Hey DJ! Let Me Hear Some Scratch! But Not On My Smartphone Screen

Today’s Smartphones are not built like the Nokia 3310. The Nokia 3310 has the reputation of having a long battery

A Nokia 3310 and iPhone meme. image courtesy of  www.socialphy.com
A Nokia 3310 and iPhone meme. Image courtesy of www.socialphy.com

life, handy, easy to use and built like a tank. If ever the case or the screen gets damaged, you just have to buy a new one and will operate without any issues. It is not water resistant, though. There are so many memes praising and joking about this phone’s durability. Compared to today’s Smartphones, if we speak of durability. Most people will say that it will not compare to Nokia’s 3310. Sadly, Nokia is no more. Smartphones are expensive and there is no question about it. With many PC features and more packed into a handheld device, plus the material used to manufacture one, a person will surely spend more for one hi tech Smartphone. You may have spent a couple hundred dollars for the phone and probably a 2-year contract when buying your phone. Thus, it is obvious that you need to keep you or phone in tip top shape not only for its resale value, but because you’re going to use it daily and look at it any chance that you have. There are many things that many people do in taking care of their phones like buying protective cases and screen protectors. These things will be fairly familiar to most of you and  you’re probably using a protective case or screen protector right now. They are quite cheap and offers an added layer of protection.

Why Some People Like Their Phone Naked

Sony, iPhone, Samsung and Blackberry Smartphones without protective cases. Image courtesy of www.revisionapp.co.uk

Some people like their phone “naked” for several reasons. First, they suck at putting the screen protectors on where they did not end up with air bubbles. Second, some people just don’t want the feel of screen protectors. It does not mater how much was spent on the screen protector, but for some, it alters their experience while interacting and using their device. It can be either softer or gripper. Third, there are lots of screen protectors that fade or discolor over time. It’s possible it’s caused by fingerprints and the normal degradation of the plastic, but the viewing experience will be affected and will not be clear as it should be. Simply, people just say they don’t need it because the phone manufacturers use materials that are engineered to withstand scratches in most conditions. And their argument is that most Smartphones have enhanced glass like the Gorilla glass and sapphire glass. According to the Gorilla glass manufacturer Corning, the side glass has a hardness of between 534 to 649kgf/mm2. The hardness value falls under the scratchable category by a steel file which means that anything softer than a steel file will not damage or scratch the phone’s display. Corning also uses special coatings on the surface of the glass to minimise collecting fingerprints and can also improve scratch resistance. They also argue that there will only be minimal material that will come directly in contact with the phone’s screen on a daily basis that will actually scratch the phone’s screen. Many surveys also show that there are about 47% of Smartphone users who don’t use any protective cases, 34% of Android users and 13% of iPhone users. A large selection of the cases sold today are made for iPhones and case usage is highest among iPhone users. Android and iPhone users may have owned several cases in the phone’s lifespan and about a quarter of these users use protective cases just to change the phone’s appearance. There are a couple of reasons why some people don’t use protective cases; because it adds unwanted bulk to the phone and, most users are not worried about dropping or damaging the phone. Some say that the cases are too expensive and some still prefer the look and design of a naked Smartphone. Phone cases are another story, but when your phone screen gets scratched or cracked, then we have an issue.

Hardness, Toughness, Scratch-proof Or shatterproof?

Today’s smart phone buyers will always ask how durable a particular phone may be. IPhone shells are made of aluminum, same with high end Android phones. Mid-price and budget Android phones are made of durable plastic. iPhone screens are made of durable glass same as mid-price and high end Android devices. Many people have experienced having the screen of their phone scratched once they put it in their bag or purse. The usual suspects are keys, coins, pens and any random objects, but in reality, sand-type particles and gravity are the main culprits. Modern smart phone screens are engineered to withstand scratches, oil, some chemicals and water, but again smart phones are not drop proof. Two of the most popular screen materials are Corning’s Gorilla glass and sapphire glass covers.

Gorilla Glass Vs Sapphire Screen Covers What set Gorilla glass from other kind of glass screens? The difference involves a molten salt bath, incredible

A Corning Gorilla Glass going through a flexibility test. Image courtesy of electronics.howstuffworks.com
A Corning Gorilla Glass going through a flexibility test. Image courtesy of electronics.howstuffworks.com

temperatures, robots and special trough. The result is a thin piece of glass that can withstand many punishments. Laboratory experiments have also run different scratching agents such as sand paper, coins and smacking them with keys and still no scratches were made. Corning takes silicone dioxide and they combine it with other chemicals before melting the glass down. The result is aluminosilicate glass which contains silicon aluminum, oxygen and sodium ions. To give the Gorilla glass its durability a chemical process called the ion exchange is performed. The glass is dipped in a bath of potassium ions and the bath reaches a temperature of 400 degrees C. And after the chemical bath, the aluminosilicate is compressed by the potassium ions which creates a protective layer on the glass that gives it more strength as compared to normal glass.  Although Corning has not yet released a Mohs Scale of hardness for all three versions of Gorilla glass, still their product is pretty tough. Coins, keys, pens are not as hard as the phone’s glass screens, thus it will not scratch it. Sand, grit and anything containing topaz, quartz and other mineral can do damage to your screen. You may think that these tiny particles will not do any harm, but based on science, it can cause damage to your screen.

Pieces of sapphire glass. Apple has invested millions for sapphire to be used Possibly on iPhone 6. Image courtesy of www.extremetech.com
Pieces of sapphire glass. Apple has invested millions for sapphire to be used Possibly on iPhone 6. Image courtesy of www.extremetech.com

There is a rumor that the next iPhone will be equipped with a sapphire cover over the regular display in whole or in part. If this comes into production, other phone manufacturers will surely follow. The iPhone 5s camera is already using sapphire. And the near future, synthetic sapphire costs are heading in the direction of popular full screen covers. Once other phone manufacturers adapt the technology, the price will surely drop. At present the only hurdle with sapphire screens is its price. For one sapphire screen, it will cost $30 per Smartphone while only $3 for a Gorilla glass screen. Sapphire is an extremely hard material, but on the other hand, Gorilla glass has more flex. And it is also common knowledge that rigid materials are more brittle because it has a low breaking point. According to Mathew Hall, director of the center for Advanced Ceramic Technology at the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering, sapphire is 4 times tougher than Gorilla glass, although a test from Corning contradicts the statement. Corning performed the same simulated and controlled “life test” on a piece of Gorilla glass and an identical-sized sapphire about 1mm thick. Taking into consideration that it was an in-house test from a company who is competing and promoting the resilience and durability of their product. Based on the test, the sapphire broke under the ring on ring test at 161 lbs as compared to 436 lbs applied to Corning’s Gorilla glass, which remained intact. If more third party tests are performed, then the results will be conclusive. What is positive is that both materials can protect your phone from unwanted scratches and might win the battle against the sand and other  hard materials and minerals. But for gravity, it will always win.


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