Cracked smartphone or tablet screens; is there anything more frustrating and disheartening? Well probably, but that doesn’t make a cracked screen on a phone any less of a bummer. For most people, living with a cracked screen on a tablet or smartphone isn’t an option. They’ll shell out whatever money is necessary to fix or replace their device. For other people, living with a cracked smartphone is the only option. Sure, it’d be nice to replace it, but it would’ve been nicer had it never happened. Smartphones are expensive, and for people who have them, they are incredibly valuable in ways beyond the dollar value. So, how can people prevent their smartphone from getting a cracked screen?
Cases and other forms of smartphone protection
As Benjamin Franklin said, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This is definitely true when it comes to the cost of prevention versus replacement of cracked screens on electronic devices. Unless a case is diamond-encrusted, it will cost far less to protect than a new smartphone or tablet. A good case will cushion the entire device, substantially reducing the chance of a cracked screen. However, many protective cases leave the screen uncovered. Fortunately, there are screen protectors on the market, usually made from a thin sheet of plastic or other similar material. While a screen protector might not necessarily offer any impact protection, it will protect the glass from scratches. Not only are screen scratches unsightly, but they can weaken the integrity of the glass, making them easier to crack.
Cleaning your screen
Aside from scratches, certain chemicals can also weaken screens. According to Lincoln Spector (2010) in PC World, people should never use Windex or alcohol based solvents to clean their screens. Furthermore, screens should never be sprayed directly with a cleaning liquid. If glass cleaners can’t be used to clean touch screen glass, what can? Spector says distilled water is the safest thing to use; however, if for some reason distilled water doesn’t clean the screen, the next best thing to do is use a solution of half distilled water and half white vinegar. Spector says he’s used LCD screen cleaning fluids, but none have worked better than distilled water and white vinegar. Screens should be cleaned with a microfiber cloth using light pressure only. (For more on cleaning your devices: http://www.imore.com/properly-clean-iphone-ipad-ipod-touch).
Watch where you carry your device
Everybody drops a phone from time to time. Hopefully, when they do, they drop it on the couch or the carpeting. No one knows when they’re going to drop their phone; it just happens. However, when someone leaves their home, they know how they’re going to carry their device. Some people stow it safely in a protective pouch in their backpack. Others shove it in their jeans pockets, filled with keys, coins and who knows what else. Ultimately, if people were to consider how the things in their pockets or purses could affect the screens on the devices, they could prevent a lot of damage. Keys, coins and anything else harder than glass can cause scratches and chips.
What are electronics companies doing to solve the cracked screen problem?
Fortunately, manufacturers of touch screens and electronic devices are aware of the problems and grief caused by cracked screens. Some have elected to do things about it, whether through customer service or through research and development. For instance, according to Doug Aamoth (2014), in February 2014, HTC started offering to replace phones with cracked screens for six months after their purchase. Not that people can’t crack their phones later in the life of the device, but it’s a start.
The search for indestructible screens
Perhaps the most famous glass maker for electronic device screens is Corning, the company also famous for inventing Pyrex. While Corning sold Pyrex in 1998, recently it has developed “the fastest-growing product in its 163-year history,” according to Alex Barinka (2014). That product is Gorilla Glass. Like Gorilla Glue, the “gorilla” in Gorilla Glass is supposed to mean it’s strong. Gorilla Glass got its start in 2006, when Apple approached Corning to create a sturdy glass to use for the touch screens on their then-new iPhones. Since 2007, Gorilla Glass has gone through three upgrades, and now more than one-third of Corning’s annual revenue comes from touch screen display technology. What’s more, Corning has spent $726 million on research and development in a 12-month period ending in September 2013, mostly on smartphone screens. Corning’s stock rose 41 percent in 2013, as investors believe the company has an edge on device screens. Considering that their Gorilla Glass screens have been used on Apple and Samsung products, it seems like a safe investment.
Barinka also pointed out that Apple has applied for a patent on a sapphire touch screen. Apple is already using sapphire glass to protect its camera lenses, as well as the fingerprint-identifying Home button on the iPhone 5S. Barinka says that if Apple starts using sapphire touch screens, that it might map out a rough road ahead of Corning’s Gorilla Glass. In either case, it’s good to see companies like these taking the needs – and clumsiness – of their consumers into consideration. Let’s hope that in the near future, cracked screens are a thing of the past.
Aamoth, D. (2014). HTC Offers Free Screen Replacement If You Drop Your Phone. Time.Com, 1.
Barinka, A. (2014). Corning Aims to Reinvent The Screen-Again. Bloomberg Businessweek, (4363), 33.
Spector, L. (2010). Take Care of Your HDTV, Phone, and Camera. PC World, 28(10), 104-106