The biggest issue with foldable phones is that they use a plastic screen instead of a strengthened cover glass. A plastic screen is far easier to scratch than glass which makes any foldable device impractical to use in real life. Well, Corning understands this and so it is working on foldable glass appropriate for foldable devices.
Right now, the existing glass solutions are simply not ideal for use in foldable devices. And that’s why Samsung and Huawei are using plastic polymer on their folding smartphones.
Unlike glass, plastic polymers can bend numerous times without any issues since it is more flexible in nature. On the flip side, that plastic will end up developing a crease over a period of time and it is easier to scratch as well. Worse, you can even scratch the plastic polymer using your nails.
To solve these issues, Corning is working on an ultrathin foldable glass that’s 0.1 mm thick. This foldable glass can bend to a 5mm radius. What’s important is that Corning achieves this while ensuring that the strength of the glass is not compromised in any way.
“The back of the problem we’re trying to break, the technical challenge, is, can you keep those tight 3- to 5-millimeter bend radii and also increase the damage resistance of the glass,” Bayne says. “That’s the trajectory we’re on.”
While Corning already has samples of this foldable glass ready, it is still not ready for primetime. They are functional but they are not meeting all the requirements of OEMs to whom Corning have sampled the glass.
Corning is likely going to solve this issue sooner than later. By the time it does so, foldable devices would also be ready for consumers. Right now, foldable phones make for a great tech demo and offer little else in terms of real-life use. It is how they develop over a period of time that matters the most.
So, if you planned on buying the Galaxy Fold or the Huawei Mate X, it might just be time to reconsider. Those foldable screens are going to end up getting scratched sooner than you’d think.[Via Wired]