“It’s glass. It will surely break anyway. Why bother?” Glass has been known to be one of the most brittle materials ever, shattering into tiny pieces with little force. But its use as a screen has become quite popular with different smartphone brands.
However, two have stood out: Gorilla Glass and Dragontrail Glass. We will shed some light on how they stack up against each other.
Gorilla Glass Explained
Our smartphones have evolved into a necessity. A recent poll showed that about one-third of our readers check their phones immediately after they wake up.
These smartphones have become part of our lives, demanding that they should become more portable and, at the same time, durable enough to withstand the daily scratches and bumps that come with mobility.
The Origin Story of Gorilla Glass
There have been many popular accidental discoveries that later turned out to be phenomenal. Chinese alchemists created fireworks around 200 BC in their quest for immortality, Fleming and Penicillin in 1928, and Donald Stookey with his discovery of the first glass-ceramic.
Stookey was working on an experiment involving heating Fotoform glass to 600°C. But the furnace was faulty, and the final temperature was as high as 900°C. When Stookey finally took the glass out of the furnace with his tongs, it was hotter than he expected, and the glass slipped and fell to the floor. But then, something extraordinary happened. Stookey expected the glass to break into a million fragments, but it didn’t. Instead, it bounced without shattering!
This discovery was named Pyroceram. It had various physical properties: heat-resistant, hard, strong, and transparent to radio waves and, later on, visible light.
The Corning-iPhone Collaboration
In January 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone at the Moscone Center. But that prototype had a plastic screen, and Jobs, who carried the device in his pocket, complained that it had several nicks and scratches just a day after the unveiling.
Two weeks later, Corning’s Chief Executive, Wendell Weeks, phoned Jobs and informed him of the Gorilla Glass and how it could help solve the iPhone’s problem. The rest, they say, is history.
By 2010, more than 20 major phone manufacturers had incorporated Gorilla Glass in over 200 million devices. Fast-forward to 2023, and Corning’s product dominates the market and is now in its seventh generation, with over 40 phone manufacturers adopting it worldwide.
The Gorilla Glass Generations
The first generation Gorilla launched in 2007, but improvements were made in the generations that came after.
- Gorilla Glass: Launched in 2007, the Gorilla Glass was 1.5mm thick and had an oleophobic coating that reduced the smudges of prints and nicks caused by metallic objects.
- Gorilla Glass 2: The major upgrade on this was reducing its thickness by 20% of the first generation. Corning unveiled this model in 2012, presenting a glass that could withstand up to 50kg of pressure without breaking.
- Gorilla Glass 3: This version, released in 2013, introduced Native Damage Resistance (NDR) technology, enabling the protective covering to resist deeper scratches than Gorilla Glass 2.
- Gorilla Glass 4: Introduced in 2014, the Gorilla Glass 4 focused on drop resistance as Corning conducted studies that discovered that drops caused 70% of screen damage. This model was twice as strong as its previous generation and could survive drops up to one meter high on rough surfaces.
- Gorilla Glass 5: Unveiled in 2016, this model was four times better at resisting drops than the Gorilla Glass 4. Surviving drops from more than one meter, Gorilla Glass 5 was used on more Samsung products like the Note 20.
- Gorilla Glass SR+: This generation was introduced in 2016 and was designed for smartwatches and other wearables. It was more scratch-resistant while delivering optical clarity, toughness, and touch sensitivity.
- Gorilla Glass 6: Launched in mid-2018, it came with many significant improvements. This generation could survive multiple consecutive drops from heights up to 1.6 meters, making it twice as strong as Gorilla Glass 5.
- Gorilla Glass DX/DX+: Two separate models launched in 2019, these protective screens touted an anti-reflective property that endowed them with better visibility while at the same time being more scratch resistant than the sixth-generation Gorilla. They were primarily used on wearable devices and camera lenses where glass thickness was limited.
- Gorilla Glass Victus: Already able to withstand drops from up to two meters, the Gorilla Glass Victus also had double the scratch resistance of the Gorilla Glass 6.
- Gorilla Glass Victus 2: It retains the same scratch resistance and drop durability as the Victus, but this new glass can withstand drops of up to three meters on concrete. This generation was also made for bigger and bulkier phones, as devices are now 15% heavier and have larger screens than a few years ago.
What Is Dragontrail Glass?
Dragontrail glass, launched in 2011, is a lightweight, protective cover glass for devices made of aluminosilicate. Manufactured by Asahi, a Japanese company, Dragontrail is only rivaled by Gorilla Glass. Chances are, if the screen you’re reading this article on doesn’t use glass made by Corning, then it would be straight from Asahi Glass Co. Also, they made it clear right from the onset that they would be competing against Corning.
Dragontrail uses the chemical float process instead of the ion exchange method used by Corning for their Gorilla Glass. The result is a six times stronger product than soda lime glass, scratch-resistant, light, and thin.
Normally, the main chemical components would include soda ash, limestone, and silica, and the mixture is heated to high temperatures reaching around 1600°C until it becomes molten.
But with Dragontrail, the chemical mixtures and the whole process have been made proprietary and not publicly disclosed.
The Dragontrail Generations
With Gorilla Glass appearing as far back as 2007, many would expect they would have had greater experience protecting smartphones and other mobile devices. But Dragontrail, debuting in 2011, had access to the same existing technologies as their rivals. It’s manufacturing strengthened glass for smartphone screens, tablets, PCs, etc.
Consequently, various improvements and variations on different models have been released over the years, with the Dragontrail Pro and Dragontrail X being the most popular Dragontrail Glass variants.
- Dragontrail Pro: Unveiled in 2016, the Dragontrail Pro had rounded edges that give better durability against corner drops. It was also able to withstand bending better than the original Dragontrail.
- Dragontrail X: Being 30% more durable than the earliest Dragontrail, the Dragontrail X is more suitable as a cover glass for high-end devices as it can withstand higher compression stress.
- Dragontrail Star 2: This latest Dragontrail model is used in high-end devices like the Oppo Reno 9 series.
Gorilla vs. Dragontrail: The Vickers Hardness Scale
The Vickers hardness test measures a material’s resistance to indentation. The indentation is performed with a diamond indenter at an angle of 136° between the two surfaces.
The Vickers Hardness scale is measured in HV or hardness number. For context, hardened steel measures 900 on the Vickers scale. So, the higher the number on the scale, the harder it is.
Gorilla Glass Victus 2 features a Vickers hardness of about 595-673, while Dragontrail’s Star 2 is around 570-640.
So, it seems Gorilla Glass is better than Dragontrail Glass, but their difference is minimal.
The Gorilla Glass Is Best for Your Smartphone
Gorilla Glass leads the phone screen market comfortably. Though the latest models from Corning, like the Victus and Victus 2, are ahead of their counterparts in durability and scratch resistance, the Dragontrail Star 2 is just a little behind.
Both will not be scratched by a car, door keys, or even coins, but you should keep them away from sand. And although Victus 2 will survive drops better than Asahi’s models, getting a phone case or an additional screen cover is still advisable, even if the latter will eventually get lots of scratches.
So, which is better? Gorilla Glass, surely. But Dragontrail is a close competitor.