What just happened? Corning is combining elements of Gorilla Glass with its flexible Willow Glass to make a product tailored for bendable phones. It won't be ready until foldable phones go mainstream, however, so at least another few years at the earliest.

Consumers may not be ready, the software may not be ready and the hardware may not be ready but that's not stopping manufacturers from rushing foldable smartphones out the door. Indeed, the foldable smartphone era has arrived.

Early adopters will likely scoop up the devices regardless of price or polish and software can be tweaked over-the-air as the form factor matures. The hardware, however, that's something you're stuck with and early examples of foldable smartphones make some critical compromises.

Chief among them is the display and more specifically, the material that covers the actual panel.

The first batch of foldable phones like those from Samsung and Huawei are using plastic polymers as "cover glass." This material is more flexible than glass, sure, but it's also easier to scratch. Worse yet, over time, it will crease, leaving an unsightly wrinkle along the fold of your phone.

Fortunately, Corning is working on a solution.

The Gorilla Glass maker is developing an ultrathin glass that is 0.1 millimeters thick and can bend to a 5 millimeter radius. The problem they're facing currently is delivering a product that covers the demands of all customers simultaneously.

John Bayne, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Corning Gorilla Glass, told Wired that they have glasses they have sampled to customers that are functional but they're not quite meeting all of the requirements. "People either want better performance against a drop event or a tighter bend radius. We can give them one or the other; the key is to give them both."

Lead image via TechRadar