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Sapphire glass for new smartphones?

Post Time:Apr 02,2013Classify:Industry NewsView:306

The next generation of smartphones could have bullet-proof sapphire-glass screens thanks to improved production techniques and falling prices.


One of the many rumours surrounding Google's upcoming X Phone is that it will feature a sapphire-glass display - a specification, which if true, could herald a new technological standard for mobile devices.


At the moment, all premium smartphones have one thing in common. Regardless of chip sets, RAM or operating system, they all use Gorilla Glass in the display construction as it is the thinnest, strongest and most scratch-resistant material available - a choice that has made its creators, Corning, extremely successful.


However, sapphire glass takes things to another level. Used in the construction of bullet-proof windshields and windows, and as a clear coat layer on body armour, it is not only tougher than Gorilla Glass, but it is also pretty much tougher, stronger and resistant to scratching than anything other than a diamond.


However, its production is expensive and essentially entails creating a synthetic sapphire by heating and cooling aluminium oxide so that it crystallises.


As a result, a sheet of sapphire glass for a smartphone screen costs 10 times more than its Gorilla Glass equivalent.


Still, according to a story published last month in the MIT Technology Review, production techniques are constantly improving and, within 12 months, could be cheap enough for some phonemakers to adopt for their products.


Even at today's prices, Apple uses sapphire glass to cover the camera lens on its iPhone 5 because of its more or less scratch-proof qualities, the same reason many of the world's leading horologists use sapphire glass on their flagship watches.


Research from insurance and warranty company Square Trade shows that in Britain alone the combined repair bill for smartphones since 2007 runs to £1.2 billion (S$2.3 billion) and that the most common form of accidental damage comes as a result of a fall from a pocket or table.


The cost of replacing and repairing broken screens has resulted in 8 per cent of British smartphone owners continuing to use their handset even though it has a cracked or broken screen.

Source: http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Science%Author: shangyi

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