Though Apple's famously-rumored quest for sapphire screens didn't really pan out as predicted, it could soon have something equally scratch-resistant from Corning. The company announced today that it is working on a new type of glass for screens that is almost as scratch-resistant as sapphire, while retaining the durability of its Gorilla Glass.
The announcement came during an investor meeting today, and was reported originally by CNET:
"We told you last year that sapphire was great for scratch performance but didn't fare well when dropped," Clappin, president of Corning Glass Technologies, told the crowd at the event. "So, we created a product that offers the same superior damage resistance and drop performance of Gorilla Glass 4 with scratch resistance that approaches sapphire."
Corning is currently using the term "Project Phire" for the new glass, and plans to get it out to phone manufacturers sometime later this year.
The interesting question about Corning's new project is whether it will make it onto the next iteration of the iPhone. Gorilla Glass has been the go-to for screens on the iPhone since its inception, but things looked to be taking a turn when it was rumored that Apple would go with sapphire displays for its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. Apple already uses sapphire glass to cover its TouchID sensor and camera on the iPhone, so the idea of a full-on sapphire screen seemed like the an obvious expansion of the material. However, that approach was ultimately abandoned when GT Advanced, the manufacturer responsible for production of the sapphire displays, wasn't able to meet production demands, and ultimately filed for bankruptcy.
We already know that the some models of the Apple Watch will feature a sapphire display. However, it will definitely be interesting to see if Apple flirts with sapphire yet again for the iPhone, or if Corning's Project Phire can sway the company back.