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Corning executive recites the downside to the use of sapphire glass

Posted: , by Alan F.

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Corning executive recites the downside to the use of sapphire glass
You just can't monkey around with Corning. The company behind the Gorilla Glass screens that have been used for years to prevent scratches and other damage on mobile touchscreen devices, might soon have competition from sapphire glass. Rumors persist that the next-gen Apple iPhone 6 will be employing the second hardest material on the planet after diamonds. The speculation received a strong bump after Canonical executive Mark Shuttleworth recently accused Apple of cornering the market on 4.5 inch sapphire glass panels.

On Tuesday, at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media & Telecom Conference, Corning Glass executive Tony Tripeny mentioned a list of what could be the downside of using sapphire glass on a smartphone screen. The executive said that sapphire is 10 times more expensive than Gorilla Glass and weighs 1.6 times as much as Corning's product. Tripeny added that the sapphire glass requires 100 times the energy to light up the screen than a Gorilla Glass display needs. He also adds that sapphire glass is environmentally unfriendly.

"When we look at it, we see a lot of disadvantages of Sapphire versus Gorilla Glass. It's about 10 times more expensive. It's about 1.6 times heavier. It's environmentally unfriendly. It takes about 100 times more energy to generate a Sapphire crystal than it does glass. It transmits less light which...means either dimmer devices or shorter battery life. It continues to break."-Tony Tripeny, Corning

The Corning executive said that using sapphire means dimmer screens or accepting less battery life in devices that use it. And while Tripeny did admit that sapphire glass is a very hard material, he claims that testing has shown that Gorilla Glass can withstand 2.5 times the pressure. It also takes 4000 times longer to form sapphire than Gorilla Glass.

So does it sound like Corning is obsessed with the possible competition? Heck, they even put up a website that debates the issue, which you can find at the sourcelink.



source: SeekingAlpha, Corning via AppleInsider

49 Comments
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posted on 05 Mar 2014, 01:59 21

1. D.Aceveda (Posts: 363; Member since: 30 Jun 2012)


Gorilla Glass FTW

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:32 2

13. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5876; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


If the points being made by Tripeny are true, it would seem that Apple has some problems to overcome. Otherwise, I think sapphire will be used for the iWatch.

It will be interesting to see what screen material graces the iP6, though.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 05:17 6

30. Finalflash (Posts: 1811; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)


Well the thing with Apple is, they do it more for marketing than consumer benefit. I can only imagine the amount of misinformation they can spread with the word sapphire (like with their camera lens). Still, I think it makes sense for the iWatch because likely no one is dropping it so shattering is less of an issue. Scratching it is the main problem since having used watches before, I can attest that anything and everything will scratch them. Since sapphire glass is probably better at being scratch proof it will be more useful there.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 20:38 1

45. 8logic (Posts: 131; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)


completely agree. the headline will be fancy "sapphire" in stead of boring glass

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 04:22 4

23. TechBizJP08 (Posts: 495; Member since: 25 Mar 2013)


The next iPhone will be 10x more expensive. Those poor souls. tsk tsk tsk

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 17:42

41. mrblah (Posts: 460; Member since: 22 Jan 2013)


I'm sending in payments now!

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 04:24 6

25. HansGoneInsane (Posts: 384; Member since: 09 Aug 2013)


Does "It takes about 100 times more energy to generate a Sapphire crystal than it does glass." really mean that it takes 100 times more energy to light up the display? To me (non native english speaker), it sounds like it takes 100 times more energy to produce such a display. What do you think?

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 20:39 1

46. 8logic (Posts: 131; Member since: 05 Mar 2012)


it was about production

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:01 12

2. pwnarena (Posts: 945; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


if true, those are good points. however, gorilla is not the only tempered glass around. there's dragontrail.

also, pls corning where's that reflection-less gorilla glass you were bragging before? i haven't seen it in an actual product.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:02 3

3. alterecho (Posts: 1085; Member since: 23 Feb 2012)


I'll believe what he said when I see the feedbacks on an actual product.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:03 22

4. D.Aceveda (Posts: 363; Member since: 30 Jun 2012)


Rest assured that while sapphire does indeed cost more than GG, Apple will definitely pass that cost to Apple consumers. I can see Jony Ive talking about it now

"Sapphire.....its revolutionary. It feels remarkable to touch. It truly is magical"

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:15 5

9. vincelongman (Posts: 1344; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)


Also I have doubt about Apple's Sapphire after watching this video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-3c1NYF8Gw
He easily scratches the Sapphire over the fingerprint reader with a knife
This should have been impossible since Sapphire is 9H and steel is 5-6H, unless if he had a diamond encrusted knife (10H)

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:23 1

11. pwnarena (Posts: 945; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


or there's a screen protector a la sony

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 09:36 2

33. alrightihatepickingusernames (Posts: 410; Member since: 29 Dec 2013)


Yeah I'll have to be careful of all the sharpened knives in my pocket.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 12:25 1

37. vincelongman (Posts: 1344; Member since: 10 Feb 2013)


You don't get it.
The video suggests that Apple's Sapphire isn't any where as hard as real Sapphire.
There's plenty of videos of people stabbing Gorilla Glass with knives and it doesn't leave any scratches.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 03:20 1

19. Scott93274 (Posts: 1182; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)


But will it blend??? :-P ... And I think it's more evolutionary than revolutionary, a simple step up in the durability of a touch screen display. Frankly, I would rather have a flexible display, but that's just me.

posted on 06 Mar 2014, 03:32

49. num1gever (Posts: 1; Member since: 06 Mar 2014)


You forgot the "We have completely redesigned the iPhone 6. It's a product of many hours of research and feedback from you, the costumers, to make yet again - the best thing that happened to the iPhone since the iPhone."
Such a load of cr*p..

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:07 4

5. ThePython (Posts: 306; Member since: 08 May 2013)


But it hardly breaks. That alone beats Gorilla.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:11 6

7. pwnarena (Posts: 945; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


at the expense of battery life. no, thanks. i can live with a cover/case.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 03:10 4

17. Scott93274 (Posts: 1182; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)


I have yet to break my gorilla glass displays, unless you're throwing your phones off sky scrapers or sheer cliffs, I think GG is the better choice. That opinion of course dependent entirely on the above article being accurate.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 04:36 3

26. tedkord (Posts: 4975; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


Actually, it's much more breakable than gorilla glass. It scratches much less.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 20:58 1

47. roscuthiii (Posts: 1847; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)


Yep, few people seem to realize that "hardness" is not the same as something like tensile strength or compressive strength.

The market is ripe for Apple's marketing prowess.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:09 2

6. StraightEdgeNexus (Posts: 3426; Member since: 14 Feb 2014)


I feel that sapphire glass to protect the camera is a good idea by fruit. I noticed it was next to impossible to scratch the camera of iphone 5s.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:13 3

8. pwnarena (Posts: 945; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


now, i'm just wondering - if sapphire glass means dimmer displays, why did apple use it to cover their cameras? iphone 5s cameras don't produce dark photos.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 05:21 2

31. Finalflash (Posts: 1811; Member since: 23 Jul 2013)


Because the cover on the camera is much smaller and likely can be MUCH thinner than the front screen. The new cover did add a nice purple hue to the images sometimes though, so you can see it has different refractive properties.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:17 5

10. lucid.brat (Posts: 98; Member since: 09 Sep 2013)


10 times more xpenisve....hell no...already iPhone is very costly and now....damn

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:28 2

12. cripton805 (Posts: 946; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)


Im not a tree hugger, but why produce something that is so unfriendly to the environment? That is, if theres already great products out there. I could see going from saphire to gorilla type glass, but not the other way around. As much as I like me some old school reliable muscle cars, I dont think we should go back to it from todays muscle. Just how "unfriendly" is the saphire glass? Are we talking running one prius for 50 years compared to 1 billion screens?

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 03:23

20. Napalm_3nema (Posts: 1163; Member since: 14 Jun 2013)


He is talking about potential competition, and he is also talking about the company who made GG what it is (Apple), which may come back to haunt him. It would be akin to asking a Coca Cola executive if Pepsi was good, or having a BMW executive discuss Mercedes Benz. They are going to use internal talking points that have already been developed, factual or not, to lower the competition and elevate themselves.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 04:42 1

29. tedkord (Posts: 4975; Member since: 17 Jun 2009)


But his points are all factual. Sapphire is more expensive, less transmittive, takes more energy to make and is more breakable than gorilla glass.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 17:50

42. mrblah (Posts: 460; Member since: 22 Jan 2013)


Do you think they are using the same sapphire treatment as Apple? No way, they are just butt hurt the company that made them who they are, are leaving because the new glass they make isn't up to our standards anymore. Both my iphone 5 and S4 screens broke. the cost is bought down buy buying in bulk and signing long term deals. This guy is a cry baby lame and was rightly fully kicked to the curb with sammy.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 21:05

48. roscuthiii (Posts: 1847; Member since: 18 Jul 2010)


You must be thirsty... Hold on, I'll get you some refreshments. Kool Aid or apple juice?

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:33 3

14. Just.Saying (Posts: 132; Member since: 04 Apr 2013)


Having worked in the glass industry for 10 years i can tell you that harder is not necessarily stronger. Corning Willow Glass will be so much better

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:37 2

15. nlbates66 (Posts: 307; Member since: 15 Aug 2012)


I suppose "harder" could also be more brittle and less flexible...

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 02:50 1

16. androiphone20 (Posts: 1474; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)


aThr last time I checked dropping a phone even without sapphire shattered the screen

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 03:17 1

18. Scott93274 (Posts: 1182; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)


"Don't they test these things before they release them?" lol. honestly, anything's better than the candy glass that Apple currently uses on their smart phones.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 04:40 1

27. kanagadeepan (Posts: 686; Member since: 24 Jan 2012)


Didn't apple release their Maps, even with hell lot of mistakes? Didn't apple release iPhone4 with Antenna problems (AntennaGate)?

So why NOT again in iPhone6? Especially with fans who will call DimScreen is the need of the hour...

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 03:27 1

21. strikercho (banned) (Posts: 156; Member since: 20 Mar 2012)


Hahaha, yeah, right! Sapphire in Apple devices means only one thing for Corning - cutting their profits in more than a half this year. :) Sorry, guys.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 03:33 3

22. Scott93274 (Posts: 1182; Member since: 06 Aug 2013)


I'm really curious how Apple will do this year. They missed their projected sales goals and their market share keeps shrinking... If they incorporate a costly new display that underperforms to competition even after all their bragging… especially after everyone currently owning an iPhone is stating that’s the biggest feature they have to look forward to with the next release… it might not be too far off to think that Apple sales will begin to fall as a result.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 17:57

44. mrblah (Posts: 460; Member since: 22 Jan 2013)


They missed wallstreets projected sales, they out sold what they did last year(or what they have ever done.), sounds like a win to me.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 04:41 1

28. kanagadeepan (Posts: 686; Member since: 24 Jan 2012)


Apple NOT using GG right?

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 04:23 3

24. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 2695; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


Good fair points. Gorilla Glass FTW.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 08:44 1

32. Edward_bly (Posts: 197; Member since: 11 Dec 2013)


Just use a screen protector...

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 10:32 2

34. PBXtech (Posts: 980; Member since: 21 Oct 2013)


It's unlikely people will exert that much and that type of pressure onto a phone screen. Drop tests are a different story, but have yet to see any done. Sapphire holds up to scratches a lot better from what I've seen, which is a main goal for using it on phones. However, if it really does take 100x the energy to illuminate, I can't see this as a viable replacement for GG until they come up with a better battery type. If true, that also flies in the face of what Apple tries to avoid, they've had major issues with the first generation iPod batter and learned a hard lesson from it.

I'll wait for a neutral, independent review of both before making a final judgement.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 11:21 2

35. corporateJP (Posts: 1601; Member since: 28 Nov 2009)


Good points, but I think someone is scared of a little competition.

As others have said, let's see an independent review first.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 12:07

36. ramsin (Posts: 4; Member since: 13 Sep 2013)


I will say though the quality of gorilla glass has been steadily declining in the spirit of increased margins. Gorilla glass one was almost perfect 2 and 3 have become weaker and less scratch resistant, time to step it up.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 13:39

38. HildyJ (Posts: 153; Member since: 11 Aug 2012)


Sapphire is harder than Gorilla Glass and nothing Corning can do will change that. I have an Omega with sapphire crystals front and back and after 20 years it doesn't have a scratch on it. OTOH, by its nature, sapphire cannot have impurities added to mitigate some issues with a screen. This is what Corning demonstrates. When sapphire is abraded, even though you don't see the scratches, it is weakened and is more subject to fracture than Gorilla Glass. So it's a tradeoff.

Also, the manufacturer's experience is in watch faces so an iWatch with a sapphire face may be the first product we see. Furthermore, if you look at Apple's patent, it is for a layered screen - in essence a thin sapphire screen protector permanently (hopefully) bonded to a glass screen.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 15:05

39. GoBears (Posts: 366; Member since: 27 Apr 2012)


Or better yet... just take better care of your devices. I don't want to pay even more for a device because half the users are clumsy idiots that can't care for an expensive toy. I'd rather them forget the sapphire and stupid fingerprint/heart rate scanners and lower the prices.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 16:03

40. Fuego84 (Posts: 284; Member since: 13 May 2012)


Phone screen breaking is dependent on a lot of things, for instance I saw this video of a Moto G drop test where the screen broke and another where the Moto G got run over by a WV beetle and the screen didn't get a any cracks at all.

posted on 05 Mar 2014, 17:53 1

43. Taters (Posts: 3285; Member since: 28 Jan 2013)


The sapphire screen displays at CES really did look like looking through fog so I am not sure it's ready for prime time yet.

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