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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

How Apple Developed ‘Ceramic Shield’ Glass for the iPhone 12

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Apple, with the launch of the new iPhone 12 models, introduced a new protective layer for the OLED displays of the current and future iPhones. This glass + ceramic layer has been developed by Apple in partnership with Corning and here is all you need to know about it.

iPhone 12 Ceramic Shield: All You Need to Know

Dubbed the Ceramic Shield, this protective layer covers the front of every iPhone 12 model this year, from the iPhone 12 mini to the Phone 12 Pro Max. Apple’s Materials Engineering team worked closely with Corning to come up with this unique protective layer for the iPhones.

According to Kaiann Drance, the VP of iPhone Product Marketing, this layer would give 4x drop protection for the latest iPhones. “Ceramic Shield goes beyond glass by adding a new high-temperature crystallization step which grows nano-ceramic crystals within the glass matrix to dramatically improve toughness,” said Drance at the iPhone launch event.

Apple ceramic shield feat.
Image Courtesy: Apple

In order to make the layer both tough and optically clear, the team came up with a new process of crystallization. The engineers were able to achieve the feat by precisely controlling the type of crystal and the “degree of crystallinity”. This, according to Drance, made the “Ceramic Shield” tougher than smartphone glass out there in the market.

On its website, Apple has revealed additional details about this all-new material that “dramatically increase the durability of iPhone 12”. There are two factors that make the Ceramic Shield as tough and clear as it is – the nanoscale ceramic crystals and the new dual-ion exchange process.

Nanoscale Ceramic Crystals

Ceramic Shield, as the company mentions, is not glass. Rather, it is an integrated layer of nano-ceramic crystals that are baked right into the front OLED panels of the devices. This enabled the engineering team to develop a strong and clear protective layer in order to make the iPhones durable than ever.

Apple ceramic shield 1
Integrated Nano-Ceramic Crystals | Image Courtesy: Apple

Now, Apple mentions that developing the layer was not an easy task as ceramic is not transparent like glass. So, the team had to come up with an exclusive formula to make the layer tough as well as optically clear.

Dual Ion-exchange Process

Apart from making the Ceramic Shield tough and clear, Apple says they also wanted to make it scratch-resistant. So, the company also used a “dual ion-exchange process” to enable the shield to resist nicks and scratches from everyday use.

This is the same process that Apple employs to make the back glass of its devices scratch-resistant. So, this process, combined with the new crystallization process, truly makes the “Ceramic Shield” tougher than any smartphone material, on paper.

So, this is all about the new Ceramic Shield that comes with the new iPhone 12 models of this year. And since this is the largest year-over-year improvement ever for iPhones, Apple has been stressing the 4x drop protection heavily in its promotional campaigns.

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