updated 09:00 am EDT, Thu May 23, 2013
Rsponse to rumors of Apple, others going with sapphire instead
A new test video, along with explanation and question period, shows Corning firing back at rumors that Apple and other clients may switch to using a sapphire glass cover in future products. In addition to showing that Corning's Gorilla Glass 3 is stronger and more resistant to damage, the US-based glass company says that their product is more eco-friendly, cheaper to make, and more flexible for designing products.
Apple, along with other companies, uses manufactured sapphire as a material for things like the covering of the lens on the iPhone 5, noting that it is exceptionally resistant to scratches. A recent rumor has suggested that Apple could switch to that material for other parts of the next iPhone, including the home button (in the event that Apple adds a fingerprint sensor to it).
Corning officials point out that Gorilla Glass 3 is about three times less likely to break under force than sapphire, weighs about half as much, requires 99 percent less energy to make, provides for brighter displays and costs one-tenth the price of sapphire glass. The report by Corning seems aimed more at companies other than Apple, which doesn't appear to be planning any move to more sapphire for the overall covering of future mobile devices.
The company also says that it has now reformulated Gorilla Glass to the point where it is thin enough to be used in curved displays -- which could be a key advantage if rumors of an Apple smart watch turn out to be true. Corning says it is also working on variations that can reduce reflection and thus make it easier to use in bright sunlight. The glass also incorporates anti-microbial technology, which could lead to the products' further expansion into medical equipment and other related products.
Currently, around 1.5 billion devices in circulation use some form of Gorilla Glass. The glass is strengthened with an alkali-aluminosilicate and used in some 1,000 products across 33 different companies. The Kentucky-based company has a special relationship with Apple, however, as co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs was the man who persuaded Corning to bring Gorilla Glass out of "retirement" for the original iPhone. The product has since gone on to earn Corning billions and become one of its most recognizable brands.
An executive for Corning summarized the video's findings by saying that in "one one of our commonly accepted strength tests, sapphire breaks more easily than Gorilla Glass after the same simulated use" and that sapphire's cost and environmental impact were "huge issues" compared to Gorilla Glass 3, which was introduced in January.