Among the different types of screen guards available in the market, most individuals turn to tempered glass when it comes to giving their precious smartphone displays the protection it deserves. This is because tempered glass not just protects your smartphone’s screen from scratches but also from cracking due to impacts or falls. And this has to do with the nature of the material itself.
You see, glass by itself is fragile and is not meant to take impact. Unlike regular glass, tempered glass goes through several additional processes, both thermal and chemical. These processes enhance the properties of the glass, making it harder, stronger, and less prone to cracking. This makes it the perfect choice for protecting the displays of mobile phones.
Even amongst the tempered glass, there are multiple glass guard types that you can get. However, clear tempered glass often remains the preferred option due to its high transparency and light transmissibility, which lets the user view the phone’s display without any significant distortions.
Usually, high-quality tempered glass screen protectors come with a thin anti-reflective layer. This layer, although doesn’t eliminate reflections or glare, reduces it to a large extent, making it easier to view the phone’s display under highly reflective conditions such as under direct sunlight.
Before the introduction of tempered glass screen protectors, slim Polyethylene Terephthalate film protectors were the most popular choice when it came to protecting phone displays. Polyethylene Terephthalate, more commonly known as PET, is a special kind of plastic. If you’ve ever used a plastic water bottle or a food container, chances are that you’ve used one that was made from PET. One of the reasons for the high popularity of this plastic material has to do with the fact that it is non-toxic, non-reactive, and highly resistant.
One of the main reasons why PET films were very popular among the different types of screen protectors was the cost. Since it is essentially a plastic film, it is very cost-effective compared to tempered glass or other kinds of protectors. Usually, screen protectors made of Polyethylene Terephthalate are offered in a clear finish but can be bought in anti-glare (matte) finishes as well.
Despite its many advantages, such types of phone screen protectors come with their share of drawbacks. Firstly, they only offer scratch resistance to the display and not impact resistance like tempered glass. Secondly, they need to be replaced very frequently since the plastic film can get discoloured over time due to exposure to sunlight and oil from your fingertips. And finally, they don’t give a smooth and nice feeling when scrolling through your phone, unlike a tempered glass protector.
Also known as TPU, Thermoplastic Polyurethane is another unique plastic material like PET. If you’ve shopped for phone cases, you would have come across a few advertising the fact that they’re made from TPU. Such cases are made from this Thermoplastic Polyurethane material. While TPU is widely used to make cases that make smartphones resistant to impacts and drops, of late, many manufacturers have also started to use this material to make screen guards.
These types of screen protectors offer several advantages over PET film protectors. TPU screen guards are more elastic and stretchable, which a regular plastic film screen guard isn’t. Also, they offer better scratch resistance and are very good when it comes to keeping oils and grease at bay. Thanks to the elastic nature of the protector, it also offers good impact protection, though not as much as tempered glass. The soft, elastic and stretchable TPU material also has a few self-healing properties. This effectively means that it can take minor impacts without showing any signs of damage.
If you’re willing to pay slightly more for a better screen guard than PET films with a little bit of impact protection, consider opting for these types of screen guards. That said, although they feel a bit nicer when scrolling, TPU protectors still don’t feel as smooth or fluid as tempered glass.
The three types of phone screen protectors that you saw above are typically offered in clear finishes with high light transmissibility. While having clear screen protectors helps you view your phone’s display as it is, there’s also a huge drawback; they provide zero privacy. Other individuals can easily peer into your phone and see exactly what you’re looking at.
If you’re someone who travels by public transport often or prefers to have some sort of privacy when you use your phone, then typical mobile screen guard types won’t cut it. But are there any screen protectors that restrict other individuals from knowing exactly what you’re watching on your phone? Fortunately, there are.
Known as privacy screen guards, such kinds of protectors have a thin polariser filter built into them. This polarisation drastically restricts the viewing angle of the phone’s display. So much so that the display and its contents would only be visible to the individual holding it right in front of them. If you or anyone else were to view the screen at an angle from either the side, top, or bottom, you wouldn’t be able to see any of the contents on the display. Screen protectors designed to enable privacy are available in both tempered glass material as well as Polyethylene Terephthalate film material.
On the other hand, if you’re worried about the reflective nature of clear screen protectors making it hard to see what’s on the screen and causing eye strain, these types of screen guards are the perfect option for you.
Anti-glare screen protectors, also known as matte screen protectors, have a special coating on top that gives them a completely matte finish. Although they don’t offer any privacy, such screen guards are very effective at managing reflections. They make the display easier on the eyes and allow you to see even under direct sunlight. Another major advantage is that they’re highly resistant to fingerprints and smudges, which can be a major menace with clear screen protectors.
As with privacy protectors, you can find these types of screen protectors in both PET film material as well as a tempered glass material. All said and done, there’s a minor drawback to screen guards with anti-glare coatings. They tend to reduce the clarity and brightness of the phone’s display.
Hydrogel is a recent invention that has made its way into mobile phone screen protection. Although the material is made from Thermoplastic Polyurethane, it is in many ways more effective than those TPU types of screen guards. Measuring just about 0.2mm, hydrogel is incredibly thin, highly elastic, and stretchable. This gives it minor self-healing properties like TPU, meaning that light scratches automatically heal over time.
One of the major advantages of hydrogel screen protectors is that it is very resistant to bubbles, making them extremely easy to apply on smartphone displays. That’s not all. They’re hydrophobic, fingerprint and smudge-resistant, and ideal for phones with curved screens. These types of screen protectors are very transparent, allowing you to view the phone’s display without any distortions irrespective of the viewing angle.
However, despite the many advantages, there are drawbacks to these protectors. Firstly, they’re prone to discolouration and degradation due to exposure to sunlight, oil, and grime. And secondly, they offer only minimal impact protection in the case of a fall.
Seeing as the display is one of the most expensive components of a smartphone, you must offer it the maximum possible protection. When it comes to all-around protection for a screen, among the different types of screen guards, tempered glass tops the list. If you wish to have some privacy or reduce glare, you can consider opting for tempered glass with those features.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who is on a budget and are willing to forego impact protection, you can consider opting for other types of screen protectors made from PET, TPU, or hydrogel. Even with these budget screen guards, you get the freedom to choose one with anti-glare coating or privacy polarisation.
There are as many as 8 different types of screen protectors out there for protecting mobile phone displays from scratches and cracks. These are as follows: tempered glass, matte tempered glass, privacy tempered glass, polyethylene terephthalate screen protectors, clear and matte hydrogel screen protectors, ceramic screen guards, and thermoplastic protective polyurethane screen guards.
When it comes to tempered glass, you can find multiple different types. Clear tempered glass, matte tempered glass, tinted or frosted tempered glass, reflective tempered glass, and laminated tempered glass are a few of them. However, except for clear and matte tempered glass, none of the other types of screen guards are used on mobile phones as a means to protect their display.