Why are smartphones scratching so easily?

A central component of our smartphones, the screen is continuously exposed to the hazards of everyday life. At the price where some terminals are sold, it is surprising how fast the glass is scratched. But that is not necessarily bad news for its long-term resistance.

Formerly reserved for high-end, the use of materials such as glass or aluminium has become widespread. But look around, in transport or on the street, and see the number of fractured screens you come across.

Using an object, most of which is made of glass, sometimes even on both sides, is exposing itself to this kind of damage in the event of an unexpected fall on a sidewalk or a tile floor.

Stripe or break: you have to choose!

A statement is needed, however, on the latest generation of smartphones, including high-end without even carrying them in a pocket next to his keys; they are scratched very easily. And at the same time, manufacturers are touting their sustainability.

So, is there some dishonesty in these statements?

Not necessarily. It must be understood that glass is a double-edged material, without pun intended. We can emphasise its scratch resistance or make it more flexible and less subject to breakage, qualities that are found in the tempered glass. Both, on the other hand, are hard to reach and the smartphone glass manufacturers have to offer the best compromise.

To add a variable to the already complicated equation, manufacturers are demanding from their suppliers, including Corning and Gorilla Glass, more and more fine and light materials. The current generations of Gorilla Glass, by the manufacturer’s admission, have instead regressed on scratch resistance.

On the other hand, smartphones like the iPhone XR, the OnePlus 6T or the LG G7 ThinQ may have a better chance of surviving their tiling. At least under ideal conditions, many “crash tests” have come to the end of recent models, from the most serious ones like Consumer Reports to the craziest ones who have fun testing the reaction of a telephone to the assault of a Japanese sword.

There is still a glimmer of hope to find a more acceptable compromise. Even on the Corning side, the Gorilla Glass SR +, used in particular for the Samsung Galaxy Watch, visibly offers the resistance that made the reputation of the manufacturer, while ensuring protection against scratches closer to the sapphire crystal which is a reference in the matter. The process nevertheless seems complicated to implement on a large scale. Will salvation come from foldable screens?

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