Do Tempered Glass Screen Protectors Actually Work?
Yes! …and no. Yes, if you combine them with an appropriate case, and no – in just about any situation when they are used as the only type of phone protection.
For example, you go out and buy the latest Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy and on one hand you don’t want to break it, but on the other hand you want to maintain that sleek look of your newly purchased prized possesion. So at the recommendation of the sales assistant you opt for the super tough 9H tempered glass protector to protect your screen if you do happen to accidentally drop it on the ground someday.
A couple of weeks go by and that inevitable day arrives where your new phone suddenly drops and collides with the ground giving off that spine tingling ‘crunch’ sound that only breaking glass can make. You cringe at the thought of your new phone screen being broken but then you remember – you purchased that super tough 9H tempered glass for just this sort of thing! That sound was probably just the glass protector breaking, not the screen!
You pick up your phone and turn it over only to find that the screen has cracked as well as the glass protector itself and your new phone is now broken and your warranty voided also!
How did this happen? You ask yourself angrily. Did that salesman sell me an inferior product? Was the protector not applied correctly?? Why is my phone broken even though I paid extra for screen protection!??
The answer? Well, that is quite simple. It is actually to do with modern phone design in general and to be more specific, the type of glass used to make phone screens these days versus back in the iPhone 5 / Samsung S5 era.
For example, there are 3 categories of glass used to make phone screens – 2D, 2.5D and 3D. iPhone 5 / Samsung S5 used 2D glass where iPhone 6 and Samsung S6 use 2.5D glass. And the latest Samsung Edge series phones all use 3D glass which is by far the worst offender of them all.
2D glass is as it is described – essentially 2 dimensional or in other words, flat. Tempered glass protectors work best with these types of screens because they can cover 100% of the screen area stretching all the way to the edges without compromise.
2.5D glass is the most common used these days. This type of glass is mostly flat until you reach the edges were the glass then tapers off giving it that smooth / polished look and feel. This is purely for style and has no practical purpose. These types of screens can be protected by tempered glass ONLY over the flat areas of the screen. This causes the edges of the screen to be left exposed and if you stop and think about the chances of the phone falling on the edges (basically if it falls face down and isn’t 100% flat when it lands) then the protection from the glass protector is essentially 0% in most drop situations as the edges of the screen will impact first taking the full force and therefore breaking the screen in the process.
And finally, 3D glass. This type of glass is almost impossible to protect effectively. It’s almost like it was designed to be vulnerable to drop damage! This type of glass is flat in the middle and then wraps around to about a 45 degree angle on the edges. Some phones even have this type of glass on the front AND back of the phone! There are 3D tempered glass protectors that can be applied to these phones but they significantly effect the overall use and sleek feel of the phone whilst also being incompatible with about 90% of cases that are available.
So now that you have the essential information on how new phones are designed, here are some of my recommendations for anyone wanting to either purchase a new phone, or protect the one they have:
1) Avoid buying any device using 3D glass if possible – you will be severly limited when it comes to available protection options.
2) Never buy a tempered glass protector as the only protection for your phone – even for 2D glass phones like iPhone 5 or Samsung S5 as your phone doesn’t always land face down and you risk damage to other sensitive components without using a protective case as well.
3) Always buy a case for your phone – not just any case, a case that is designed to protect your phone – not just make it look nice. Any case you buy should be able to cushion an impact (usually rubber / gel materials are best) and also have an edge that is raised above your screen so that when you drop your phone the case impacts first, and not your screen.
4) Expensive doesn’t always mean better – While some brand name cases come with hefty price tags, don’t be fooled by their percieved value as the protection they offer usually comes second to style and adherance to fashion trends. For example, a simple TPU (jelly) case that is reasonably thick and wraps around the front of the phone combined with a tempered glass protector (the blue case in the example image) is usually all you need to protect your phone from the most common daily drops (coming in at around $30-$40 in most shops), where as OtterBox, LifeProof and Defense cases start at $59 and average around the $99 mark and are definitely overkill for most average phone users.
So do tempered glass screen protectors actually work? Yes, as long as you combine them with a protective case. If you follow the guidelines above (provided by me, a phone technician / phone salesman / manager with over 10 years experience in the industry) you should have no problem keeping your phone in new condition even after a few drops here and there 🙂
– Written and Published by Justin Richards, GM – Gold Coast Phone Repairs, June 2016