Are screen protectors worth it? There is a huge selection of accessories and add-ons for the modern-day smartphone—whether a pair of headphones that fit your ears just right, an unlimited data plan, 4G networks, 5G coverage, a case to define the aesthetics that matches your style, or a screen protector to ensure the protection of your often very pricey investment; yes, a screen protector is worth it.
Usually buying a phone nowadays, is more than just buying a phone. But with so many accessories, it’s hard to know which ones are worth it, and which ones are just fodder in a seemingly overly saturated marketplace.
Are Screen Protectors Worth it? My Story
A couple years back my brother was due for an upgrade on his smartphone, and went to the store to get a new one. After about an hour or two of going through the paces required to get the most out of his upgrade, and finally dispose of his phone that had long been causing him headaches, he walked out of the store. In one hand he held a box with the charger, instructions and receipt, all bundled together in a plastic bag—in the other hand, his shiny new phone with its black mirror screen glistening on a sunny day.
As he was walking back to the car, he texted me about the new phone and how great it was, how he had bought a case and finally he was getting consistent service again—but, unbeknownst to me at the time, a little blue car backed out of a spot as he was walking and texting. He reacted quickly, stopped, shuffled back, but in so doing swung his hand away and slung that brand-new phone down hard on the pavement. He had the new case on, a strong one that he thought was good—but the way the phone fell it landed right on the splinter point you always hope it doesn’t. He reached down, picked up his brand-new phone that lay face down, turned it over and found that awful, bruising, crack of glass all along the left side of the screen. And that was it. Are screen protectors worth it? Yes.
My brother has never been much of warranty person so when he walked back in the store not five minutes after he bought the device all they could say was ‘tough luck’ (in a politer way), and gave him a number for a screen repair company close by. Needless to say, it wasn’t a great sunny day. However, because of that day and his, very unfortunate (slightly funny) misfortune—I always invest in a screen protector for my phone. In fact, my whole family does.
Even if I drop my phone, (which I tend to do more than occasionally) the first line of defense to my screen, the protector, cracks before the more expensive and important glass beneath it. Are screen protectors worth it? Yes. Are screen protectors worth it? Only last week I dropped my phone on a granite floor; luckily my screen protector saved the screen.
With all that in mind: what are screen protectors; what do they actually do; how do they work; why do I need them in addition to a case; and, most importantly, how much do they cost? If you want to protect your smartphone or tablet investment, and find out exactly how to do so, read on.
What are Screen Protectors?
Not to overcomplicate the matter, a screen protector is exactly what the name implies. It is a small, thin piece of plastic or glass (or liquid) that covers the manufacturer’s plastic or glass on the face of your smartphone. There are three types of screen protectors, each with their own benefits and drawbacks—but all with the same goal in mind: protect your phone, and save you money.
The way they do that is pretty simple: break first, to protect the screen below from breaking. They absorb the impact, the same way a good case does for the edges of your phone—so that your phone doesn’t absorb any of that impact. There’s plenty of metaphors to describe how this works but my favorite is the, very simple, baseball mitt. When the baseball comes flying at your hand, the mitt absorbs the impact, so that your hand doesn’t. And that’s all a screen protector is—a baseball mitt. Are screen protectors worth it? Yes.
But which of the three types of screen protectors is best for you?
Plastic Screen Protectors
There are two versions of plastic screen protectors—Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) and Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU). Both are extremely thin, easy to attach to your phone and reusable. Additionally, these are the protectors that are easy to come by, you could see them anywhere—gas stations, convenient stores. Just like cheap
chargers, adapters or cases, they tend to be able to get the job done for a while—but maybe aren’t the best at the job.
That being said, of the two, TPU tends to be a little more durable than PET, and most often a little more expensive because of it. However, expensive is a loaded word because most plastic screen protectors don’t run much higher than $10. Not to mention, repairing your smartphone’s Gorilla Glass screen (read more), or other form of glass screen, assuming it’s just the screen that breaks, will run you in the neighborhood of $100 minimum. Are screen protectors worth it? Yes.
All in all, both these plastic protectors are great to have in a pinch but most versions of them are not fingerprint resistant. Often, they will leave smudging and have to be wiped off frequently, even if they are thin enough to be nearly invisible when attached to your screen.
Liquid Glass Screen Protectors
Probably the most interesting of the three types of screen protectors, liquid glass protectors, feel in some ways like the most high-tech of the three options. They are essentially a sealant that is wiped across your screen to prevent scratches, water damage—everything that a typical screen protector works to protect from.
That being said, they are effectively sunblock for your phone.
They are absorbed and create an invisible shield to give an added layer of protection. However, just like sunblock, they don’t last forever. Time and continued use from your fingers and your own natural oils will diminish the protective layer to the point where you are not entirely sure it’s even there anymore.
The only thing that will really tell you if it’s still there is, to extend the metaphor, if you get sunburned. Or, in the case of your smartphone, the screen scratches or breaks.
With all that in mind, in the case of your smartphone, it’s probably better to wear a hat (a plastic or glass screen protector) and at least know you’re in the shade—rather than hope that you are.
Last but not least, liquid glass tends to be the most expensive of the three types. You can get cheap versions, but a reputable brand with run you close to $40. Overall, liquid glass might end up being the way of the future, but at the moment it functions more as a cool idea that a truly tangible solution to protecting your phone. Are screen protectors worth it? Yes.
Tempered Glass Screen Protectors
To be totally straightforward with you, this would be my recommended screen protector—and the market seems to agree as this is the most widely purchased version of screen protector. In an effort to feel much more like your, more than likely, and natural Gorilla Glass phone screen, tempered glass protectors (rated 9H on the Mohs Hardness Scale , ‘Diamonds’ are a 10H!) are incredibly durable and resistant to scratches.
Additionally, most third-party vendors have created tempered glass protectors to be specified to individual phone designs. That means, just like smartphone cases, they will fit perfectly and be molded to cover a majority of your screen for the most thorough protection available. Therefore, whether an Android or Iphone user, there’s more than likely a tempered glass screen for you!
Another benefit of the tempered glass protector comes with the feel of it. A majority of our smartphones employ glass screens, and even though it’s an added layer of protection, it has that same silky-smooth-swipe feel. Are screen protectors worth it? Yes.
The only concern about the tempered glass screen is the same that comes with breaking the screen on your phone normally—if it happens, replace it. Those tiny shards can easily get under your skin. That being said, a majority of these tempered glass protectors come in packaged deals—so if one breaks, take it off and replace it with another. Installation is as easy as the plastic protectors!
Why Purchase a Screen Protector?
The long and short of buying a screen protector is because nobody wants to fix a broken phone screen, and nobody wants to live with one either (if you’ve ever had shards scrape or impale your finger while scrolling, you know.) That being said, the greatest asset of screen protectors is actually in their disposable quality.
I know you want to protect your phone and not have the protector you bought break too—after all, you spent money on both. However, the low cost of screen protectors (even the high end, reputable brands, being right around $20) means that if you drop your phone and the screen protector breaks but not the glass of your smartphone beneath it—it has done its job.
Yes, you will need to take off that thin, broken protector and replace it as soon as you can. But there sure is a good feeling when you peel off that $20 screen protector and see your near thousand-dollar investment safe and sound. Are screen protectors worth it? Yes