Smartphone Scratches

Good news: your next smartphone will be a lot harder to scratch. Gorilla Glass Victus is the first significant improvement in scratch prevention in seven years.

It takes about two years for the team at Corning to develop each new generation of Gorilla Glass, the resilient material that graces most smartphones. That process has for several update cycles focused on protecting screens against drops, fending off shatters and cracks by boosting what’s known as compressive strength. The newly announced Gorilla Glass Victus, though, gives equal weight to preventing scratches. That’s harder than it sounds, and more useful than you’d think.

It’s not that Gorilla Glass has dismissed scratches entirely. But the last time Corning prioritized it as a threat was in Gorilla Glass 3, which came out all of seven years ago. Since then, smartphones have got much better about bouncing back from accidental drops, but handle an inadvertent key dig about the same as they did when the iPhone 5S came out.

Enter Victus, which promises double the scratch resistance of 2018’s Gorilla Glass 6. It performs better in a drop test too, surviving a 2m fall compared to its predecessor’s 1.6m durability.

The answer to “why now” is pretty straightforward; customers started asking for it more vocally. But why it became as much of a priority as drop survivability is a more interesting question. “What we think is happening is people are keeping their phones longer,” says John Bayne, who leads Corning’s Gorilla Glass business. “Phones that aren’t breaking in a drop event are coming up with a scratch on it.”

And it’s true: Apple disclosed last year that iPhone customers are upgrading less frequently. If you’re holding onto your phone for three years, that’s more time to pick up nicks and dings along the way, especially if the display survives a fall that a few years ago would have required a full screen replacement.

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