Today's smartphones are too fragile.When will scientists invent unbreakable devices?

Break me completely


On the tenth anniversary of Apple founder Steve Jobs' death, CNet writer Roger Cheng told a news conference that the entrepreneur threw the first iPhone to the floor to shock the crowd. The marketing whiz wanted to surprise journalists, and he certainly succeeded. Jobs knew that the phone would not break in half and that its screen would not crack. While developing the device, the entrepreneur noticed that the keys in the pocket scratched the screen of the prototype smartphone. As a result, Apple signed a contract with the American company Corning, which has developed an alumosilicate glass for the device. Such a screen, although it could break when falling smartphone, but less often collected scratches than its plastic counterpart. Since then, devices of Apple and other phone manufacturers were equipped only with glass Gorilla Glass.


Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images


Now all the players at the market of smartphones have abandoned the plastic screens - at least the devices of the medium and premium price segment. However, the classic glass has three disadvantages. First, it breaks in pieces when dropped from a great height. Secondly, it scratches badly when in contact with sharp objects and abrasive material. Thirdly, it collects grease and fingerprints. In a wet environment, the last disadvantage is even more relevant.




Glass definitely looks better than plastic, but has a greater chance of breaking upon physical contact, such as a fall. In today's reality, the cost of repairing a single screen can exceed the cost of replacing all parts of the device. The next round in the development of the smartphone glass industry was recorded a couple of years ago. In the early 2020s, foldable devices with flexible screens that can bend and stretch in different directions became popular in the market. It is impossible to protect such gadgets with a classic glass cover. Manufacturers have not found alternatives to the classic glass, as evidenced by the numerous problems with the displays of Samsung and Motorola smartphones. It seems to experts that relying on flexible protective coatings in the smartphones of the future is not very expedient.


Given that the current devices of Apple, Samsung, Huawei and other brands are covered with glass on both sides, the repair of the gadget can cost half or a quarter of the cost of the device. For example, replacing the front panel of an estimated $1,799 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 will cost $479. To change the folding screen in the Huawei Mate X for $2,400, you have to pay a thousand dollars. Servicing Apple's most expensive flagship, the iPhone 13 Pro Max, will cost $329, or about a quarter of its price.


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