screen protectors

Smartphones are pretty hefty investments. These multi-purpose devices are our most personal possessions and serve as communicators, tools, and our entertainment. Naturally, we want to protect these and keep them working well and looking like new.

The display makes up most of the functional area of the smartphone. Ironically, this is also the most delicate and  the most expensive part to replace (it has a display, yes. But it also integrates the digitizer, oftentimes the front-facing camera, and now even the fingerprint scanner). While there are many cases that add a layer or more of protection, adding direct protection to the display can be done using a screen protector.

History and evolution

Screen protectors have had a long history of being difficult to apply

Screen protectors have been with us since before we had smartphones. Back in the days of personal digital assistants (PDA’s), there were various screen protectors that served as an extra layer of protection between the capacitive display and the pen and stylus that were used to interact with the display.

Many of these were stickers or adhesives which had to be carefully applied and ranged in thickness. They were a pain to apply.

Applying these screen protectors was not always easy. If you did get them centered, there were sometimes bubbles that were hard to remove or dust and debris would get stuck making it annoying. Manufacturers of these products knew they were not easy to apply, so they included three in the pack, just in case you needed a redo or to reapply the protector.

When smartphones, which were mostly screen, started becoming evolving, so did screen protectors. We now had a range of materials from adhesive with multiple types of coating (including glare-free, privacy and UV-protector).

Other models have edge-to-edge protection with a tough polycarbonate border that prevents chips and high-quality tempered glass for a smooth touch, incredible image clarity, and impressive touch sensitivity.

The types of materials used also saw greater range of choice. Adhesive skins are still predominant, but now we have a variety of more premium choices like plastic and actual glass which effectively add a layer of shatter-resistance with very little impact on bulk and weight.

Today, there’s a variety to choose from, including plastic, glass and even liquid screen protectors that each have their own advantages and price points.

Why screen protectors?

Smartphones and tablets, which are mostly made of glass panels fused to plastic or aluminium backplates are notoriously easy to break.

It only takes one drop, face down or on the corner of the device to crack or shatter the display, rendering the devices useless.

The stats are alarming, 50 per cent of people under the age of 35 break their smartphones within 12 months, 70 per cent of smartphone users worry their screens will get scratched in their purse, bags or pockets. In the US, $10 billion has been spent on smartphone repairs, most of which have been displays.

For me, screen protectors are a no brainer. They add protection, keep the original display pristine and make it possible to ensure that if I give away or sell my smartphone, the new owner will be getting a new display or at least,  a device that’s as close to mint as possible.

Glass offers premium protection

Now, we have a range of premium screen protectors made out of superior glass. Zagg’s solutions, like their InvisibleShield Sapphire Defense glass screen protector are a popular choice. Ion Matrix impact protection shields your device’s screen from dings, drops, and scratches, while ensuring crystal-clear image quality and remarkable touch sensitivity and responsiveness.

Sapphire Defense glass is chemically reinforced at the molecular level to maintain that glass-like feel and provide the ultimate screen protection. Ion Matrix impact protection is said to offer a top-notch defense against bumps, drops, and scratches so you can swipe and type with ease.

This is a long-lasting, oil-resistant design shields your device’s screen from smudges and fingerprints to keep your screen looking pristine. Unlike cheaper protectors, this doesn’t affect your display’s quality. Best of all, it delivers the same outstanding responsiveness of an unprotected screen due to its meticulously designed composition.

Screen Protector Installation tips

Installing screen protectors is not for the faint of heart. I like to look after my devices and have installed dozens of screen protectors for myself, friends, and family and I have learned the hard way that you need to take some steps to do it right.

Make sure you’re working in a clean, dust-free zone. Have all your tools nearby, ensure you have clean hands and before you even unwrap your screen protector, make sure that the surface of your display is as clean and dust free as possible.

Since you’re bonding the glass on your device to an external plastic or glass, it is important to keep surfaces clean. Some screen protectors come with wet wipes and small microfiber cloths to ensure you can remove microscopic debris and dust. I always have some strips of cellophane tape to use in case I need to lift the screen protector in order to re-adjust it. This keeps my fingerprints away and makes it possible to adjust the protector.

I review the steps I need to take before I dive in, making a note of what the possible pitfalls will be (usually problems with alignment, trapping dust or debris between screen and protector and the most dreaded of all, bubbles).

If you’re lucky, you can get a good install done in one go. If not, try again and note the areas you found challenging. Depending on the product, your results will vary.

Personally, I’d rather have a professional install the protector. Best Buy’s Geek Squad is trained to properly install these in minutes.

Today’s screen protectors have evolved as much as the smartphones and tablets that they protect. They are the most low-profile, yet the simplest way to protect your smartphone investment by adding a thin protective layer that acts as a barrier and a shield for nicks, scratches and cracks while maintaining the HD and higher clarity and quality of your smartphone’s display.

Check out the variety of screen protector offerings from Best Buy Canada.

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