Foldable phones are the newest trend in the smartphone world. Last month, Samsung and Huawei unveiled the first-generation foldable phones during the Unpacked event and MWC, respectively.
However, since they're one of the firsts, as expected, Samsung Galaxy Fold and Huawei Mate X come with some drawbacks. Aside from eye-popping price tags, these foldable phones use plastic polymers for the display, not the sturdier glass material that isn't easy to bend, really.
So how do you make glass foldable? Gorilla Glass maker Corning says it needs to challenge the laws of physics.
Foldable, Bendable Glass
Challenging the laws of physics is no easy task, though, but Corning is working on it. According to the company's general manager John Bayne, developing a truly bendable glass that's suitable for smartphones could take a couple of years more.
"In a glass solution, you're really challenging the laws of physics, in that to get a very tight bend radius you want to go thinner and thinner, but you also have to be able to survive a drop event and resist damage," Bayne said in an interview with Wired. "The technical challenge is, can you keep those tight 3- to 5-millimeter bend radii and also increase the damage resistance of the glass. That's the trajectory we're on."
In comparison, Galaxy Fold and Mate X use plastic polymers to make screens foldable. These materials, though flexible enough to make foldable screens, are more prone to scratches and aren't as tough as glass. Also, with frequent folding, plastic screens will end up with creases after a while. Glass, on the other hand, is more rigid, scratch resistant, and can last longer than the plastic material.
More Foldable Phones
Late last month, United States Patent and Trademark Office published a patent from Apple describing how it plans to work on folding displays. According to the patent, a heating method will be used so that a device's screen won't crack when folded under cold conditions.