Apple is awarding Corning another $45 million investment from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund, in addition to the $450 million it’s already given to the US-based company over the past four years. According to Apple’s announcement, the investment will “expand Corning’s manufacturing capacity in the US and drive research and development into innovative new technologies that support durability and long-lasting product life.”
Corning provides glass for a variety of Apple products, including the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. The two companies have a history dating back to the original iPhone. Last year, they collaborated on the iPhone 12 lineup’s Ceramic Shield technology, which Apple claims is “tougher than any smartphone glass” and makes its latest flagships four times more resistant to damage from drops. As well as Apple, Corning’s Gorilla Glass is used in phones from countless Android manufacturers including Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra.
Apple doesn’t say exactly how Corning will use the $45 million investment, but its timing coincides with recent reports that Apple could launch a foldable iPhone in 2023. Back in 2019 we heard Corning was developing a bendable version of its glass, and last February the company said it expects devices using the technology to reach the market in 12 to 18 months. If it works, the glass could allow for durable foldable smartphones that don’t require a layer of plastic protection used in Samsung’s latest foldables.
“Today, when you buy a phone with Gorilla Glass, you’re touching glass … that’s what we’re working towards,” Corning said of its ambitions for bendable glass last year.