AA’s HTC One vs. iPhone 5 Drop Test Shows the Need for Sapphire Glass

Android Authority's Drop Test -- iPhone 5 shattered display

[Photo Credit: Android Authority]

Joshua Vergara from Android Authority (AA) recently performed a drop test with two of 2013’s top smartphones: the HTC One and the iPhone 5.
Both phones have aluminum chassis, aluminum being a more sturdy material than Apple’s former glass backing. The difference in the two phones, however, concerns the phones’ glass displays. The torture tests were performed at the Hollywood conservatory, across from the famous “Hollywood” sign that the Shrek movies renamed “Far, Far Away”.

Vergara decided to test out the durability of the two smartphones by first, dropping them from the pocket, then the chest level, and finally, from ear level (the level you reach when talking on the phone). When the iPhone 5 was dropped from the pocket, the glass display was cracked on one side. After being dropped from chest level and ear level, the iPhone 5 took a further beating to its glass display. On the other hand, the HTC One did experienced some dents in the aluminum chassis and the loss of the speaker grille on the front, but the phone experienced no glass display cracks until the final test — when it was dropped directly on its face.

The results of the drop test show that both forms are crafted well, considering that aluminum fares better against the elements than glass backing. At the same time, however, both phones have glass displays that are yet not durable enough to withstand hard cracks and falls, particularly on concrete surfaces (as did Vergara’s Drop Test). One solution that the tech world is longing for as of late concerns the use of Sapphire glass for smartphone and tablet displays. This is what ExtremeTech had to say about sapphire glass:

“Sapphire glass is around three times the strength and scratch resistance of Corning’s Gorilla Glass, [making] an almost perfect smartphone screen. There’s one caveat: according to a market analyst, a sheet of Gorilla Glass costs around $3, while the same piece of sapphire glass would cost $30. Thanks to increasing competition, though, the cost of sapphire glass is dropping. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a high-end smartphone (such as the iPhone) use a sapphire screen in the next few years. It’s worth noting that the iPhone 5 already uses sapphire glass to protect the rear camera lens, so Apple is certainly aware of sapphire’s potential” (Sebastian Anthony, “Your next smartphone might use sapphire glass instead of Gorilla Glass”).

ExtremeTech also provides this information about sapphire:

* sapphire is a crystal form of alumium (alumina)
* ten times more resistant than the glass used on windows
* easy to make
* a weaker type of diamond
* more abundant material than diamond

These factors, coupled with the iPhone 5’s sapphire glass lens, make the material one to be coveted in the days and years to come. You may be looking at drop tests with no glass display breaks sometime soon.