When you’re talking about making smartphone displays that are durable enough to withstand the hell we put our phones through on a day-to-day basis, there’s no name bigger than Corning. Its various iterations of Gorilla Glass over the years have protected many a smartphone, but lately the conversation’s been moving from what we can do to toughen-up glass, to what other glass-like materials might make superior screen coverings. Synthetic sapphire crystal has been dominating our imaginations, and rumors suggest that Apple could very well be ramping-up production in an effort to deliver the first mass-market phone protected by such a covering. In a recent interview, Corning VP Tony Tripeny had quite a bit to say about the negative consequences of using sapphire for such a purpose.
Corning talking trash about sapphire is nothing new, and we’ve heard similar comments going back to last spring. In addition to the complaints about sapphire being more brittle than Gorilla Glass, Corning now raises a few new issues. For instance, it points out that sapphire transmits less light than glass, possibly setting up display backlights to be working overtime. The company also mentions the environmental toll sapphire production may result in, consuming far more energy than fabricating comparable Gorilla Glass panels.
Granted, few companies know glass like Corning does, so we’re conflicted between appreciating these concerns as the opinions of experts, and seeing Corning as a commercial entity that’s feeling threatened by the rise of new competition. Is there merit to what it’s saying here? If those Apple rumors pan out, we could know in just a matter of months.