I want to use a screen protector, but I just don’t. I hate the way those little bubbles always end up right in the center. I get fixated on them, trying to push them to the edge only to end up with an even more noticeable mark where I smashed the plastic sheet too much. Plus, after shoving my smartphone into my bag, pocket, or backpack enough times, the edges get all gross with dust and crumbs that stick to the adhesive backing.

I know I’m not the only one to feel this way. Nearly all screen protectors now come with special “easy” application tabs and that silly little plastic card that is supposed to smooth out all the bubbles, but never does.

There are even a few companies that have started making special applicators.


For example, the PurTek Roll-On Screen Shield Kit features a tray and mini roller so you can hold your device in place while pressing the screen protector on, supposedly creating a bubble-free application.

The Crater is a universal screen protector kit that uses that silly little card, but the tray helps keep your smartphone in place, so it should at least be easier to align.

The Alin is a screen protection applicator that uses a small frame with a sideways grip, but again uses the squeegee method, which I’ve never found to be particularly reliable.

Hinged Method Screen Protector Application

Some smartphone users have suggested the “hinge method” when applying a screen protector. The idea is that you add a strip of tape to the protector and adhere it to your phone so that, after you set up the perfect alignment, you don’t lose it trying to actually put the screen protector on.

Another suggestion is to apply the screen protector in the bathroom after running the shower for a few minutes – just long enough to build up a bit of steam. The condensation in the air will help keep small particles from floating onto your freshly de-dusted device.

Is it really all worth it? These days, smartphones are made with scratch-resistant, dust repellent glass. Does a screen protector really make that much of a difference?

Do you use a screen protector? What kind? And do you have any tricks for applying it without making a mess?

[polldaddy poll=8615937]

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34 replies on “Are screen protectors worth the effort?”

  1. I don’t know why everyone is making such a big deal about this. I just get a team of highly trained chimpanzees in bunny suits to apply my screen protectors in a clean room.

  2. I never made a bubble, never got dust.
    Just use a proper screen and not one of those cheap 3-for-1$

  3. Try the tempered glass Simple Snap, sold on http://www.simplesnap.com and also Amazon. It goes on in seconds using a cool custom mold that is error-proof. I use these on my iPhone 6 and iPad Mini 2. Flawless installation, great protection, you can’t even tell it’s on. Excellent product.

  4. Sand from my kids playing in the park, hiking or just out of nowhere still statches these glass screens. Also, if your those over protective people, after some time you’ll eventually see hairline scratches on the screen. Doesn’t matter if it’s Gorrilla Glass or not.

  5. The last few screen protectors I’ve put on have been the “wet” type. Spray a little solution on and it allows you to get it as perfect as you want it. Wouldn’t go back to the dry ones ever again. That being said, the las few devices I’ve owned I just been using a good case with plenty of corner protection and have ditched the screen protectors for good. No regrets so far.

  6. It’s all about tempered glass screen protectors. They install more easily than plastic, and it’s very easy to get them bubble-free. As for touch and clarity, there’s no comparison. Tempered glass screen protectors look beautiful, and in a way they can make your phone look “better,” as if there’s jewelry over the screen.

    Screen protectors and cases are necessary in my opinion, since every smartphone is really worth $700. But today we have the option of tempered glass screen protectors, and they’ve changed the game in my opinion.

    1. Totally agree, since I use a tempered screenprotector my keys are next to my phone in my pocket and have way less fingerprint marks on my screen. And also true, no bubbles at all and touch hasn’t deteriorate.

  7. Why are people still using plastic protectors when there are plenty of tempered glass protectors available on the market?

  8. A properly applied screen protector is an absolute must in my opinion. I have zero lint chunks or dust or bubbles in mine. It’s a mirror finish and perfect and has saved my ass several times. The rest of the phone is banged up and scratched from being dropped and abused when being pulled out of my case (holster) but my screen is flawless. The secret is to clean the screen first to remove residue and finger prints and then apply only half (or less) at a time and get an air can to blow the lint off as you go incrementally pulling off your backing. That’s what it’s there for!!! Just don’t get a cheap air can (one that shoots out white fuzzy frost on your stuff). Never had a lint chunk or bubble that way. Oh and credit cards to help move the air – go from the middle out, 50% on each side (like the letter T) in the shape of a smile (NEVER FROWNS), left and then right, bit by bit, cm by cm…go slow and you’ll be rocking!

  9. I use to be obsessive about putting protectors on my screen but went naked on my last phone. After 2 years the screen was still in good condition with no scratches I ever noticed. So I’m never going back to screen protectors on my phones, it’s just not worth changing the look, feel, and responsiveness of the screen for a device you’ll just upgrade in a couple years anyways.

  10. Applying screen protectors is an art form requiring quite a bit of manual dexterity and experience. From my own experience, not all screen protectors are made the same, for example, those skinomi wet-apply stretchy membrane types require a totally different set of skills and expectations than the regular stick-on types you get at the store.

    I use the standard non-stretchy stick-on films and I get them by the 5-pack. My last 3 smartphones have had a screen protector and a case and are still functional to this day. When the screen protector gets a serious scratch and distracts me, I replace it. I go through about 3 a year per phone.

  11. Haven’t used a screen protector since the days of PocketPCs and plastic resistive touch screens. Back then it made sense as the screens would scratch with little force. Today we have gorilla glass and other durable glass screens you only have a problem if you really abuse the phone.

  12. Screen protectors are often the only way to get a matte screen on phones. Matte really should be the default since they are used outside so often.

    Foolproof way of removing bubbles: First, make sure the screen is clean. Apply the protector. Don’t try to do a very good job, you’ll get bubbles no matter what you do. Especially on a larger screen. Here is the secret. Get a chunk of electrical tape, long enough to go across the screen. Fold over a small “handle” on one end of the tape. Place the handle-end of the tape over the bubble. The far end of the tape should extend off the screen. Rub the tape into the screen for solid adhesion. Slowly peel the tape off by the handle, from the middle of the screen to the edge. The bubble will follow the tape and come out of the edge.

    That is it. No fancy equipment needed, just electrical tape.

    1. “Screen protectors are often the only way to get a matte screen on
      phones. Matte really should be the default since they are used outside
      so often.”

      Quoted above is the best post in this comment thread. Shiny screens on portable devices (any screens really) is plain Stupid because of glare.

      BTW the electrical tape technique does work in my experience, but not always.

      My Best Screen Protector Practices:

      1. If your device is new straight out of the box (important) and you remove any micro particles from the screen before applying the protective film, you will most likely not get any bubbles. Clean the screen well with a lint free cloth then use adhesive tape to thoroughly remove any remaining particles (visible and invisible to humans) from the screen before applying the protective film.

      2. If your device is new, it should already come with a thin protective removable film that should be replaced immediately with a purpose-made screen protector film. If the factory film is damaged in any way out of the box, don’t buy the device.

      3. Insist the vendor apply the protective film him/herself at the point of purchase and guarantee no bubbles. They should do the work in front of you and provide the empty screen protector package for your future reference.

      4. To prevent the screen protector from pulling away from the screen at the corners and edges over time, keep the phone in a case when transporting it. Screen protectors are made to protect the screen when the user is handling the device; NOT when transporting it in a pocket or purse.

      5. A the first sign of the protective film coming off or showing damage, get it replaced. Don’t put it off.

      If you follow these common-sense practices, a good quality screen protector should easily last for years.

      All that said, most people should not bother with screen protectors if you expect only a year or two of useful life from the device. An exception to this might be the owner of a device with a high resolution display that is also a heavy user of high quality video content, a scratched screen will affect the viewing experience in this case. Another exception might be a device owner who intends to resell the product quickly. A properly applied bubble and scratch-free film protected screen adds to the resale value, as does a good quality case as part of the bundle.

  13. Basically, with hardened glass, your evil screen scratchers are chrome and sand. If you dump your phone in a pocket with shiny, silvery keys you probably want a screen protector. If you’re going to the beach, you might want one while you’re there but you’d probably do better with a waterproof (and sand proof) case or bag.

    If you’re worried about your screen breaking, a screen protector is not enough, you need a case.

    For most people, most of the time, screen protectors are an unnecessary expense and a nuisance. I haven’t used one since my Palm Pilot days. Go naked.

  14. Tried one of the glass screen protectors once.

    Went on easy enough.

    Decreased overall sensitivity of the screen slightly, but that wasn’t the real issue. It loved fingerprints and was much more difficult to clean than the Gorilla Glass of the device.

    Furthermore, without a case the glass screen protectors aren’t really going to help — they don’t cover the edges and that where things break when you drop it, and I’m not putting a thick case on my device.

    I’ll just buy a reasonably priced device. That way if I break it, it’s not such a big deal 🙂

  15. i don’t use protectors. i used to put one on my wife’s phone as she is more prone to “incidents”, but haven’t done so since the Motorola Atrix 4g. I don’t resell our phones, we donate them or give them to the kids when we upgrade. I’ve never regretted not putting a screen protector on anything. Don’t put them on tablets either, not since my Pandigital Novel (remember those?), which looked like it had been in a cat fight.
    screen protectors do tend to help reduce screen glare though, I kinda miss that sometimes.

  16. I hate screen protectors with a passion, but I can’t afford to lose the resale value of my phones or I will never be able to upgrade them. Necessary evil.

  17. I used the hinge method after watching from a youtube video a few months ago and now I’m the go to guy when my friends need to apply screen protectors.

  18. 1) clear the table
    2) close the windows and spray anything in the room to force the particles to fall.
    3) clean the glass screen perfectly, you can use the liquid you use for your glasses.
    4) spray a mix of 95% water 5% detergent on the screen and onto your fingers. Wet it, don’t fear.
    5) apply the protector over the wet glass, align at wished, wipe out the bubbles.
    Works every time.

    1. Thanks for your advice. I’ve never tried the water/detergent mixture. Do you know what the detergent helps with?

      1. Slightly reduces tac (you can sometimes pull it off if you’re careful and reapply), then the water is squeegeed out and fully dries, the tac of adhesion will still be there. Just don’t use too much soap compared to water or it will never dry right.

  19. With proper care a screen protector is absolutely unnecessary.

    1. With proper care, they are absolutely flawless to apply. There’s no downside and plenty of upside.

    2. Michael, I usually agree with you but this time I’m going with Ausidog on this one…sorry man! 😉

  20. I hate those things too, and never use them. I just get a case with a flip cover and that has always worked well for me. The only reason I would use a screen protector is to protect my finger from cuts if the glass cracked and I didn’t want to replace it (the glass or the phone).

  21. I think it depends on your phone and the use case. If it’s lower end the screen won’t be as resistant to scratches (not all phones come with Gorilla glass). Also, I don’t think it is necessary if you’re a user whose use case ends up somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. One end of the spectrum is users who like to keep everything mint so that they can sell it later at a top price because they like to upgrade every six to twelve months. The other end of the spectrum is users who are totally careless and who could benefit from rugged phone. In the middle are those who use their phones for a long while, don’t worry too much about the resell value and do make some effort not to sift the phone through sand or keep it in a pocket with a cornucopia of objects (scratch resistant is not scratch proof after all).

    Cases in general tend to be more worth it than screen protectors. Especially since they protect the screen from surface junk when you place the phone face down.

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