Project Phire could make Gorilla Glass as unscratchable as sapphire.

Could Gorilla Glass soon be even better than sapphire? Photo: Corning Glass

What me, worry? Not Corning. The Gorilla Glass maker has just unveiled a new type of glass which they say is just as hard (and therefore unscratchable) as sapphire. They’re calling it Project Phire. Go figure.

Even though it’s only used in Apple’s Touch ID buttons and to cover the lens of the rear camera, sapphire glass has made a big splash since Apple first unveiled it in the iPhone 5s. Since then, Apple has widely been rumored to replace Gorilla Glass in the iPhone with sapphire glass… rumors which were further fueled when Apple invested in GT Advanced’s failed sapphire plant.

But sapphire glass has some issues that make it worse in some respects than Gorilla Glass for use in screens. Sure, sapphire’s harder to scratch, but it’s also harder to read in bright lightthan Gorilla Glass due to its reflectiveness. Sapphire’s also heavier than Gorilla Glass.

That’s why Corning Glass president James Clappin thinks that Gorilla Glass, properly beefed up, is still the way for Apple to go.

“We told you last year that sapphire was great for scratch performance but didn’t fare well when dropped,” Clappin, president of Corning Glass Technologies, told the crowd at the event. “So, we created a product that offers the same superior damage resistance and drop performance of Gorilla Glass 4 with scratch resistance that approaches sapphire.”

To be honest, I don’t know why Apple wouldn’t stay with Gorilla Glass if it was as unscratchable as sapphire. It’s proven, it’s affordable, and it’s easier to make. Whether Corning’s claims hold up to scrutiny, though, is another thing entirely.

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