Smartphone glass: Gorilla Glass, Ceramic Shield, and others

Smartphone glass: Gorilla Glass, Ceramic Shield, and others

If you’ve ever used a smartphone, you’ve encountered the term Gorilla Glass. You might know it as a special glass used in smartphones, tablets, and similar devices. But do you understand its function and importance? Are you aware that there are different types of Gorilla Glass and other competing tough glasses like Kunlun Glass, Ceramic Shield, Panda Glass, Dragontrail Glass, Sapphire Glass, and even “simple” tempered glass? Some smartphones also feature 2.5D glass. Do you know what these types of glass have in common, how they differ, and what to expect from each? Which one is the best? Read this article for answers to these questions and more:

Advertisement

What is Gorilla Glass?

Gorilla Glass is a type of toughened glass designed to resist damage while still being thin and light. Gorilla Glass was invented by an American company named Corning Inc. Back in the 1960s, they created a sturdy glass called Chemcor that was used for several decades for both industrial and commercial applications. In 2005, the company decided to use its prior experience with Chemcor and start new research to see whether they could create a new kind of hardened glass that could be used for modern electronics such as smartphones and tablets. The result was the first Gorilla Glass, which was announced in February 2008.

Corning Gorilla Glass - Taking Tough to new heights

Corning Gorilla Glass - Taking Tough to new heights

Gorilla Glass is made from a material called alkali-aluminosilicate, which contains aluminum, silicon, and oxygen. These elements help strengthen the sheet of glass. According to Wikipedia, the glass is also immersed in a hot potassium salt ion exchange bath in the manufacturing process, which further increases its surface strength and damage resistance. Nowadays, Gorilla Glass is used extensively to cover the displays of smartphones and tablets, as well as on smartwatches and laptops. It protects the screen from scratches and cracks.

Corning Gorilla Glass evolution

Corning Gorilla Glass evolution

Since 2005, when Corning Inc. started researching new ways to improve their glass, they have released many different types of Gorilla Glass (or versions if you prefer): Gorilla Glass version 1 to 6, followed by Gorilla Glass Victus, Gorilla Glass Victus+, and Gorilla Glass Victus 2.

Advertisement

Each new version has significant improvements over its predecessor, and newer Gorilla Glass types are tougher or thinner than their predecessors.

  • Gorilla Glass Victus 2: The latest generation of Gorilla Glass is called Victus 2. It boasts enhanced drop performance on rough surfaces like concrete and asphalt, surviving drops from up to 1 meter, outperforming competitive aluminosilicate glasses. It’s found on Samsung’s latest Galaxy flagship smartphones such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 or the Samsung Galaxy S24.
  • Gorilla Glass Victus+: An improved version of Gorilla Glass Victus, tailor-made for Samsung devices. Compared to the regular Gorilla Glass Victus, the Plus version is said to be more resistant to scratches. You can find it on phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S22, Samsung Galaxy A55, or Samsung Galaxy A35.
  • Gorilla Glass Victus: Launched in 2020, the Victus glass is twice as resistant to scratches as Gorilla Glass 6 and almost twice as resistant to falls. It can survive a fall from up to 2 meters and, according to tests, up to 20 falls from 1 meter. In comparison, the Gorilla Glass 6 was able to survive 15 drops from a 1-meter height. There are many smartphones featuring this type of glass, like the Google Pixel 8, Xiaomi 13 Ultra, or the Motorola Edge 40 Pro.
  • Gorilla Glass 6: Corning Inc. released this iteration of tough glass on July 18, 2018. It can withstand an occasional fall from up to 1.6 meters height, and, in the company’s lab tests, Gorilla Glass 6 survived up to 15 drops from 1 meter onto rough surfaces. That makes it two times better and tougher than Gorilla Glass 5. In comparison, Corning Inc. says that most of its competitors couldn’t even survive the first drop.
  • Gorilla Glass 5: Was announced in July 2016. The Gorilla Glass 5 has been enhanced to become up to four times more resistant when dropped than its previous version. Corning Inc. promised that this version of Gorilla Glass could survive 1.6 meters (about 5 feet), face-down falls onto a rough surface up to 80% of the time. That means that a smartphone using this glass can survive even if you drop it while taking a picture, for example. Gorilla Glass 5 was and still is used on many devices, even today.
  • Gorilla Glass 4: Through surveys, the company discovered people were mostly worried about dropping their smartphones on the ground and cracking their screens. So, for their Gorilla Glass 4, which was announced at the end of 2014, Corning Inc. focused on improving the glass to make it a lot more resistant to falls. According to their statements, when dropped from a height of 1 meter, Gorilla Glass 4 could “withstand breakage 80% of the time”.
  • Gorilla Glass 3: It was a stronger, more flexible, and more scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass than before. 2013, the year when Gorilla Glass 3 appeared, was also when manufacturers started to become interested in using this hardened glass on laptops and hybrid devices with touchscreens.
  • Gorilla Glass 2: Made its debut in 2012, and it was 20 percent thinner than the original version. Of course, it kept all its other characteristics, such as toughness and scratch resistance, but it could do all that while being thinner. That was perfect for many smartphone manufacturers, as they could now design and fabricate thinner devices.
  • Gorilla Glass 1: The first Gorilla Glass made was introduced on the first iPhone back in January 2007. This was the first time ever that Gorilla Glass was used in consumer electronics. The reason for that seems to be the desire of Apple’s Steve Jobs to use glass on the company’s new iPhone instead of plastic. However, at that time, glass cracked easily, so Steve Jobs met with the CEO of Corning Inc. and, after learning about their research on Gorilla Glass, immediately placed an order. The Gorilla Glass used on Apple’s iPhone had a thickness of 1.5 mm and an oleophobic coating. It was both scratch and crack-resistant, as well as fingerprint and smudge-resistant.

Before moving on, I’d like to discuss Gorilla Glass a little longer. I know that it’s quite a lot of information to digest, so I thought it would be helpful to put all the essential details together in a chart. So here are the main technical differences between the various Gorilla Glass versions:

Gorilla Glass comparison chart

Gorilla Glass comparison chart

NOTE: As you’ve probably noticed, the table doesn’t include details about the Gorilla Glass Victus+. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any official specs about it on Corning’s website. Furthermore, although this type of glass seems to be made specifically for Samsung devices, I didn’t discover any information on Samsung’s websites either.

Moving on, the numbers between different generations of Gorilla Glass are pretty close. Although newer iterations can be thinner, their hardness varies, and, interestingly, the first generation was the best in this area. The hardness of glass is the best indicator of its protection against scratches. Also, it looks like the optical transmission actually decreased, starting with the Gorilla Glass 5 and upwards. On the other hand, newer generations have better fracture toughness values, which means they have better survival rates at drops and falls. It looks like, starting with Gorilla Glass 3, Corning began focusing more on making their glass thinner and more resistant to drops than scratches.

Can Gorilla Glass be 2.5D glass also? Yes it can

Can Gorilla Glass be 2.5D glass also? Yes it can

TIP: If you want to know whether Corning Gorilla Glass protects your device, you can check your device’s hardware specifications, or you can visit Corning’s official website and look for your devices in the list of mobile smartphones, tablets, notebooks, and wearables that use Gorilla Glass: Full Products List.

Advertisement

If your device is not listed on this webpage, there is a high chance that it does not use Gorilla Glass. There is still a possibility, but your device’s manufacturer might have asked Corning Inc. to keep this information hidden from consumers. In that case, you can only make assumptions based on rumors, such as those that iPhones still use Gorilla Glass, although Apple only tells us about tempered glass in their specs.

What is Ceramic Shield?

Ceramic Shield is a type of glass technology that’s developed by Corning, the same company that makes Gorilla Glass. However, the Ceramic Shield is exclusive to Apple’s iPhones, starting with the iPhone 12 series.

Ceramic Shield is found on Apple iPhones

Ceramic Shield is found on Apple iPhones

Ceramic Shield is engineered to offer an even higher level of protection than Gorilla Glass, at least in terms of drop resistance. Compared to Gorilla Glass, Ceramic Shield’s composition includes tiny ceramic nanocrystals. This enhances the toughness of the glass and, thanks to the very small dimensions of the crystals, maintains its transparency.

If you’re wondering which glass is better than Gorilla Glass, Ceramic Shield might be the only one. 🙂

What is Panda Glass?

Panda Glass is a type of alkali-aluminosilicate sheet glass that has been gaining attention as a cost-effective alternative to the market leader Gorilla Glass. It promises to offer a good balance between scratch resistance and high transparency and can be a good option for budget and mid-range devices that aim to deliver quality screen protection. Though not very common, you can find Panda Glass on smartphones like the OPPO Reno11 F, Realme C35, Motorola Moto G23, and Xiaomi Poco C55.

The OPPO Reno11 F has Panda Glass

The OPPO Reno11 F has Panda Glass

While it provides a good level of scratch resistance, its shatter resistance may be less than Gorilla Glass’s. In other words, although it can withstand everyday wear and tear without problems, it might be more prone to breaking upon impact from drops on hard surfaces.

One of its main selling points appears to be a high transparency level, which ensures the visual quality of the smartphone’s display is clear and vibrant. Panda Glass is manufactured in China.

Advertisement

What is Dragontrail Glass?

Dragontrail Glass, developed by Asahi Glass Co. (AGC), is another type of aluminosilicate glass. It’s designed for high durability and scratch resistance, similar to Gorilla Glass. First introduced in the early 2010s, Dragontrail Glass is engineered to be thin, light, and tough, which means it’s an excellent choice for all kinds of electronic devices, including smartphones and tablets.

Its composition makes it more flexible than traditional glass, providing an added level of protection against drops, a common concern for mobile device users. Though not as popular as Gorilla Glass, Dragontrail Glass has been adopted by several manufacturers. You can find it on budget and sometimes on mid-range Android phones like the OnePlus Nord 3.

The OnePlus Nord 3 has Dragontrail Glass

The OnePlus Nord 3 has Dragontrail Glass

What is Kunlun Glass?

Kunlun Glass is a proprietary material developed by HUAWEI. It’s a type of glass designed especially to offer durability and clarity for smartphone displays, and it has been awarded a five-star drop resistance certification from Switzerland's SGS. Kunlun Glass is engineered to withstand significant impacts and stresses, with drop tests showing minimal damage even after multiple falls.

Its scratch resistance is also noteworthy, offering protection against everyday wear and tear, which is a common issue for standard smartphone displays. The glass's oleophobic coating repels oil and grease, contributing to its smudge-resistant properties and making it easier to maintain a clean screen. HUAWEI’s Mate 50 Series, P40 Series, and P50 Series are some of the smartphones that feature Kunlun Glass.

Kunlun Glass is found on HUAWEI phones

Kunlun Glass is found on HUAWEI phones

What is Sapphire Glass?

Sapphire Glass is a high-end display glass renowned for its exceptional scratch resistance, and it ranks second only to diamonds on the Mohs hardness scale. This glass is made from crystalline aluminum oxide, and is actually a form of corundum, with a composition similar to the gemstone sapphire. This material is significantly more scratch and crack-resistant than regular glass, making it ideal for devices that experience a lot of wear and tear. You can find it on luxury watches, smartphone camera lenses, and high-end smartwatches like the Samsung Galaxy Watch6, Apple Watch Ultra 2, or HUAWEI Watch GT 3 Pro.

Sapphire Glass is expensive and can be found on high-end smartwatches

Sapphire Glass is expensive and can be found on high-end smartwatches

Unfortunately, Sapphire Glass has a complex manufacturing process that leads to high costs. Also, despite its durability and high scratch resistance, it’s prone to shattering upon impact.

What is tempered glass?

Tempered glass is a type of safety glass enhanced to provide durability compared to normal glass. The process of tempering puts the outer surfaces of the glass into compression and the interior into tension. Despite its strength, tempered glass does have its limitations; it can shatter easily upon significant impact. However, its affordability and good scratch resistance make it a popular option for basic scratch protection needs at a low cost, thus it’s commonly used by manufacturers on (very) low-budget smartphones.

What is 2.5D glass?

Some affordable smartphones are marketed as having 2.5D glass instead of Gorilla Glass. However, 2.5D is not a specific type or brand of glass; it simply refers to glass with a slight curvature at the edges. This contoured design can be applied to any glass, including Gorilla Glass or other brands, whether strengthened or not. Take, for instance, the OnePlus 12 smartphone - its screen is covered by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus 2 with curved edges.

The OnePlus 12 has a curved screen

The OnePlus 12 has a curved screen

2.5D curved glass screens are popular in smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches for their attractive appearance and improved comfort. The smooth, edge-rounded design integrates nicely with device bodies, leading to its adoption by many brands. However, 2.5D only indicates the shape, not the glass’s resistance, clarity, or quality. It can’t be compared to specific types or brands like Gorilla Glass in terms of durability. When you see 2.5D glass mentioned, remember it describes the design, not the strength or performance.

What type of glass is on your devices?

I hope you enjoyed reading this lengthy article and that you now understand the different types of glass used for smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and other gadgets. Before you go, I’m curious to know if the glass on your devices is a significant factor in your purchasing decision. Did you know what Gorilla Glass means? What about 2.5D glass? Do you want a particular type of glass on your devices? What kind of glass is used on the devices that you own? Don’t hesitate to comment below.

Discover: Smartphone Android Blog Hardware and Sound iOS