Creating an unbreakable phone would be a big advantage for any manufacturer. Why would you buy a phone that could shatter when dropped if you have the option of getting an indestructible one?
Motorola’s already jumped on the marketing opportunity of tough phones with its ShatterShield display on the Moto X Force. But even this super tough smartphone isn’t completely unbreakable. So let’s take a look at the existing tech that could be used to create an indestructible phone.
As we mentioned above, Motorola has taken the lead with unbreakable screens thanks to its ShatterShield display. In reality, you can break the screen on the Moto X Force, but you have to try pretty hard (so hard, in fact, that Motorola gives a 4-year warranty on the screen). And if a part of it does break, the cracks won’t spread.
It’s hard to see how you could ever create a screen that would never break, but a good starting point might be to add a layer of sapphire glass to Motorola’s ShatterShield.
Sapphire glass is already used in some of the world’s most expensive phones, and the only thing harder than it is diamond. So it would take a lot to break a sapphire ShatterShield.
Water damage is the most common cause of broken phones. We seem compelled to drop them in toilets, spill drinks on them and even put them through the washing machine. So if any phone is going to be indestructible, it needs to be waterproof.
Thankfully, this technology’s already been developed to a really high standard. Sony creates watertight bodies for its Xperia smartphones so they can be dunked to a depth of 1.5 metres for half an hour. You can even get water-repellent coatings that you put on your non-waterproof phones to help protect them.
While cracked screens and water damage might be the biggest threats to your smartphone, no one wants their beautifully designed device to get scratched and dented. That’s where Liquidmetal comes in.
Liquidmetal is a futuristic alloy that’s harder than titanium. With the body of your phone made out of such tough material, you wouldn’t need to worry about putting it in your pocket with some keys.
But Liquidmetal’s party trick happens when you warm it up. When it gets to around 100°C, it can be moulded like plastic. That means smartphone shells could be made relatively cheaply from a super-tough metal. The only hurdle to overcome at the moment is mass-producing raw Liquidmetal.
The unbreakable smartphone
In theory, creating a phone that’s very close to unbreakable should be possible right now. Motorola’s ShatterShield display coated with a layer of sapphire glass would front it, while a body made from Liquidmetal and built to Sony’s brilliant waterproof designs would protect the insides.
The only thing standing in the way of the unbreakable phone at the moment is the price of making it.