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Update: Samsung and Corning have semi-officially responded to this, more information here.
“The glass is designed to improve the drop performance and not necessarily designed to improve the scratch performance,” Amin told me. He went on to say, “When we consider all hardness tests, GG5 is actually harder than GG4. Based on our testing, for scratch performance as well as the hardness testing we do that’s widely used in the industry, we believe that GG5 should be performing similarly to GG4.”
In the early days of smartphones, owners were just as concerned about scratches to the display as they were damage from drops. This has largely been mitigated thanks to continued refinements to hardened cover glass which has allowed companies like Corning to turn their attention to better protecting devices against gravity.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 is among the first (known) smartphones to ship with Corning’s latest hardened glass, Gorilla Glass 5. The handset has been receiving rave reviews online but according to YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, you’ll almost certainly want to outfit your new Note 7 with a screen protector.
In his durability test of Samsung's latest, the YouTuber found the Note 7 with Gorilla Glass 5 to be just one step above plastic on the hardness scale. Where most phones he tests don’t scratch until around level six, the Note 7 exhibits scratching at level three.
Assuming this isn’t an isolated event, it would seem that in Corning’s quest to make a cover glass that is less susceptible to drops, they’ve significantly sacrificed its scratch resistance properties. This doesn’t bode well for the next generation of mobile devices as many – including the upcoming iPhone 7 – are expected to use a coating of Gorilla Glass 5 over their displays.
A simple tempered glass screen protector will solve the Note 7’s scratching dilemma but it’s hard not to feel like this is a step in the wrong direction for Corning, even if Gorilla Glass 5 is more shatter resistant.