What is Gorilla Glass and the differences between the versions?
Gorilla Glass is a type of glass developed by a company named Corning that makes screens on mobile phones, tablets, laptops, smartwatches and other devices more resistant to damage from drops or impacts.
A screen with Gorilla Glass is not unbreakable, but compared to conventional glass, it presents less chance of accidental breakdown. And how tough is Gorilla Glass? That depends on the version of the technology.
Learn about the main versions and some details of how Gorilla Glass works below.
How does Gorilla Glass work?
Gorilla Glass is a type of glass or crystal that can be employed in screens of many different types of devices but finds use mainly in smartphones. With this technology, the chances of the screen breaking or being scratched if dropped hit or rubbed with other objects are greatly reduced compared to panels without this type of protection.
How is this possible? Gorilla Glass consists of a thin layer of a material called alkali aluminosilicate. During manufacture, this surface is hardened using an ion exchange process.
It works like this: the glass panel is subjected to a salt bath set at a temperature of approximately 400°C when the small sodium ions in the glass are replaced by potassium ions from the molten salt.
The potassium ions, being larger, take up more space and when the pane is cooled, end up pressing each other, generating a layer of “compressive stress” that makes the glass more resistant.
According to Corning, “the composition of Gorilla Glass allows potassium ions to diffuse deeper into the surface, creating a thicker compressive stress layer.”
Here are the different versions of Gorilla Glass that you should know:
Gorilla Glass 1
The first commercial version of Gorilla Glass appeared in 2006 but only became widely known in 2007 when the first iPhone was released. Mobile phones of the time used to have a screen with layers of plastic, but Steve Jobs wanted a glass panel that could withstand scratches.
The first iPhone was designed to also have a plastic screen, but Jobs’ concern that scratches would damage the component made Apple adopt Corning’s solution, which would later become known as Gorilla Glass 1.
After Apple, the technology was employed in several devices from other companies.
It is worth pointing out that in the first iPhone, the glass with Gorilla Glass is 1.3 mm thick, but this measurement may vary between 0.5 mm and 2 mm, depending on the purpose of the panel.
Gorilla Glass 2
The standard that became known as Gorilla Glass 2 was introduced by Corning in 2012. Compared to the first generation, the new version brought a 20% reduction in glass thickness, a feature that contributed to the development of slightly thinner devices, such as smartphones like Samsung Galaxy S3 and Google Nexus 4.
Note that the reduced thickness has not decreased the material’s resistance capacity. In fact, Gorilla Glass 2 has been shown to withstand pressure of up to 50kg in lab experiments.
Gorilla Glass 3 and 3+
It was in 2013 that Corning introduced Gorilla Glass 3. In this version, the company prioritised increasing the strength of the glass, an attribute that was achieved thanks to the implementation of a technology called Native Damage Resistance (NDR).
With this feature, Gorilla Glass 3 can be up to three times more scratch-resistant than the previous generation. In addition, this version reduces visible scratches on the screen surface by up to 40%.
Gorilla Glass 3 has made its presence felt in mobile phones such as Samsung Galaxy S4 and Motorola Moto X.
In 2019, Corning introduced Gorilla Glass 3+, a version that basically combines the scratch resistance of the third generation with the increased drop resistance present in the fourth version of the technology.
Gorilla Glass 3+ was developed with a focus on entry-level and intermediate smartphones.
Covered Glass 4
Gorilla Glass 4 was introduced in 2014. Until then, the technology was mainly focused on protecting the screen from scratches, although there was already some resistance to drops. But in the fourth generation, Corning has taken care to make the glass even stronger to increase impact tolerance.
According to the company, a Gorilla Glass 4 panel dropped from a height of 1m will resist damage 80% of the time. In comparison to the previous generation, technology has twice the rigidity.
The Samsung Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge are examples of phones that feature screens reinforced with Gorilla Glass 4.
Gorilla Glass 5
Announced in 2016, Gorilla Glass 5 brings even more focus on the resistance aspect. According to Corning, the fifth generation of the technology is able to make a glass with a thickness of just 0.6 mm withstand falls from heights of up to 1.6m without suffering damage 80% of the time this happens.
The company also points out that compared to Aluminosilicate glass produced by other manufacturers, Gorilla Glass 5 provides up to twice the scratch resistance.
Gorilla Glass 5 has been employed in smartphones such as Samsung Galaxy S9 and LG G7 ThinQ.
Gorilla Glass 6
In mid-2018, Corning unveiled Gorilla Glass 6. The sixth-generation followed the tradition of being tougher than previous ones, except that in this version, the main goal was to make the glass withstand multiple drops without suffering damage.
Corning explains that Gorilla Glass 6 has a composition that makes the glass type twice as strong as the previous generation.
Considering a height of 1m, the company’s tests showed Gorilla Glass 6 withstanding 15 drops in a row without being damaged.
Another test showed the glass coming out unscathed from a 1.6m drop on hard and rough surfaces.
The Samsung Galaxy S10 and Sony Xperia 1 are examples of devices that feature Gorilla Glass 6.
Gorilla Glass Victus
In 2020, Gorilla Glass Victus appeared as the successor to Gorilla Glass 6, although Corning broke the tradition of numbering versions. The new technology came to further strengthen drop and scratch resistance over previous generations.
In Corning’s words, Gorilla Glass Victus is capable of withstanding drops from heights of up to 2m and, in comparison to Gorilla Glass 6, withstands twice as much pressure, a feature that reduces the chances of scratches. Compared to aluminosilicate glass from other manufacturers, the scratch resistance here is up to four times higher.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and the Asus ROG Phone 5 are examples of smartphones that feature Gorilla Glass Victus among their differentiators.
It is important to make it clear that the Gorilla Glass versions listed here consist of the main variations of the technology released as of the date of publication of this text.
Corning works with several other products, such as the Gorilla Glass DX and Gorilla Glass DX+ standards, aimed at devices such as smartwatches and smart bands.
It is also worth noting that Corning is not the only company producing toughened glass. However, it reaps the rewards of being the most popular in the segment.
Finally, it’s worth reinforcing: all versions of Gorilla Glass bring some protection to a device’s screen, but none of them is unbreakable, so it’s still important to take as much care as possible to protect your phone, tablet and the like.