So, you have just received your shiny new $700+ device, you excitedly open the box and bathe in its beauty until… suddenly a little voice in your head says, “what if the screen gets damaged.” Well apart from keeping the device in the box when not in use, there are two main options for you to keep your device pristine. There is the old standby tempered glass screen protector or the “new kid on the block” the liquid screen protector. Both are effective at protecting the screen on your device but which is better?
What is a Liquid Screen Protector?
A liquid screen protector is precisely what the name implies. It creates a bonded coating with your device’s screen that is ultra-thin roughly 1 micron thick. For those nonscientists out there, a human hair is about 100 microns. As such, this protective coating is invisible to the naked eye.
- Hardness – The main reason you want a screen protector of any type is to keep your phone free of dirt, scratches, and the dreaded cracked screen. The hardness rating of a liquid screen protector varies, but ones like the Wet-Guard Liquid Screen Protection product offer a 9H+ hardness rating. This is impressive on a scale that only goes up to 10 which is considered the equivalent of a diamond. Assuming you don’t generally carry cut diamonds around in the same pocket as your phone this will give you more than adequate protection against the usual suspects of keys and loose change scratching your screen.
- Ease of application – The application process of liquid screen protection is very simple. Most of these products will contain an alcohol solution to clean the debris and grease off the screen, a microfiber cloth to buff the screen and the liquid screen protector applicator itself. The process is only four steps and can take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to complete. Step one is to clean off the screen with the alcohol wipe, step two is using the cloth to wipe of excess alcohol and clean the screen off, step three is applying the screen protector liquid then after leaving this to dry for a bit you use the cloth again to wipe off any excess and buff the screen up to a high shine.
- Bubble-free – Once correctly applied the liquid screen protector will leave no annoying bubbles on your screen thus protecting the aesthetics of the device – a big plus here!
- Touch Responsiveness– Being such a thin layer of protection means that there is no disconnect between your finger and the screen that can happen with thicker options.
- One size fits all– This is another great selling point for liquid screen protectors – the same product can be used on all devices. This is particularly useful for the latest wave of smartphones such as the Samsung Edge range or the new iPhone X which have curved screens offering complete edge to edge protection rather than just the front of the device.
- Cleanliness – Products such as the Wet-guard product mentioned earlier also have the added benefit of being anti-bacterial and kill up to 99.9% of bacteria on the screen perfect if you have children using the device.
- Coverage – While it is easy to apply, the incredibly clear nature of the coating means it is hard to see if you have missed any sections on your screen. This can be remedied by being methodical in the application process.
- Price – Liquid screen protectors are generally pricier than their tempered glass counterparts. However they almost always last longer, so you get more for your money.
What is a Tempered Glass Screen protector?
A tempered glass screen protector is a highly durable piece of glass that adheres to the front of your device. Thickness varies between brands but generally between 0.03 and 0.05 mm in thickness. Due to the thickness of the glass, it is highly visible when attached to a device. These have been around for a while now, and most people will have used this or something similar if they have ever used a protector on their device.
- Hardness – Like the liquid screen protectors most tempered glass screen protectors are very durable. The products I have found with a specified hardness rating ranged from about 6 to 8 on the scale so should protect your screen from most day to day scratches.
- Price – Look on eBay, and you will be able to see many tempered glass protectors for sale from 99 cents upwards (although I would look higher up the price scale and from a reputable manufacturer). This makes them an attractive proposition and easily replaced if broken.
- Stronger than standard glass protectors – A tempered glass screen protector will be at least 4 times stronger than a garden-variety glass protector and those enhanced with titanium nearly 6 times stronger. Be aware that some protectors sold as tempered glass are just normal glass.
- Impact protection – A tempered glass screen protector may offer slightly more impact protection than its liquid counterpart.
- Susceptible to breakage – Although very resistant to scratches, if enough pressure is applied to a point the glass protector is prone to shatter which can not only make removal difficult but the slivers of broken glass could penetrate the skin or even cause damage to the screen it was there to protect.
- Aesthetics – Due to the thickness of these protectors they are an obvious addition to the device which can ruin the aesthetics of today’s super sleek smartphones and tablets.
- Application – While tempered glass protectors are not difficult to attach to a device they are very prone to bubbles either due to a rogue dust particle, hair or even just a bit of air. This can be frustrating, and when you know there is a bubble it is very noticeable when you are using your device.
- Device specific – As there are so many different types of device it is impossible to have a one size fits all approach to tempered glass protectors. This means that prices vary wildly between devices and if your device no longer has protectors being made for it you will be without protection.
All things considered, both the liquid screen protector and tempered glass protector do a good job at looking after your tech’s screens, but the liquid screen protector just edges out the old guard due to its incredibly easy, bubble-free application and its durability. Another win for the liquid screen protector is that you can use it on any device which for me, as a curved screen lover, is a big plus. The ability to have my whole screen protected while still looking like the same sleek piece of kit is just too good to pass up.
If you are thinking “but wait, the liquid protector is way more expensive” think about this…how many glass protectors have you gone through? My guess is a lot be that due to having bubble perfection (having to use another protector because the previous one didn’t apply correctly) or because they have cracked or chipped it could be that the cheaper option here is not necessarily so.
The tempered glass protector has its place, and for those of you patient enough to apply them without dust magically appearing under them it will always be their first choice. However, it would seem this new breed of invisible protection will soon take the crown as the go-to screen protection product for those who like their tech to remain as beautiful as the day you unboxed it.
Check out a review here of our favourite screen protector: