I'll believe the "unbreakable" smartphone screen when I see it

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| June 7, 2014


I guess it might seem a little dismissive of me to say that the recent news reports citing the invention of “unbreakable” smartphone touchscreens aren’t worth believing. However, in this industry, I’ve learned that it’s best to take each new breakthrough, rumor, and leak with a grain of salt. Generally, when one obstacle has been overcome, another one pops up along the way. For example, smartphone battery life is no longer so atrocious that smartphones have to be connected at the hip to their respective chargers; in that same respect, it’s not because batteries have necessarily gotten better, but rather that smartphones have gotten bigger in order to hold larger batteries. So just when I hear that scientists at the University of Akron have created an “unbreakable” smartphone screen, I’m not entirely convinced that it won’t come with its own set of problems.


I’m sure we’ve all been in a position where we have, or have nearly, experienced the tragedy that is a shattered smartphone screen. You might have heard the deafening crunch of the screen as you (a little too late) realized that you sat down with your phone still resting in your back pocket, or perhaps those nerve wracking moments just after your phone hits the ground face down and you have a 50/50 chance of walking away from this without injury. They’re certainly some of the most first world jarring moments that we can experience, but nonetheless they’re not exactly something that anybody would consider pleasant.


It’s because of this that one might jump for joy at the news that (hopefully) sometime soon, smartphone users have no need to worry about sitting on their smartphone and cracking the screen, or suffering through what seems like an eternity of debating on whether they should flip their phone over to see the aftermath of a grisly drop. On the other hand, I wonder if another issue - a past issue - will come back to haunt smartphone users just the same: scratched screens.


Touchscreen phones have been around for quite some time, but the touchscreens we have on phones today are quite a bit different on ones that were used just before smartphones became as popular as they are. They were touchscreens that used plastic rather than glass, and although they weren’t notorious for cracking, they were very good at becoming so scratched that it was almost as bad as having a cracked screen.


The report of this new “unbreakable” screen did a good job of describing how durable the material is against cracks and shatters, but the article neglected to describe how it would hold up against scratches. Admittedly, I would probably be for a device that suffers from scratches rather than cracks, but between pressure-sensitive touchscreens and heat-sensitive ones, I much prefer the responsiveness that heat-sensitive ones provided instead. As long as this new material responds like the heat-sensitive glass touchscreens, then I probably wouldn’t mind a little scratching over the horrors of a cracked or shattered screen.


So, while I’m hopeful that this new screen is indeed a big step in the right direction for the durability of our precious gadgets, I am not completely getting my hopes up yet.


Readers, what do you think about this new report? Are you excited about these new screens, or do you think that it might cause more problems in other ways? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


Image via Gizmodo