Smartphone glass types compared

Original Equipment Manufacturers, or OEMs, use a number of different kinds of materials to make smartphone glass. Not to be confused with the tech inside of the displays, we’re referring to the actual glass that covers them.

Most modern smartphones feature some sort of toughened glass face, the most common of which is Corning’s Gorilla Glass. Less common is the Japanese-made Asahi Dragontrail glass; rarer still is a coating that’s not glass at all, but Sapphire.

Aside from materials, there are also varying structures of glass. While smartphones used to use a typical pane (2D) of glass, we are more commonly seeing curved screens (3D, like on the Samsung Galaxy Edge series) and flat screens with curved edges (2.5D, like on the V30).

Let’s take a look at the various types of materials used to protect screens on your phones and tablets. We’ll explore some of the differences between them, highlighting some of the most interesting and relevant details.

Corning Gorilla Glass

Gorilla Glass is an alkali-aluminosilicate glass manufactured by the New York-based Corning. Over the last few years it’s become the brand name of display glasses, becoming synonymous with durability of displays. Corning designed Gorilla Glass to be scratch-resistant, drop-resistant, and crystal clear to ensure the best possible picture.

Gorilla Glass SR+

Corning® Gorilla® Glass SR+ is a glass composite designed specically for wearables that combines the legendary toughness, optical clarity and touch sensitivity of Gorilla Glass with superior scratch resistance approaching that of luxury watch cover materials.

  • Announced: August 2016
  • Application: Smartwatches, wearables
  • Reduces visible scratches
  • 70% better damage resistance over previous generations
  • 5% better optical transmission over previous generations
  • 25% better front surface reflection over previous generations

Gorilla Glass 5

Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5 – Corning’s latest glass design was formulated to address breakage – the greatest concern of consumers, according to Corning’s research. The new glass is just as thin and light as previous versions, but has been formulated to deliver dramatically improved damage resistance allowing improved in-field performance. Corning® Gorilla® Glass 5 has been tested for performance when subjected to sharp contact damage.

According to Corning, phones with Gorilla Glass 5 can survive drops of up to 1.6 meters. Moreover, its tech can prevent cracks in up to 80% of falls onto extremely hard surfaces from heights of one meter.

  • Announced: July 2016
  • Application: Smartphones, tablets, laptops
  • Hardness: 601-638 kgf/mm2
  • Improved drop performance
  • High retained strength after use
  • High resistance to scratch and sharp contact damage
  • Superior surface quality

Gorilla Glass 4

It was the fourth generation of Corning’s tech where the company decided to tackle the idea of being resistant to drops. Remember the commercials for the Droid Turbo in late 2014? This was the era where the uncrackable glass took off, giving phones a much tougher protection over displays. Twice as strong as its predecessor, it definitely changed the game.

  • Announced: November 2014
  • Application: Smartphones, tablets, laptops
  • Hardness: 489-596 kgf/mm2
  • Enhanced retained strength after use
  • High resistance to scratch and sharp contact damage
  • Improved drop performance
  • Superior surface quality

Asahi DragonTrail Glass

Dragontrail glass, like Gorilla glass, is an alkali aluminosilicate Japan-made by the Asahi Glass Company. The high-end of Dragontrail’s product line, PRO, actually sports a higher hardness rating than Gorilla Glass 5, according to Vickers Hardness rating. It should be noted that Corning and Asahi use different standards to measure drop testing, so it’s hard to compare them side by side.

Dragontrail glass is more common among mid-tier Chinese-manufactured phones, with Western-marketed ones favoring Gorilla Glass.

Dragontrail PRO

  • Announced: September 2016
  • Application: Smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs
  • Hardness: 542-672 kgf/mm2
  • Scratch-resistant, Crack-resistant
  • More high compression stress available
  • Large-size available
  • Various thickness
  • Higher strength than the conventional product


  • Announced: 2011
  • Application: Smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs
  • Hardness: 595-673 kgf/mm2
  • Scratch-resistant, Crack-resistant
  • High compression stress available
  • Large-size available, Various thickness
  • 6 times stronger than sodalime glass


While there isn’t a “name-brand” manufacturer for Sapphire smartphone glass, it’s relevant enough to mention here. Rather than making a phone’s screen out of glass, as is so common, it’s made of Sapphire – an exceedingly hard (and subsequently brittle) gem. Perhaps the most famous smartphone with a Sapphire display is last year’s special edition HTC U Ultra.

Though it’s extremely scratch-resistant, mitigating the need for a screen-protector, a Sapphire display is also very brittle, and thus prone to shattering on impact. So while a Sapphire coated smartphone display solves one problem – scratches – it makes another one – drops – worse.


Sounds like a buzzword, right? Gotta be something some marketing exec made up and slapped on a smartphone’s box, no?

While 2.5D smartphone glass is purely aesthetic and ergonomic in nature, with no real practical application, it does represent a technological process in making great-looking displays.

Samsung’s Galaxy Edge and Note series use 3D glass in which the entire display curves, resulting in curved sensors beneath the glass. On the other hand, 2.5D glass is completely flat on its face.

This allows OEMs to continue to use technology like Corning Gorilla Glass without trouble. The extra 0.5D comes from the curved edges of the display that drape over the edges of the phone, creating the bezel-less appearance that’s so popular these days. You’ll find 2.5D glass on phones like the LG V30 and the Galaxy S series.