Your Screen Protector Isn’t Living Up to its Hype

When purchasing a new smartphone, salespeople enjoy urging you to invest in added protection — insurance, a case, and, evidently, a screen defender. The screen defender has been widely recognized as a requirement, priced anywhere from $10 to $60. These small pieces of plastic and glass have expanded into a $50 billion market, but there’s a hidden truth beneath it all. Your screen defender may not be necessary anymore.

You wouldn’t be irrational for desiring to shield your screen. Shattering your screen is the primary way to damage your phone, followed by liquid harm and battery problems. However, the glass in your phone has become significantly sturdier in the past five years. Some specialists suggest you may be able to forego the screen defender, and even caution about some relatively obscure drawbacks that salespeople aren’t disclosing to you.

“It’s actually not very helpful,” stated Raymond Soneira, CEO of DisplayMate Technologies, regarding screen defenders in a discussion with Gizmodo. Soneira’s firm explores how to enhance your phone’s display. He doesn’t utilize a screen defender, just a phone case, but qualifies this by indicating he is very careful with his phone and almost never drops it.

DisplayMate discovered that screen defenders increase your phone’s reflectivity. This diminishes the quality of your display and necessitates you to boost your phone’s brightness to match the same quality. Eventually, he states this will erode your phone’s battery, and lead to a shorter daily battery life.

Nevertheless, the phone community is divided on this screen defender matter. iFixit Repairability Engineer, Carsten Fraunheim remarks that screen defenders can be beneficial against scratches, micro-abrasions, and just grant you peace of mind. He labels them a “no-brainer” but concedes they’re less crucial than they used to be.

“As smartphone glass technology becomes more and more shatter-resistant, screen defenders will lose their ‘drop protection’ selling point,” Fraunheim mentioned in an email.

Even the fluid screen defenders have their drawbacks.

“Liquid wipe-on screen defenders are snake oil,” stated iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens in an email. He states that this type of protection actually undermines the structure of your screen, though he had no comment on panel-style defenders.

Trey Barnett, a computer technician at a Manhattan uBreakiFix, has encountered numerous cracked screens in the 14 years he’s been fixing phones. However, he notices fewer iPhones with shattered screens than he used to.

“I would say that screens have become a bit more resilient, but, you know, it hasn’t prevented people from breaking them completely.”

There is an evident argument in support of screen defenders: they are cheaper than changing your phone screen. While that’s accurate, the likelihood of needing to fix your screen is much lower than it used to be. The multi-billion dollar screen defender industry would like to keep that hush-hush.

Beginnings of The Screen Defender

In 2021, Apple’s iPhones started utilizing Ceramic Shield, a new material that asserts to be tougher than any previous smartphone glass. It originates from Corning, a glass company that Steve Jobs commissioned to produce the initial screen for the iPhone in 2007.

Jobs famously provided Corning a 6-month deadline to create the iPhone’s screen, which was initially intended to be plastic. Corning accomplished it, forming an exceptionally robust, thin material called Gorilla Glass. This material would be utilized in the first decade of iPhones and is still employed in most Samsung phones.

Gorilla Glass is sturdier than most glass, but it wasn’t great initially. Screen defenders for phones almost instantaneously emerged, as consumers hurried to envelop their phones in protective materials.

Apple forums in 2008 were brimming with individuals discussing early screen protectors. The first iPhone adopters promptly scratched their Gorilla Glass displays. Some users discovered these early screen protectors were so subpar they interfered with the iPhone’s touch screen. Screen protectors have improved significantly, but so have screens themselves.

Ceramic Shield was a significant leap forward for screen technology. The substances used in Ceramic Shield are much distinct from conventional smartphone glass. Corning describes it as somewhere between ceramics and glass, and Apple asserts it’s four times stronger than Gorilla Glass when it comes to drops.

Nevertheless, these significant enhancements have slipped under the radar. That may be related to the expansion of the screen defender industry. By 2030, the industry is predicted to expand to approximately $85 billion, according to Grand View Research.

Reasons Why Screen Protectors Persist

Anyone who has shattered their phone screen will inform you how agonizing that encounter is. Even though phone screens have improved significantly, the replacement process is traumatic enough to prompt anyone to just buy the darn screen defender.

It’s completely understandable why you might encase your phone in a screen defender still. It is a substantial investment, but there’s more and more proof that screens are improving. A good phone case alone may be enough.

So when do we discard the screen defenders? These delicate films could be degrading the quality of that very expensive screen in your pocket, and they are potentially draining your battery. Screen defenders are gradually becoming obsolete.

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