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Thinner iPad 2 glass: Will it break?

Gregg Keizer, Computerworld | March 17, 2011
Apple's decision to shave the iPad 2's profile and reduce its weight may mean a slight increase in broken screens, a repair expert said today.

"But the second generation [iPad] uses a very, very flexible material that behaves quite differently. It's almost like plastic," said Lam. "We had a very tough time getting it to shatter, and finally had to do an edge cut to make it break."

Lam said that the new material resembles the aluminosilicate glass used on both the front and back of the iPhone 4. Last summer, several analysts connected Apple's use of the aluminosilicate material to Corning's "Gorilla Glass."

The iPad 2 uses something similar, but because Apple didn't call out "aluminosilicate" in any description of the tablet -- as it did with the iPhone 4 -- Lam believes it's not sourced from Corning. One possibility: Asahi Glass Co.'s "Dragontrail Glass" technology.

"Dragintrail is very similar to Gorilla Glass," said Lam.

Lam said it was impossible to tell whether the iPad 2 uses Dragontrail, but the timing of the Japanese company's January 2011 announcement (download PDF) was intriguing. Because iSuppli believes that Apple isn't getting its iPad glass from Corning, it may be obtaining it from Asahi.

The experts also split on whether Apple's new Smart Cover accessory will be enough to protect the iPad 2's screen from accidents.

"The Smart Cover will provide a decent level of protection," said Vronko. "The screen is tough enough, and you usually don't run into as many [potential breakage] situations with the iPad as with the iPhone, so I don't think you need a whole lot more than the Smart Cover."

Apple's Smart Cover is a polyurethane or leather screen cover that magnetically attaches to the iPad 2. The covers retail for $39 (polyurethane) and $69 (leather).

Lam disagreed with Vronko. "I doubt [a Smart Cover] will provide protection if you drop your iPad," he said.

A search of Apple's iPad support forum turned up no reports of iPad 2 screen breakage problems by new owners of the tablet, which has been in consumers' hands less than a week.

 

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