When it comes to foldable smartphones, majority consumer will ask whether the screen was made from Plastic or Glass? Plastic feels less premium, but today’s glass screen are more likely to break than comfortably flex when you bend them. But maybe, Plastic short comeback to the industry will not be for long.
Corning, the company behind the Gorilla Glass screen adorning most of the world’s phones — is developing bendable glass at its headquarters in New York.
The Next Innovative Move: Bendable Glass
As the foldable phone fad tops the trend list of 2019, there are potential for every company that makes mobile phone parts, to become involved in the new phone design and innovate suitable parts. The foldable phone design may not be as revolutionary from 4G to 5G network, but it could help rekindling the innovation from the same-old rectangular formula for modern smartphone.
A phone that can fold, and a glass screen along with it, doesn’t just add to the luxury. It also extends what you can do on a mobile phone. Instead of one big screen, you have two to use in various configurations. Open it up completely and you get a screen the size of the tablet in a fold-up shape the size of your usual phone.
Samsung, Huawei and LG have all announced their intention to make foldable phones in 2019. And while OLED screens have been flexible, this type of display won’t work unless the screens are covered with similarly twisty glass — which is exactly why Corning continues to push the limit on how much glass can bend. Corning’s ultrathin bendable glass is still in development, but it can fold almost in half.
“To go to a tight bend radius, you have to go to a glass that’s much, much thinner than what you have today, and some of the glass we have in our laboratory is thinner than a human hair,” said Polly Chu, Corning’s technology director.
Corning’s ultrathin bendable glass is about 0.1mm thin and can bend almost in half like a piece of paper to a 5mm radius. It is actually not the first bendable glass, but it’s a lot thinner and a lot more flexible than the Willow glass Corning that was developed a few years back.
Plastic is also being considered as a potential cover material for foldable phone displays, but unlike plastic, which is prone to scratching, creasing and changing color over time, Corning says its glass will retain its color and structure.
“If you look at what people demand on their smartphones today, scratch resistance, drop resistance, good optical properties, great tactile feel … I think glass will probably overtake plastic as the material of choice for cover material,” said John Bayne, vice president at Corning Gorilla Glass.
Corning’s glass is still in development, which means you won’t find it on any foldable devices yet and it may roll out slowly. The Royole FlexPai, which is due to start shipping in December, uses a plastic material to cover its screen while Samsung is rumored to be using a similarly transparent polyimide alternative for at least part of its phone.