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Friday, October 11, 2019

You Probably Don’t Need a Screen Protector

A man applies a screen protector to his phone.
Nor Gal/Shutterstock

Screen protectors are sold as a necessity, but they’re not as useful as they used to be. In fact, ditching the screen protector can save you money and make your phone more pleasant to use.

Gorilla Glass Is Tougher Than Common Metals

The original iPhone was the first smartphone to use a glass screen instead of a plastic screen. But Apple didn’t use just any glass; the company relied on a “Gorilla Glass” developed by a company called Corning.

Today, Corning supplies Gorilla Glass for most smartphone manufacturers. Gorilla Glass 6, the newest of Corning’s formulas, is tougher than the glass that came on the original iPhone (or even the glass that came with your last phone). Gorilla Glass is harder than the common metals that you’ll find in keys and knives, and it can handle being thrown at the ground multiple times.

In other words, your phone’s screen is a lot harder to break than it used to be. Screen protectors used to be an essential item, but they’re hardly a necessity these days. But Gorilla Glass isn’t perfect, right? Aren’t there some situations that call for a screen protector?

Screen Protectors Are (Sometimes) Useful

A man picks his broken phone off the ground. He is sad.
Vera Petruina/Shutterstock

Screen protectors look disgusting. They get scratched up quickly, and they make your screen less vibrant. Plus, the plastic screen protectors are really good at holding onto finger grease, which is a gross reminder of humanity’s myriad bodily functions.

But screen protectors aren’t useless yet. Gorilla Glass may be strong enough to withstand a good drop, but it can still be scratched by rocks, sand, and rare metals (like diamonds). Your phone will look like hell if it ever skids across a gravel parking lot, and it’ll be covered in micro-scratches if you ever stick it in a pocket full of sand.

When’s the last time that either of those things happened to you? Freak accidents just don’t happen that often. Sure, it’s nice to have a screen protector when something terrible happens. And hey, if you work in a battlefield or you have terrible luck, then a screen protector’s probably worth buying. But for most people, freak accidents are so rare that a screen replacement may be cheaper, easier, and more tolerable than installing a new screen protector every month.

Consider Carrier Insurance or Local Repair Shops

A phone repairman opens up a phone to replace its screen.
Vlad Teodor/Shutterstock

Screen protectors aren’t nearly as important as they used to be. They add a bit of extra protection to your phone, but that additional protection isn’t always necessary. Think of it like wearing knee pads while riding a bike. They’re super ugly, but they might come in handy during a freak accident.

The thing is, phone screens are pretty easy to replace (easier than your kneecaps). A local repair shop should be able to replace your phone screen for around $100—and that’s not too far off from what you might pay for a year’s worth of $15 screen protectors. If you don’t mind walking into a store and interacting with a real human being, then the screen protector may be worth skipping.

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