- Corning is developing glass that truly folds, unlike the plastic displays first-gen foldable phones are using.
- The bendable glass will be 0.1mm thin and can bend up to a 5mm radius.
- Corning expects the glass to be ready in a few years, but Japan’s AGC might beat Corning to it.
At this point, it’s safe to say foldable phones stole the show this year at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Both Samsung’s Galaxy Fold and the Huawei Mate X had a big presence at the tradeshow even though few were allowed touch and use them. Product videos of the devices, however, revealed the foldable phones aren’t really foldable. They’re bendable at best.
The Samsung Galaxy Fold doesn’t really fold flat. When closed, there’s a glaring gap near the hinge. That’s because the Infinity Flex display on the Samsung Galaxy Fold as well as the panel on the Huawei Mate X doesn’t have truly foldable glass. In both the phones, the diplay relies on polymers or plastic which can flex multiple times, but can also get scratched or creased. The issue is expected in the first generation foldable phones.
Gorilla Glass maker Corning is reportedly working on addressing this issue. According to a report by Wired, Corning is developing an ultrathin, bendable glass. Glass, mind you. Not plastic. The bendable glass will allegedly be 0.1 millimeters thick and can bend up to a 5 millimeter radius. All that while retaining it’s build and durability.
However, it all seems like a complete defiance of the laws of physics. In fact, Corning admits the fact. In the report, John Bayne, Senior Vice President of Corning’s Gorilla Glass told Wired, “In a glass solution, you’re really challenging the laws of physics, in that to get a very tight bend radius you want to go thinner and thinner, but you also have to be able to survive a drop event and resist damage.”
The company is not ready to make any official announcement about the development yet, but the report states Corning expects the glass to be ready in a few years. The report also claims Japan’s AGC, the maker of the Asahi Dragontail protective glass for smartphones, might be ready with a similar product even before Corning. However, this is not the first time we’re hearing of Corning working on a bendable glass. Earlier, the company had showcased prototypes of the bendable displays to CNET where Corning discussed about how glass will ultimately be the material of choice for foldable devices in the future.
Even while foldable phones are yet to truly arrive in the markets (we only have the official announcements and videos to go by), the race is on to make foldable phones, completely foldable, and in that process, hopefully bring the price range of the devices more affordable.