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[Image above] Perhaps this looks all too familiar? Credit: Clifford Joseph Kozak; Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


You know that sinking feeling you get when your smartphone slips out of your hand like a buttered fish and hurtles toward the hardest and roughest surface around? The anxiety you feel as you pick up your few-hundred-dollar device with winced face and gingerly turn it over to see if the glass screen remains intact?

Corning Incorporated is on a mission to nix that feeling from your repertoire. The company unveiled the latest and toughest version of its infamous Gorilla Glass yesterday, and the new Gorilla Glass 4 promises to be two times tougher than any competitive cover glass on the market.

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Credit: Corning

According to an ABC News article, 30% of Americans damage their iPhones in a single year, and one in 10 is currently using a phone with a cracked screen. Smartphone repair is a big business, one that Americans have spent, in total, about $13 billion on. (If you’re like me, you just read that again—$13 billion, really?!)

Broken smartphone screens—mostly the result of drops, spills, flips, tumbles, and fumbles—are consumers’ top concern, according to Corning. So the company sought a solution.

To be able to accurately put their products to the test, Corning devised specialized tech torture protocols that mimic the abuse smartphones get in the real world.

According to the Corning press release, “Corning scientists examined hundreds of broken devices and found that damage caused by sharp contact accounted for more than 70 percent of field failures.”

In the lab, that abuse translates to dropping from specialized testing equipment that poises the phones one long meter off the ground—and drops them right onto a sandpaper-covered landing. Ouch. See the carnage in action in the short video below.

 Credit: Corning® Gorilla® Glass; YouTube

But Corning’s new fusion-drawn Gorilla Glass 4 can withstand the abuse. In addition to being at least two times tougher, the new glass also survived up to 80% of falls, in comparison to soda-lime glass, which “breaks nearly 100% of the time,” says Corning.

“Corning Gorilla Glass has outperformed competing materials, such as soda-lime glass and other strengthened glass, since it was introduced in 2007, and we’re always innovating to push the limits of what glass can do,” says James R. Steiner, senior vice president and general manager of Corning Specialty Materials, in the release. “With Gorilla Glass 4, we have focused on significantly improving protection against sharp contact damage, which is the primary reason that mobile devices break. Dropping and breaking a phone is a common problem, and one that our customers have asked us to help address.”

Corning says that more than 40 manufacturers have used Gorilla Glass to date in the design of 1,395 total product models (full list of them here), for a total of 3 billion devices featuring Gorilla Glass since its introduction in 2007.

We hope it won’t be long before we see the tougher version four incorporated into new devices—the company says that “product sampling and shipment for Gorilla Glass 4 are under way with Corning’s global customers.”

For more info on Gorilla Glass 4’s specs, check out the product sheet. Or for more information about how Corning makes Gorilla Glass with its proprietary fusion-draw process, head over here.

Set smartphones to indestruction.

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Corning’s tech torture device. Credit: Corning