We had the chance to see foldable phones at MWC, and although they looked promising, they didn't seem quite ready yet. One of the reasons for this was the absence of glass to cover their flexible panels, which were instead housed in plastic polymers. Not only does this material feel cheaper, it's also a lot less durable and much more prone to scratches. Foldable devices may be different in a couple of years, though, as Corning, the maker of Gorilla Glass, is currently working on bendable glass to protect flexible screens.
In an interview with Wired, John Bayne, Corning's General Manager, said the manufacturer is developing a 0.1mm thick glass with “3- to 5-millimeter bend radii”. The challenge is for it to be thin enough to bend safely, but also sufficiently resistant to protect the underlying panel. Although this is a significant technological advancement, the brand already makes the flexible Willow Glass, which contains salt and is therefore not suitable to be used in a phone.
Corning says its samples are functional but don't yet meet all the requirements — without specifying what they are. It expects its bendable glass to be ready when "foldable smartphones go mainstream," which could still take a few years.
- The Verge