Corning reckons we’re three years away from flexible screens

Corning has to be one of the biggest success stories in this generation of mobile phones; Gorilla Glass, after all, has pretty much become the industry standard for smartphone screens (even though some companies, such as Sony, use their own scratch-resistant glass, instead of Corning’s baby; the Sony Xperia Z comes to mind as it uses Dragontrail glass on the front, although weirdly, it also uses Gorilla Glass on the back of the phone). Naturally, Corning’s hoping that their next product, the wonderfully bendy Willow Glass will be a big success, but that doesn’t mean we should expect phones with bendy screens just yet; in an interview with Bloomberg, Corning says that they reckon it’ll be three years before we see phones with flexible screens. So, why’s that?

Well, the truth of it seems to be that not many people are used to, well, glass you can roll up like paper. In the words of Corning president James Clappin, “People are not accustomed to glass you roll up. The ability of people to take it and use it to make a product is limited.”

Oh, and he did also say that the company’s going to “a lot of effort” to teach their “very big name” clients how to actually handle the Willow Glass spools. Yes, the stuff is so flexible, that it comes on spools. I mean come on, how can people not get excited about glass that’s all bendy and wibbly and oh my god, how cool is that?

No? Just me, then?

However, that emphatically does not mean we won’t see Willow Glass in action before then, because there’s other uses for it besides bendy screens. Y’see, the whole point about Willow Glass is that it’s inconceivably strong, stronger even than Gorilla Glass, and that means that it can be made thinner. That thinness, combined with that inconceivable (yes, that was a Princess Bride reference) strength, is what makes it bendy.

Thin glass, on the front of a standard smartphone body, makes for a thinner phone, without sacrificing the benefits that Gorilla Glass would bring in that situation. So, imagine something like the already thin iPhone 5, but even thinner. That, right there, is the short-term benefit of Willow Glass.

Yes, we’ll get bendy-screened phones at some point, but till then, we’ll get thinner phones that are just as tough as the ones that use Gorilla Glass today.

And that is going to be ace…

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About TechnicalMarkus

It's a little known fact Technical Markus has now beaten both his Transformers addiction AND his Mass Effect addiction, by replacing both with an equally obsessive addiction to XCOM: Enemy Unknown and buying Humble Bundles for his Android phone. At the moment, he's pondering the actual usefulness of smartwatches and smart glasses, even if the nerd in him is shouting for joy at how sci-fi they are. He spends his spare time being whinged at to figure out what's wrong with other people's mobile phones, and drinking unimaginable quantities of tea. With milk. And three sweeteners, thanks for asking. Oh, and he's got an HTC One X, but he reckons his next phone might be a Sony, the turncoat...