What's So Special about iPhone 4's Aluminosilicate Glass

By Matthew Braga

What's in a piece of glass? A lot, apparently, if you're talking about new mobile phones.

What's in a piece of glass? A lot, apparently. Recent devices have made a big deal out of something called Gorilla glass, with the Dell Streak most famously teasing its indestructibility to great fanfare. Manufacturer Corning claims the glass can withstand nearly anything us puny humans can throw at it, and electronics makers are flocking to the screens in droves.  

new aluminosilicate screen?

explains Dr. Donnell Walton, an engineer at Corning. "Brittle materials are extremely strong under compression but extremely weak under tension."
In other words, if you're to drop a device manufactured in the last few years, its screen will probably be the first thing to break. You don't need to travel much farther than your local Apple Store to find a swath of people mourning the untimely death of their iPhones, marred by a four-foot drop onto cold, hard concrete. Because we're unlikely to become less clumsy anytime soon, Corning has taken an alternate route and tried to improve the performance of the screens instead — and that's where Gorilla glass comes in.

Of course, the new iPhone is promising a similar, indestructible style of screen — one that's curiously similar to Gorilla glass. Apple promises the screen to be "20 times stiffer and 30 times harder than plastic" and also incredibly scratch resistant as well. This is all due to a panel of aluminosilicate glass, the same sort of material used by Corning to manufacturer their own device screens. In fact, the similarities are so consistent that some have questioned whether Gorilla glass is behind Apple's new phone. We've reached out to the company, but have yet to receive a reply. — something that's neither been confirmed nor denied by the company.
decided to perform a drop test on the phone's new screen. From 3.5ft the device survived the first two drops, until finally cracking upon the third. The results aren't really reflective of what we've expect of Gorilla glass products thus far, perhaps proving that not all aluminosilicate screens are created equal. 

Images via Apple, Smart Planet, and I Fix your i.