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Choosing the right screen protector for your smartphone

Choosing the right screen protector for your smartphone

Belkin ScreenForce Tempered Glass Anti-Microbial Screen Protector

Even though modern smartphones come with glass screens that offer good scratch and break resistance, having a screen protector gives users an added sense of security. In addition, they can add “features” to the smartphone, like improved privacy or visibility, depending on the use case. In this guide, we'll go through some considerations when choosing a screen protector for your smartphone.

Privacy filter applied on an iPhone. Credit: Spigen

Flexible film vs tempered glass

The vast majority of screen protectors these days are made of glass. And within the glass category, there are many options that determine how your screen will look and feel after applying the overlay. However, there are still a few scenarios when choosing a plastic-based flexible screen protector will make sense.

First, you may have a screen that's slightly curved at the edges. If the tempered glass overlay isn't precisely sized for your phone model, the protector's corners and edges may not adhere to the screen properly. Because it's more flexible and thinner, a plastic screen protector may fit better instead.

Also, if you are super sensitive about weight and thickness, especially if you use a smaller phone, a flexible plastic overlay is lighter, and thinner than tempered glass versions. 

Do note that if you choose a flexible film screen protector, they tend to take more time to apply, and you have to be more careful about getting rid of air bubbles.

Different tempered glass options explained

If you've decided to go with tempered glass, there are still choices to make. By default, the most basic tempered glass protector options will have a clear, glossy finish that ensures colours and brightness are similar to using the phone without a screen protector. Here are some other options you may encounter, and what they mean.

Matte finish: This type of tempered glass screen protector gives a slightly textured, still smooth, but powdery feel to the screen's surface. It's best for those who feel their fingers/palms are sweaty or greasy, and hate leaving smudges on glossy screen surfaces. In certain gaming scenarios, like when using a virtual joystick playing Brawl Stars, Asphalt, or Mobile Legends, users may find it smoother, improving gameplay performance. Do note that colours and brightness may feel muted upon applying a matte screen protector, so make sure you're okay with that.

Privacy filter: These screen protectors will dramatically lower the viewing angle of your screen, so you can only see what's on it when viewing it almost straight on. Someone sitting beside you will only see a dark screen. This is great if you care greatly about others not seeing your WhatsApp messages, or have to key in passwords frequently, and worry about others looking over to steal them.

The downside is that it also cuts out quite a bit of light, so you may have to turn up your screen brightness, which will affect battery life. It also makes it hard to share content, so if you want to show your friend a funny cat video, she has to come really close to you to see what's on your screen.

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Belkin anti blue light
Belkin makes an anti blue light screen protector. Credit: Belkin

Anti-blue light: A version of the clear type of screen protectors also claim to cut out blue light. Blue light is said to increase fatigue, or cause eyestrain, so the logic is to reduce it before it reaches your eyes. It may be worth a try if you face those issues, but do take note that this screen protector will affect the colours displayed on the screen. Also, some smartphone manufacturers are also building blue-light protection into the screens themselves, so you may not actually need a blue-light filter.

Get a screen protector with a fail-proof application kit

The best way to apply a screen protector is to visit your neighbourhood mobile phone shop. The person sitting behind that counter applies screen protectors hundreds of times a week, and will likely do an amazing job for you.

Snapiel Screen Protector
Credit: Aloysius Low/Can Buy or Not

If you prefer to do it yourself, spend a few extra dollars buying one that has an application kit. This usually comes in the form of a bracket, which perfectly fits your phone model. From there, it's just a matter of cleaning the screen properly, and dropping in the tempered glass overlay.

However, do take note that these kits are usually made for the most popular models like iPhones, Samsung Galaxy phones, or brands popular in China (since most screen protectors are made by Chinese manufacturers).

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