Corning Gorilla Glass4 (image 001)

Corning, a company that supplies Apple and many other device vendors with its chemically strengthened glass, on Thursday announced the fourth-generation Gorilla Glass which it says has been designed to be up to two times tougher against drops on rough surfaces than “any competitive cover glass design now in the market.”

The announcement comes at an interesting time for Apple in light of its failed experiment with sapphire maker GT Advanced Technology which led to GT’s unexpected bankruptcy and an unused $1 billion manufacturing facility in Mesa, Arizona.

Although the California firm planned on protecting the 4.7 and 5.5-inch screens on the latest iPhone 6 devices with ultra-thin sheets of sapphire, the plan was scrapped following GT’s failed attempts to ramp up production and meet Apple’s exacting standards in terms of volume and yields.

Corning claims that the Gorilla Glass 4 provides at least two times improved damage resistance over competitive aluminosilicate glass, “as measured by retained strength after damage events,” resulting in improved mechanical durability of the glass to in-field damage events, such as drops.

Corning Gorilla Glass4 (image 002)

The material apparently survives up to 80 percent of the time, as opposed to soda-lime glass found in today’s commercial devices, which breaks nearly 100 percent of the time.

Based on an internal analysis of hundreds of broken devices, Corning found that damage caused by sharp contact accounted for more than 70 percent of field failures. It’s the primary reason that mobile devices break, Corning concluded.

The new Gorilla Glass 4 went through a barrage of new tests that simulate real-world break events, like dropping devices face down from one meter.

And here’s a testing video.

The glass is manufactured using Corning’s proprietary fusion draw process which maintains the thinness, durability and optical clarity while “dramatically improving” drop performance.

Since its launch in 2007, Gorilla Glass has been featured in more than 3 billion devices, among them in all iPhone generations.

[Corning]