I’m seeing something more and more lately that’s beginning to concern me: broken phones.
Apple iPhones with shattered screens, Samsung handsets with jagged glass, and other devices that look like they fell to ground with an awful crack. Whenever I see these, I wonder if people know the difference between scratch-resistant and drop-proof.
Corning has made a name for itself with a specific product that most phones we’ve seen have used in some way or another.
Used on over 750 million devices, it’s called “Gorilla Glass” and is essentially a stronger type of glass engineered to be more resistant to damage.
According to a New York Times article, the decision to use a scratch-resistant glass screen in smartphones came from the first-generation iPhone prototypes, when Steve Jobs would find his keys had left little marks in the plastic screen Apple was using.
The research for the Gorilla Glass happened in the 60s, and since its introduction in Apple’s first mobile handset, we’ve seen it in so many other devices, that we now think it’s pretty much a standard feature.
But while the glass technology is strengthened, it’s not strong enough to survive everything you throw at it.
Keep your keys in the same pocket as your phone, or maybe your handbag and backpack? Don’t worry so much, as strengthened glass will stop it from getting seriously scratched up.
Drop your phone on concrete, or asphalt, or any other hard surface? That’s something Gorilla Glass won’t necessarily be able to help with, and depending on how the phone lands – the corner, side, or face – the glass can break.
Currently, glass isn’t drop-proof, and while your screen might survive an impact with the hard ground, it’s not a guarantee, and bullet-proof glass isn’t a necessity in your average smartphone.
Furthermore, using a broken glass screen is just confusing for us, and astounds us how many people don’t have a problem with it.
When we were kids, we can remember our parents telling us not to touch broken glass, and yet here many of us are, running our fingers on glass screens with massive cracks throughout them. The experts say that you probably won’t get cut, but given that it’s glass, we still suggest caution.
“Generally, the genuine glass does not splinter into sharp shards, so the screen can be used with a bit of protective sticky tape stuck over it,” said Patrick Lee of iExperts in Australia, repairers of smartphones like the iPhone 4. “Aftermarket glass breakages may cause sharp splinters so it is not recommend to use these if any shards are falling out.”
If your phone does break, head to a repairer and get that sorted. You shouldn’t be holding broken glass to your face to take a call, or even touching it. That’s insane.