back to article As Corning unveils its latest Gorilla Glass, we ask: What happened to sapphire mobe screens?

Four years ago at the height of smartwatch hype, it was the most desirable mineral in the world. The tech superpowers jostled to obtain supplies of the material, just as the superpowers jostled to secure their nitrate supplies* ahead of the First World War. Sapphire would become the main ingredient in smartphone displays – as …

I had a Suuntu watch with a sapphire screen. Just grazed it whilst walking past a pedestrian bollard and big scratch on the face. Never believed the hype about scratch proof glass and now had the proof!!

4
10
Silver badge

On the flip side I bought a Revue Thommen in 1999 with a sapphire dial. Even today it looks brand new while the titanium case is as age worn as I am. The sapphire screen on my 10 year old Breitling is equally clear so it's not a one off.

No I don't have a watch problem...

18
0

+1 for Breitling - 20 years on.

5
0
Anonymous Coward

Or you got ripped off, and that isn't really sapphire? The real ones are spelled "Suunto" if I'm not mistaken.

28
0
Silver badge

Same with my Tag.

10 years old and the sapphire glass looks as good as the day I first put the watch on.

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Capt mentioned, "...Breitling - 20 years on."

My $10 silly fake "Rolex" bought in Time Square NYC in 1987 is ~30 years old and in perfect condition.

11
0
Silver badge

Maybe it was one of those ultrahard bollards with diamonds in :-) Rather oversold in my opinion as terrorism and ram raider prevention, but they are pretty!

8
0
Silver badge

The actual Omegas that went to the moon had acrylic crystals, though Omega's replicas have sapphire. It was feared that an accidental smash or possibly thermal shock might result in thousands of sharp sapphire shards floating around the confined space of the spacecraft. That's far more inconvenient than a slightly scratched watch.

14
0
Silver badge

Anybody who says their sapphire watch face scratched

Either got lied to and ripped off, or it was scratched by the wife's wedding ring. Tungsten carbide is the only metal able to scratch sapphire, and to my knowledge no one is making bollards from it.

9
0
Anonymous Coward

Inclined to think possibly knockoff, or if the bollard was cast cement, you managed to graze something rather hard in the aggregate by shear luck.

7
0
Anonymous Coward

Apple hype,just like (c)retina displays, lightening ports and other emotively named horseshit to fool idiots with more money than sense

6
15

Yawn

4
0
Bronze badge

Re: Anybody who says their sapphire watch face scratched

Tungsten carbide is a ceramic, not a metal

10
1
Anonymous Coward

It isnt

scratch proof, it's scratch resistant.

Very very different things indeed.

2
0
Silver badge

@SkippyBing

Use a bit of abrasive creme cleaner (Cif, or whatever it's called in your locale) or 'Brasso' on that Titanium case. Buff out any scratches and go over the whole body, the Ti oxide later will then form again and it'll look as good as new.

1
0
Silver badge

I've a Hamilton with a Sapphire glass cover and it's unmarked despite being my daily wear watch for more than a few years.

I've other watches with 'tough' glass (Seiko Hardlex on one) and they all have scratches and marks.

0
0
Silver badge

it's unmarked despite being my daily wear watch for more than a few years.

Well yes, but I've had cheap watches with plastic screens which didn't get a scratch after years of use, (and I wear my watch with the screen facing out on my wrist).

It comes down to luck a lot of the time. (or perhaps just sods-law, that my £10 watches have been fine, while it's only the expensive ones that ever seem to get scratched/dented)

0
0

I'm fairly sure that my 1965 Seamaster's crystal is acrylic too. 53 years old and still looks unmarked - I say looks unmarked because any scratches just polish out easily.

1
0

Re: Anybody who says their sapphire watch face scratched

Tungsten carbide products are nearly always a cemented carbide matrix, usually with cobalt.

0
0
Silver badge

graze ... by shear luck

I see what you did there.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Anybody who says their sapphire watch face scratched

“Tungsten carbide is a ceramic, not a metal”

Genuine question. Why is Iron alloyed with Carbon a metal (carbon steel) but Tungsten alloyed with Carbon a ceramic?

0
0
WTF?

Seems obvious ...

Twenty plus years of carrying a phone around and never dropped one once. Couldn't people just stop dropping phones, rather than relying on phones not breaking when dropped?

Sort of like TVs: I don't piss down the back of mine, so why should technology protect this particular incident?

Or take out insurance - in this case, a "tax" on the careless.

22
25
Stop

Re: Seems obvious ...

Dropping phones is rarely the issue it's the insistence on not keeping the phone in a decent case is where the idiocy lies.

The manufacturers are partly to blame by creating products that look fantastic: all glass and shiny and sleek lines and stuff! And who doesn't want to display their awesome naked beauty :)

Thing is, even a 5 eurodollarpound case obviates a trip to the repair shop if people weren't so vain and lazy.

22
8
Gold badge

Re: Seems obvious ...

The problem is that a lot of the cases are inconvenient. And either make the phone hard to access in a hurry (say when they're ringing) - or are uncomfortable to hold.

Really the manucturers should design the phones to be protected - given that they've got these honking great vulnerable screens in the middle of them. Or if not, sell them with a reasonably priced and well designed case.

15
2

Re: Seems obvious ...

Yep, the first thing I do is buy a case to protect the shiny - one that protects the screen too (Usually before the phone arrives). My phones tend to last until something dies or becomes unsupported...

13
0
Silver badge
Pint

Re: Seems obvious ...

Couldn't people just stop dropping phones, rather than relying on phones not breaking when dropped?
Next you'll be telling us to stop using this kind of glass.-------->

10
0
Happy

Re: Seems obvious ...

I tend to agree, mine lives in a case and then in a shirt pocket. I answer via a button on the headphone since it is to darned hard to find any other way to answer the darned thing. Since I am likely doing something like driving, (so no phone handling), dog walking, grocery juggling or another two handed task, adding a phone to the mix is for the birds. I have dropped in once and tested the strength of the walls via its projectile properties two or three times, but it is still OK: cases are wonderful.

6
0
Silver badge

Re: Seems obvious ...

"it's the insistence on not keeping the phone in a decent case is where the idiocy lies"

Not wanting to use a case isn't idiocy. Cases have downsides that not everyone is willing to put up with. Personally, I haven't used a case in a decade, and it's never been an issue. But I treat my phone like what it is: a sensitive electronic device.

15
3
Silver badge
Pint

Re: Seems obvious ...

IaS observed, "...cases are inconvenient... ...hurry....ringing..."

Some combinations of phones and cases use wee magnets to (optionally) trigger the 'Answer Call' function when the case cover is lifted opened. Can be very convenient.

Some also have nifty cut-outs in the case's cover, making visible a subsection of the screen to show the Caller ID information, so you'll know in advance of opening the cover.

It's almost as if they have brilliant product designers on staff.

12
0
Silver badge

Re: Seems obvious ...

>I haven't used a case in a decade... ...I treat my phone like what it is: a sensitive electronic device

Sensitive devices and instruments should be kept in cases.

14
1
Silver badge
Facepalm

Asking people to not drop phones

Seems a little optimistic. That's like saying we don't need seat belts or air bags because you have been driving for 20 years and never been in an accident, so everyone should just stop crashing.

26
2

Re: Seems obvious ...

My previous phone had a 'case' consisting a replacement back with a flip cover to protect the screen. It was perfect, as slim and light as it could get while sturdy enough to protect the screen.

My new phone, it's impossible to replace the back as a consumer, so the phone has to get a sleeve with a hard backing and a flip cover. It completely destroyed any advantage the phone had in being thinner and is in fact almost 50% as fat as my previous phone, even though the new phone is about half as thick.

12
1
Orv
Silver badge

Re: Seems obvious ...

The last phone I shattered was *because* of the case. I had a Sony Xperia Z4 Compact in a flip case. One day I pulled the case out of my pocket without having a good enough grip on the back part, and it flips open on the hinge, with the crack-the-whip effect *slinging* the phone out of the case and onto the pavement. Since it was a plastic phone without much of a bezel, the impact was transferred directly to the edge of the glass.

My current phone is a ZTE Axon Mini with an aluminum body and fairly fat top and bottom bezels, and it's got dinged corners from being dropped a few times, but it hasn't broken yet. Why have I dropped it? Well, the display goes right up to the sides, and the case edges are rounded to give the impression of thinness, so there's really only about a 1/8" wide area on each edge that I can hold it by without triggering the touchscreen.

9
1
Silver badge

Re: Seems obvious ...

Cats like to lie on a warm place...

2
1

Re: Seems obvious ...

"Cases have downsides that not everyone is willing to put up with."

Clear TPU Case. Search it. Use it. Love it.

3
1
Silver badge

Re: Seems obvious ...

'Couldn't people just stop dropping phones, rather than relying on phones not breaking when dropped?'

Relying on people not making mistakes rather than designing out the problem is doomed to futility. And a lot of expensive mistakes.

8
1
Silver badge

Re: Seems obvious ...

I keep my phone tethered to the wall in the house by a wire - that way I don't lose it and rarely drop it

10
0
Silver badge

Re: Seems obvious ...

good idea but a shit to use in town.

4
0

Re: Seems obvious ...

In my 22 years of driving, I've never crashed a car or hit a pedestrian, so I don't see why car manufacturers spend billions and billions every year on R&D for safety. Can't people just stop crashing, rather than relying on airbags, seatbelts, crumple zones, etc? Imagine the cool cars we could have if they didn't need to be safe!

Natural selection; a "tax" on the careless.

0
1

I have dropped a mobile*, once, it landed corner first onto a concrete step. As it was a nice solid HTC P6500 the only damage was a bit of a dent in the case, the internals and screen survived and carried on working.

The number of phones I have damaged by users at work, probably around 10% per year that I know about (I suspect some get 3rd party screens fitted without them telling me), suggests it's not that uncommon a problem though so anything that reduces the damage is a "good thing".

*Juggling phone, car keys, laptop and various bits of kit as I exited through a fire door.

6
0
Facepalm

Phone appearance

Phone manufacturers go to great lengths to ensure that their phone are sleek, slim and sexy. That is all great, but they are also so delicate that the first thing most users do is pack them in a case totally hiding over 50% of the phone, and bulking it up.

Why can't phones be made a bit bigger and tougher...with maybe room for a bigger battery while they are at it? There are still some "rugged" version out there, but they tend to go to the extreme. A nice consumer middle ground would be nice.

47
0
Silver badge

Re: Phone appearance

"Why can't phones be made a bit bigger and tougher...with maybe room for a bigger battery while they are at it?"

I can't upvote this enough.

22
0
Silver badge

Re: Phone appearance

Why can't phones be made a bit bigger and tougher...with maybe room for a bigger battery while they are at it?

Cat S60. Works for me.

6
1
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: Phone appearance

Super +1 I really miss the nearly indestructible Nokia's of yesteryear I had 1 which survived both the washing machine and bearing dropped over 30 feet out a window when I was doing a cable install!

Yes, I am a forgetful klutz but I fail to see why only fashionistas are catered for by phone designers these days.

10
0
Silver badge

Re: Phone appearance

Physics demands that to reduce the force on a phone compressible material should surround it, we all agree in that. What is the advantage of incorporating this material into the phone itself, as opposed to allowing a user to fit a case of their own choosing?

I can't cheat physics, I know my screen can either be really hard or really tough. I therefore fit an aftermarket hard glass screen protector. It itself has cracked through point impact - though barely visibly - but the expensive phone screen is unscathed.

6
0
Silver badge

Re: Phone appearance

"What is the advantage of incorporating this material into the phone itself, as opposed to allowing a user to fit a case of their own choosing?"

Building the phone like that is better than using a case because if it's part of the phone's design, then you can avoid the various issues that cases introduce that make it a bit more annoying to actually use the phone. For instance, cases make buttons and jacks more recessed than they would otherwise be.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Phone appearance

Cases also avoid some of the issues that making them built in would cause like plastic/rubber stuff getting worn out looking, and gross from oils from your hands etc. over months/years. Just take a look at some people's phone cases, and tell me that's what you want your phone to look like after a year or two.

No thanks. People who want a more durable phone without the horror of having buttons and ports slightly recessed can buy the ones built for that purpose. Oh, you don't like the lack of selection? Well I'm sure people who put all those cases with different patterns and looks don't want the lack of selection that would result from having built in cases in a handful of colors, either. Why should they compromise to give you the wide selection you feel you're entitled to?

The market has spoken, and people don't want phones with built in cases.

4
0
Orv
Silver badge

Re: Phone appearance

For instance, cases make buttons and jacks more recessed than they would otherwise be.

This.

I have yet to have a case that didn't require me to carve it away around the headphone jack in order to plug things in securely, which makes the whole thing even uglier.

3
0
Orv
Silver badge

Re: Phone appearance

Part of the problem is unless you buy one of the five or six current flagship phones on the market, you're not going to find a case for it unless maybe it comes with one.

9
3

Re: Phone appearance

Why can't phones be made a bit bigger and tougher...with maybe room for a bigger battery while they are at it?

Another option is LG X Venture. I think Samsung also makes an adventure phone.

https://www.lg.com/us/cell-phones/lg-US701-unlocked-x-venture

Now if you also want flagship features with that, I doubt you'll find it. Flagships are already up to $1000. Adding these toughness features on top would bump that price to probably $1400, and the phone would have no buyers.

3
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018