Corning Gorilla Glass Victus display on smartphone puck
Corning

Gorilla Glass Victus was launched in 2020, making it the latest version of the popular scratch-resistant glass for smartphones and tablets.

The technology has been protecting a wide variety of phones for years now, but it’s not the only solution on the market. Dragontrail Glass, sapphire, and tempered glass are all popular options. So how do they all differ from one another? Which one is best? We’ve got a few answers.

How are they made?

Gorilla Glass

A small sheet of Corning Gorilla Glass.

Gorilla Glass has gone through many iterations. The first generation of the product launched in 2007, followed by Gorilla Glass 2 in 2012 and Gorilla Glass 3 in 2013. Many flagships released in 2018 feature Gorilla Glass 5, which first released in 2016, with Gorilla Glass 6 coming in 2018. But the latest Gorilla Glass version is Gorilla Glass Victus, launched in 2020, and found on many premium devices in 2021.

The basic process is the same for each generation, using an “ion-exchange process.” This is essentially a strengthening process where the glass is placed in a bath of molten salt measuring 400 degrees Celsius (752 degrees Fahrenheit), according to its manufacturer Corning. Potassium ions in the bath create a “layer of compressive stress” on the glass, basically giving it added strength.

Gorilla Glass 6 is equivalent to Gorilla Glass 5 in scratch resistance (which in turn is similar to Gorilla Glass 4) but is designed to survive multiple drops from even greater heights. According to Corning’s press materials, it can survive, on average, 15 drops onto rough surfaces from a height of one meter and is up to “2x better” than Gorilla Glass 5. Meanwhile, Gorilla Glass 5 was designed to withstand drops from 1.6 meters, with the glass holding firm 80% of the time.

As for the latest version? Gorilla Glass Victus is designed to withstand drops from up to two meters, while also offering double the scratch resistance of Gorilla Glass 6. That’s a pretty hefty improvement over previous versions.

Dragontrail Glass

Made by Japanese giant Asahi Glass, Dragontrail is probably the second most popular brand with manufacturers.

The company uses a so-called float process to create its glass, sending liquid glass over a furnace of molten tin. Particles are then added for strengthening before the glass is quickly cooled and sent for cutting.

Dragontrail Glass comes in a few variants — Dragontrail, Dragontrail X, and Dragontrail Pro. 2016’s Dragontrail Pro is the latest product, delivering 30% better durability against corner drops thanks to a rounded glass edge. Asahi adds that it should also withstand more bending than standard Dragontrail.

Notably, Google’s Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL smartphones use Dragontrail glass instead of the more popular Gorilla Glass. This glass has also been used on more recent devices like the Realme X7 Max.

Tempered glass

The cheapest solution of the lot, tempered glass, is the material of choice for many third-party screen protectors.

According to Scientific American, tempered glass is first cut to size and then subjected to heating in a tempering oven. The glass is heated to just over 600 degrees Celsius (1,112 degrees Fahrenheit), followed by a blast of cold air for a few seconds.

The process makes the outer surface of the glass cooler than the inside, which creates compression on the outside and tension on the inside, giving us stronger glass.

Sapphire

The HTC U Ultra with Sapphire Glass.

Sapphire is the most expensive option on this list, which means it’s mostly restricted to smaller bits like camera lenses and watch faces (including a few Apple Watch models). But we also saw HTC release a version of the U Ultra with a sapphire screen back in 2017.

According to a 2014 Pocketnow video, Sapphire screens are made by placing a sapphire seed at the bottom of a barrel. This barrel then gets filled with condensed corundum and leftover uncrystallized sapphire from previous batches. The barrel is then put inside a furnace, which heats the materials at up to 2,200 degrees Celsius.

The process takes from 16 to 17 days and results in a 115-kilogram hunk of sapphire. From here, a block is cut out for a smartphone display, then polished and cut further.

Which one is better?

The Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra durability test.

Which is better depends on what you think is most important: scratch resistance, weight and thinness, affordability, impact resistance, or a delicate balance of several of these. We use the Mohs scale to measure the scratch resistance of minerals and other similar materials. A higher number on the scale means better scratch resistance, with talcum rated at one and diamond at 10. A material with a higher rating is also capable of scratching a material with a lower rating, such as a diamond-tipped pick scratching a quartz panel.

A third-party test by YouTube channel JerryRigEverything has shown that Gorilla Glass 5 can withstand being scratched with picks as hard as five on the Mohs scale, so it’s fair to say Gorilla Glass 5 (and probably Gorilla Glass 6, given its similarities to 5) is at least a five. A Corning representative previously told us that all glass falls between five and six on the scale.

Glass-based solutions seem to be similarly tough in the scratch resistance department when it comes to typical usage

The YouTuber later tested the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, which offers Gorilla Glass Victus. He found that the glass also started to scratch with picks rated six on the Mohs scale. Either way, it looks like Gorilla Glass and Dragontrail Glass should both fare well enough in terms of everyday scratch resistance.

As for tempered glass, one mobile chain store claimed it’s yet to see a tempered glass protector emerge unscathed after a six or seven-point pick scratching. Tempered glass protectors are usually more scratch-resistant than plastic, however, which has a hardness of between two and four on the scale.

Charging Apple Watch Series 6 displays Nightstand mode on a bedside table
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Sapphire measures nine on the Mohs scale, just behind diamonds. So expect sapphire-clad devices to fare better in your purse or occupied pocket.

Repair chain UBreakiFix conducted a scratch test on both a sapphire screen protector and Gorilla Glass 5. The firm used a tungsten pick, which was rated nine on the Mohs scale. The Corning solution got scratched, but nothing happened to the sapphire protector.

Another way to measure these materials is the Vickers hardness test, which uses a diamond-tipped indenter to measure a material’s hardness (a higher figure is better). Gorilla Glass Victus has a Vickers hardness of between 590 and 651, according to Corning’s product sheet. Dragontrail manufacturer Asahi Glass claims its glass has a Vickers hardness of between 595 and 673.

There isn’t much difference between the two then, as there’s some significant overlap. A look at sapphire’s hardness rating further illustrates this point. Sapphire boasts a Vickers hardness of over 2,000, with one study putting it at roughly 2,700. In other words, sapphire is least likely to be scratched out of all these solutions.

What about bending or impact?

Scratches are just one major part of the toughness equation — drops are another major challenge. After all, many people buy cases because of accidental drops rather than everyday scratches.

According to the earlier UBreakIFix video, Gorilla Glass can bend more during a four-point bend test than sapphire. Sapphire might be more scratch-resistant, but its ability to withstand a drop-induced bend or deformation isn’t as great as Gorilla Glass.

This result is echoed by Corning’s own “strength after abrasion damage” test, which tosses the glass sheets into a barrel filled with various items and tumbles them for 45 minutes. Afterward, the sheets are removed and subject to load testing. Corning claims the sapphire sheet broke after a load of 161lbs (73kg) was placed on it, while its own solution withstood over 430lbs (195kg) of force. To be fair, it’s an in-house test of Corning’s making, but it’s still a revealing result.

Dragontrail manufacturer Asahi hasn’t published a four-point bend test video for its solution, merely showing off a three-point test video from 2011 with up to 60 kilograms (132 lbs) of force applied. It’s not the ideal comparison, given the differing test setups (and older glass in the case of Dragontrail).

The closest we get to an ideal comparison is a 2013 video by Corning, showing Gorilla Glass 2 and 3 faring better than an unnamed competitor’s product (presumably Dragontrail).

Read more: Our guide to picking the best case for your new phone

Furthermore, unlike Gorilla Glass Victus and its 2-meter survivability rating, Asahi hasn’t disclosed any specific height ratings for Dragontrail Glass impact resistance. Instead, the company only says the edge of its latest Dragontrail Pro boasts 30% better durability than the previous generation. Corning has previously claimed Gorilla Glass 4 is up to twice as tough in drop tests than rival products (again, presumably Dragontrail), let alone Gorilla Glass 6 and Victus.

Corning claims Gorilla Glass 6 survives an average of 15 drops from one meter onto a rough surface. Meanwhile, “alternative aluminosilicate glasses” break on the first drop, according to the firm. As for the Victus glass, the company simply said the glass can survive “multiple drops” from two meters.

Conclusion

Corning Gorilla Glass Victus Knoop Scratch Test
Corning

At this point, all major protective solutions are pretty tough on scratches. Dragontrail and Gorilla Glass seem to be evenly matched in terms of everyday usage (although Corning’s solutions seem to have the edge in tougher situations), while tempered glass doesn’t seem to be far behind at all. Sapphire has a runaway lead over all three solutions but costs significantly more.

In bending and impact tests things get much murkier. There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of like-for-like testing between Gorilla Glass and Dragontrail. Only one thing is for sure: sapphire is comparatively horrible for flexing and dropping.

Corning’s drop protection for Gorilla Glass 6 is a big improvement over predecessors and rivals. And Gorilla Glass Victus is only improving on GG6, as it targets greater heights and multiple drops. Asahi’s silence on drop tests suggests it’s lagging behind, though it seems to be making solid progress with folding displays.

What do you prefer in a display glass? Better scratch resistance or impact resistance? Let us know in the comments.