Apple gives $200 million to iPhone glassmaker to promote U.S. manufacturing

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Corning employees in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.
Photo: Apple

Apple has awarded Corning the first grant of its $1 billion investment aimed at boosting high-tech manufacturing jobs in the United States. The glassmaker will receive $200 million.

Corning has worked with Apple for a decade — ever since the original iPhone’s Gorilla Glass — to create the glass found on its devices. Apple’s contribution as part of its “Advanced Manufacturing Fund” will support Corning’s R&D, capital equipment needs, and state-of-the-art glass processing.

Everything we think we know about the iPhone 7

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The iPhone 7 is getting some big upgrades.
Photo: PConline

The grand unveiling of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus is still weeks away, but this year you don’t need to wait for Tim Cook to take the stage to find out all the new features.

Months of leaks have already given us a sneak peek at a lot of the big changes coming to the iPhone. And contrary to early reports that this year’s device will be boring, there’s actually a whole lot to get excited about.

Here’s what to expect from the iPhone 7, based on Cult of Mac’s analysis of everything we’ve seen from reliable leakers and the Apple rumor mill.

Corning’s new Gorilla Glass could make iPhone 7 display super tough

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Dropping the iPhone 7 might not be a disaster every time.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

Breaking the screen on your next iPhone is going to be a little bit harder, if Apple goes with the next version of Corning’s Gorilla Glass.

The company debuted Gorilla Glass 5 today that is destined to arrive on smartphones later this year, offering better durability than any other version when its dropped from 5 feet or lower.

Fingerprint-scanning Gorilla Glass could eliminate iPhone’s Home button

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Say goodbye to the Home button as you know it.
Photo: Apple

We are one step closer to the end of Touch ID as we know it.

Following on from Apple’s recent patent filing concerning “finger biometric sensing pixels” for future iPhones, tech R&D company Sonovation has announced that it’s discovered a way of putting ultrasonic biometric sensors under Gorilla Glass — by bonding the sensors directly onto the display panel. Better yet, it works accurately even when fingers are wet, dirty, or oily.

New sapphire glass screens could be coming to the iPhone 6s

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Apple is gobbling up sapphire supplies at an alarming rate of knots. Photo:
New sapphire glass technology could make it as good as Gorilla Glass. Photo: GT Advanced Technologies
Photo: GT Advanced Technologies

In the lead-up to the iPhone 6, everyone expected Apple to give it a sapphire glass display. Sapphire glass, it was said, would lead to nigh-indestructible screens: Scratched and shattered iPhone displays would become a thing of the past.

Of course, we all know what happened from there. Apple’s sapphire partner, GT Advanced Technologies, completely collapsed, and the iPhone 6 shipped with plain old Gorilla Glass. Yet even if it hadn’t, Apple might not have used sapphire glass, which was much more reflective and harder to read in ambient light than Gorilla Glass.

But here’s the key word: was. A new technology has emerged that might make sapphire glass every bit as good when it comes to viewability as Gorilla Glass.

How Corning won Apple back and built the strongest Gorilla Glass yet

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Corning's Gorilla Glass. Photo: Corning
Gorilla Glass is the go-to material for today's touchscreens. Photo: Corning

Corning’s relationship with Apple looked doomed earlier this year. Having manufactured the touchscreens for every iPhone since 2007, the Gorilla Glass bosses were all but sure they were being ditched in favor of synthetic sapphire crystal, set to be supplied by Apple’s hot new partner, GT Advanced Technologies.

But while Apple’s affair with GT has imploded spectacularly, Corning is back on Cupertino’s crush list after stepping in at the eleventh hour to create super-sized displays for the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. Now Corning is convinced its latest technological advance — Gorilla Glass 4, its toughest version yet — will banish sapphire suitors for the immediate future.

“Sapphire is a really, really nice material that’s very good for reducing scratches,” Dave Velasquez, Corning’s director of marketing and commercial ops, told Cult of Mac. “However, we feel very strongly that glass is the best material for touch panel cover glass. When you weigh up everything from cost to drop-testing, to the amount of energy that’s needed to make it, in our opinion Gorilla Glass is clearly the best material to use.”

Your iPhone is an awesome chemistry kit

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What’s your iPhone made of? Just looking at it, you might dismiss it as just a slab of metal and glass, with a dose of magic inside. But our iPhones are actually portable chemistry labs, and there are an incredible number of complex chemical functions happening underneath the glass and metal shell that keep your iPhone ringing.

What’s tougher, Gorilla Glass or Sapphire? The answer might surprise you

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Depending on who and when you ask, the iPhone 6 may or may not ship with a futuristic new Sapphire Glass display. Widely rumored to be nigh-invulnerable, Sapphire Glass is widely believed to be the technology that will make shattered iPhones a thing of the past. But will it really?

Seeking answers, the repair experts over at uBreakiFix have taken a piece of Gorilla Glass and a piece of Sapphire Glass through a series of torture tests to see which resists damage better. And the truth is that Sapphire isn’t actually as good as Gorilla Glass in one key scenario.