Over 80% of Americans own a smartphone. If there’s one thing smartphone owners know, it’s that those screens are pretty fragile.
With the cost of smartphones on the rise, you’re going to want to protect your screen and make your investment worthwhile.
There are a lot of screen protectors out there. Companies have been experimenting with different materials and making claims that they’ve created the best screen protector on the market.
We’re here to talk about the different kinds of screen protectors to help you decide what to get for your smartphone. (Already dealing with a cracked screen or other issues? We’ve got you covered there, too, with our 24-hour phone repairs!)
Polyethylene Terephthalate, also known as PET, is a chemically-enhanced type of plastic you’ll often find in grocery stores protecting food from germs and gunk.
PET screen protectors are usually going to be one of the cheaper options on the market, so they’re not a bad solution if you’re on a tight budget. PET is designed to be grease- and scratch-resistant. It’s lightweight and thin, so it won’t alter the look or bulkiness of your smartphone.
It has a bit of elasticity to it, which means it can take on some of the wear and tear if you scratch your phone. When PET screen protectors work properly, they will actually dent a bit when they absorb that damage. Over time, that dent will smooth out on its own, which is a pretty cool feature.
The drawbacks? Because PET is so thin, it will not protect your phone screen from cracking in a severe drop. It’s also a stiff material and won’t conform fully to phone screens that have a slight curve to them, like the iPhone screen.
All in all, PET is better than nothing, but you may only want to use it until you can get something more durable.
Liquid screen protectors are newer to the market and a bit mystifying. The product, itself, tends to come in the form of a wipe that you swab over your screen. In theory, you’re spreading a layer of liquid glass over your phone that will reinforce the original glass after it has worn down from use.
Supposedly, the glass on a smartphone screen has a protective coating that wears down over time. Once that coating is gone, the screen becomes rough and more vulnerable to cracks and scratches. Liquid screen protectors are designed to smooth over that roughness.
The problem is that this liquid glass is providing such a thin layer of protection that your phone screen will probably still get scratched or crack if you drop it. After all, the claim seems to be that you’re replacing the protective coating, which wouldn’t have saved your smartphone from cracking in the first place.
We’re not too sold on the liquid glass protectors. It’s possible that over time, manufacturers will improve their products and create something more protective, but right now it’s not worth your money. Even if you have worn down your protective coating, glass or plastic screen protectors will cover all of that up, anyways.
Thermoplastic Polyurethane, also known as TPU, is another chemically-enhanced plastic material. It has been used to protect glass phone screens for a long time, and the application process can seem a little archaic.
Most TPU screen protectors will come with a spray that you apply to your phone’s screen directly before laying down the TPU protector. You then need to use some kind of card (like a debit or credit card) to smooth over any air bubbles that are trapped between the TPU and the glass screen.
Like PET, TPU has elastic properties that will take on the shock of a drop or absorb light scratching. It’s less brittle than PET, so it will conform to most phone screens without leaving any gaps or awkward edges. It is also more reliable than PET when it comes to impact resistance, which means your phone may not crack when you drop it.
One thing some users may find annoying is that TPU tends to have a rubbery feel and when you slide your finger over your TPU-protected screen, there will be a little bit of friction. Some TPU screen protectors have a strange sheen to them that can make visibility worse. All in all, TPU is a better option than PET, but it’s not our favorite product on the market.
Tempered glass is, hands down, the best type of screen protector money can buy. It’s a lot more effective when it comes to scratch resistance and impact resistance and it actually feels like glass, rather than plastic or rubber.
Tempered glass has multiple layers. The bottom layer is a shock-absorbing silicone adhered to PET. The top layer is tempered glass and an easy-to-clean coating.
All of these layers come together to make a thin, lightweight screen protector that won’t weigh you down or drastically change the feel and look of your phone. Tempered glass screen protectors are also very clear and don’t reduce the visibility of your phone’s screen.
One thing to be aware of with tempered glass is that if you do drop your phone hard enough, the screen protector can shatter. The good news? Your phone’s screen will probably be left unscathed, and you can just replace the screen protector.
We see tons of phones come in for repairs after a drop has left a spiderweb of cracks across the screen. Using a screen protector (and we truly do believe that the best screen protector is made of tempered glass) will cut down on your chances of unfortunate screen-shattering.
If you do crack your phone’s screen, don’t try to keep using it before it’s fixed. Those like micro-shards can get into your skin and cracks can become full-blown holes. All in all, it’s not worth it.
If you need a phone repair, give us a call. (Although, you may want to borrow someone else’s phone to do it!)