Smartphone manufacturers are looking to improve the materials (and in particular the metals) used in their phones. It has been predicted that the next iPhone will use a new aluminium for its metal case to avoid any so-called “Bendgate” scandals next time around. A good candidate is aluminium 7000, an alloy which is around 1.6 times stronger than the metal on existing iPhones. Aluminium 7000 is used in racing bikes, for example, and the metal itself is alloyed with zinc.
Smartphones to use better aluminium alloys in future
Samsung chose to use metal instead of plastic for its latest Galaxy S6 smartphone, specifically it chose aluminium alloy 6013, combined with Gorilla Glass 4 from Corning. The metal alloy is mainly used in aircraft, cars, and yachts, and is said to be 1.5 times strong and 1.2 times more scratch resistant than aluminium 6063, one of the most common metals used in smartphones.
Apple does however have exclusive rights to use LiquidMetal in phones, which is more than twice as strong as aluminium 7000. However, so far Apple has only used the special alloy for the SIM ejector tool that comes with all iPhones, and hasn’t used it on a wider scale, probably due to its high cost.
Meanwhile, the Gorilla Glass 4 found on the front and back of the Galaxy S6 is 25% thinner and more resistant to damage than Gorilla Glass 3. Sapphire glass is increasingly becoming popular as well – there’s still rumours that the iPhone 6s will come with Sapphire glass (Kyocera and Huawei have already released sapphire phones). The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were said to come with sapphire, but one of the manufacturers, GT Advanced Technologies, filed for bankruptcy last year.
At the moment, Coring is also working on its Project Fire effort, which aims to mix sapphire and Gorilla Glass for the best of both worlds – sapphire is very scratch-resistant but shatters easily, while Gorilla Glass is very strong and slightly flexible,but more vulnerable to scratches. The new smartphone display glass product is set to be released this year and should make its way into smartphones in the near future.