iPhone Flip, super-strong iPhones, more? Apple invests millions into glass company

iPhone 12
(Image credit: DenPhotos/Shutterstock)

One of the biggest smartphone companies you've probably never heard about is Corning, which makes glass for most handsets on the market, and Apple has just invested a huge sum of money into the company.

As reported by The Verge, Apple has invested a huge $45 million into Corning, which is the latest investiture on top of more than 450 million total over the last four years.

That may seem like a lot of money for glass, but Corning Gorilla Glass is used on almost every smartphone and tablet out there, not least Apple's iPhones and iPads. It's a popular material smartphone screens are made of, but premium phones will often use the material for the rear too, as the iPhone 12 range did.

The future is glass

$450 million is a lot of money, and Apple probably isn't investing that much because it's bored - instead, the company likely has some end goal in mind that it needs Corning for.

An obvious example - one that The Verge brings up - is the iPhone Flip, Apple's long-rumored debut foldable phone (the name is a moniker bestowed by fans, and we've no idea what it'll actually be called).

One of the biggest question marks around folding smartphones is their displays, as they need to be both durable and bending, and it's very likely Corning is working on its own solution to this problem. It's possible Apple wants in on that action, ready for its first folding phone.

Perhaps Apple has other plans beyond foldable glass, though: the company has already worked with Corning before on bespoke designs, such as the iPhone 12's strong back.

We could see Corning develop even stronger glass rears for Apple's smartphones and tablets - Apple's devices are notoriously fragile, after all. iPads in particular would benefit from hardy displays, as they're large but thin, which makes them more prone to smashing or cracking than smartphones.

Finally, we could see newer Apple Watch displays that are even more smash- or scratch-proof than previous versions. Corning makes the glass Apple's smartwatches use currently, but as the wearables are designed for exercises and activities, they need to be as strong as possible.

The fruits of this investment will likely be reaped slowly, over the coming years, so we might not see any big changes in the company's devices straight away. But hopefully, in the future, the new glass implementation will improve how we use Apple tech.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist.