in glass? If so, what are the design considerations? Velasquez explained.

What follows are conversations and even some tweaking of molecules and how they are designed to strengthen glass.

Velasquez was quick to add that phone makers don't get custom-made glass products. However, understanding where phone makers are headed may affect what types of glass (perhaps even Victus 2) Corning produces now and in the future.

While Gorilla Glass Victus 2 is stronger than Victus 1, Corning has no control over how phone manufacturers use it.

“Most phone companies use this much higher quality glass and make it thinner. Phones can never be thin enough or have a more aggressive design,” Velásquez said.

Can you double it?

Speaking of aggressive designs, I had to ask about flexible glass. Corning doesn't have a foldable product at the moment, but the future is another story.

Velásquez confirmed that Corning is in “extensive discussions with all major customers about where to go. Some are more advanced than others. »

The company hopes to launch it within the next two years, but couldn't share much more about its plans. Still, Velasquez says Corning is very excited about flexible glass.

“The really nice thing about partnering with customers to enable flexible designs is that it's very, very difficult to have glass that bends and touches. This is one of the most difficult problems you can imagine. Corning tends to excel where the problem is really difficult. Our scientist loves to sink his teeth into this.

For now, though, Corning and its partners are rubbing their teeth against Gorilla Glass Victus 2, which is nearly unbreakable and just as hard to scratch. The OEMs have the glass samples and there are "designs in progress" already. Valesquez expects "announcements from some of our partners in the next three months"

In the meantime, we are waiting for a truly unbreakable smartphone glass. Corning is working on it, but Velasquez told me, "Not yet, but I'm going to keep fighting this fight."

If you're looking for phones with Corning's current version of Gorilla Glass Victus, there's no better place to start than our best phones of 2022.

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