Gorilla Glass is now drop-resistant, but that doesn’t mean you should be reckless

The term “scratch-resistant” often gets confused for “drop-proof” by people with mobiles, scratching their heads and looking dumbfounded when their scratch-resistant glass smartphone screen breaks after a minor drop, but a new development by Corning could at least put some of these feelings at ease.

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again:

Gorilla Glass: it’s scratch resistant, not drop proof.

For those who don’t quite get what we mean, it’s what the highly resistant strengthened glass many smartphones are equipped with can deal with scratches relatively well (unless they’re made with a particularly heavy or rough edge), but drops are another story.

Drop a phone, usually on its side, and when the glass tries to flex and can’t, it will snap. It’s unfortunate, but that’s what happens, and there’s not a lot you can do about it, beyond bulking up that phone with large and rubbery cases, or specialty materials like the orange goo D3O.

But there may be some hope on the horizon.

This week, Corning has announced the latest version of Gorilla Glass, now in its fourth incarnation, and hence named Gorilla Glass 4.

For this generation, the company has studied what happens for the metre drops many of us endure when we take our phone out of our bags, our pockets, or even slip from our hands, working with a specific drop-test machine to analyse a fall on a rough surface to see how the glass shatters.

And the research Corning has gathered has allowed the company to assemble one of the strongest types of glass you’ll probably ever see, and in a form-factor that actually manages to be thinner than previous generations.

According to tests, Gorilla Glass 4 can take more pressure in less thickness, with over 14kgf (kilogram-force) in a space of 0.4mm, compared to the 6kgf of its 0.55m Gorilla Glass 3 brother.

That change in resistance also means it can survive better when the glass comes into contact with sharp and rough materials, meaning your phone won’t necessarily shatter.

In fact, Corning says that the Glass will survive in 80 percent of drop scenarios, making it a decent bet that Murphy’s Law won’t completely make a mockery out of your accidental slip of the hand.

As for when you’ll see this glass on new phones, we expect it’ll be next year, because with Mobile World Congress on in March of 2015, it’s only natural to expect the new phones there to sport this hyper resistant glass, and that means flagships from that time on-wards will likely see it.