Your next smartphone actually might survive when you drop it -- here's why

Cracked iphoneAndrew Mager/Flickr / Licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Creative Commons licenceDon’t expect Gorilla Glass 5 to be strong enough to save this disaster.

Take out your keys. Now, run them against your phone. Did it do any damage? If so, I’m sorry, and you have my permission to click off the page.

If there’s no damage, you’ve probably just witnessed Gorilla Glass at work.

Made by the New York-based glassmaker Corning, Gorilla Glass is in the display of nearly every smartphone and tablet you could have bought in the last few years. It makes those panels inherently resistant to the scratches and drops your device will inevitably face.

It’s always been better with the former, though. As my colleague Cadie Thompson recently found out, dropping your phone the wrong way will still decorate your screen with a few dozen cracks.

Now, though, Corning hopes to help with that. It’s announced Gorilla Glass 5, the latest version of the tech, which the company claims will hold up better the next time you fumble your device. Corning says it’s commercially available now, and it expects the glass to be implemented on devices from “leading global brands” later this year.

Specifically, the company says Gorilla Glass 5 has survived “up to 80 per cent of the time when dropped face-down from 1.6 meters” in its internal testing. So while it won’t be bulletproof, it should be less of a risk. Scratch resistance on Gorilla Glass 5 is said to be the same as it was on the previous generation, which is largely a good thing.

I emphasise “should” up there because, really, much of this will depend on the device and the accident itself. 

As The Verge notes, some manufacturers could use thinner glass than what was used in Corning’s tests, and not everyone drops their phone flat on their face.

Still, that Corning is making this a point of emphasis is a good thing. Here’s hoping the days of every smartphone being “rugged” will arrive soon enough.

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