What’s the Difference Between Screen Protectors ?

Tablets with screen protectors
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If you own a modern mobile device then you will no doubt be aware of the concept of a screen protector. Typically a thin layer of material that covers the devices display to ensure protection against scratches, impacts and even drops. Screen protectors have been around for a while now however, in recent times new materials have brought along more advanced screen protectors that offer superior protection.

These days there is a screen protector available for almost every mobile device, in some cases there are a variety. In this blog will be taking at look at the differences between the latest screen protector offerings to hopefully help you better understand which is the right screen protector for your device.

Plastic – Film

The classic screen protector. Plastic based screen protectors have been around for well over 10 years now and usually compile of an ultra thin film like plastic material that is pre-cut to the size of your devices display. Due to their age, plastic screen protectors are available for a wide range of devices from mobile handhelds, tablets, laptops and even larger displays such as a PC monitor. Their primary purpose is to protect the display against scratches while maintaining the image quality and touch panel responsiveness. This is typically achieved by an ultra thin material that has an adhesive backing that is applied directly to the devices display. With that said there is always an exception and it is possible to find thicker, more rigid plastic protectors. Plastic screen protectors can be found with a gloss or matt (anti glare) finish, more on that below.

Positive points:

– Wide range of device compatibility and availability.

– Lowest costing screen protector.

– Little to no affect on device image quality/touch responsiveness.

Negative points:

– Only protects device against scratches and light impact (display will still cracked if dropped).

– Can be tricky to apply to device due flimsy material and bubble build up.

– Shorter lifespan compared to other screen protectors due to soft plastic material easily wearing and scratching which results in a cloudy finish.

Glass – Tempered

Glass screen protectors are best viewed as the second generation. They have still been around for a number of years now but offer far improved protection to a devices display. This is largely due to them being made from a harder and thicker material than your typical plastic screen protector, in turn offering better protection against drops and heavier impacts. The material is very similar to what the devices display is likely made from, glass. Sometimes referred to as tempered glass or Gorilla Glass (any many more) this type of chemically strengthened glass was designed specifically for mobile devices and screen protectors. Another plus side to this material is how it feels on the device, they usually offer a much more factory/OEM feel and are not as prone to scratching as the standard display. More modern examples will also have some clever engineering to allow touch inputs to be registered without any issues. As with the plastic screen protectors they have an adhesive backing and apply directly to the devices display. They are also available in gloss and matt (anti glare) finishes.

What's the Difference Between Screen Protectors ? 1

A breakdown of the layers typically found in a glass screen protector.

Positive points:

– Good protection against scratches, drops and heavy impacts.

– Easier to apply when compared to a film based protector, can in some cases be removed and reused as well.

– More resistant to scratching compared to plastic materials and usually are covered in an anti fingerprint coating to aid in cleaning.

Negative points:

– Higher cost than plastic screen protectors and less device availability/compatibility.

– While the overall life expectancy is longer than a plastic based screen protector, they are prone to cracking, chipping and even shattering if the device is dropped or impacted (although this does usually save the devices display from the same fate).

– Are typically more bulky that other materials which can impact the ergonomics of a device, especially is a protective case is also fitted. This can also in some cases affect the touch responsiveness (although less likely on modern examples).

Anti Shock

The latest offering from the screen protector world. Can easily be mistaken as a plastic screen protector the anti shock material is ultra hard shatterproof screen protector that will protect your device against scratches, drops dust and other breakages. The finish is able to retain 99% of the screens image sharpness, is easy to install and can be removed and reused. The technology found in these screen protectors is designed absorb and dissipate shock from hard drops and impacts, in turn offering the best protection on the market. As with the other screen protectors these are complete with an adhesive backing which applies directly to the devices display. They are also available in a choice of gloss and matt (anti glare) finishes.

What's the Difference Between Screen Protectors ? 2

Anti shock screen protectors will protect the devices display against hard direct impacts.

Positive points:

– Best protection against scratches, drops and even hard direct impacts.

– Easy to apply with anti bubble technology and can be removed/reapplied.

– Longest life expectancy compared to other screen protectors.

Negative points:

– Low device compatibility/availability at the time of writing (major devices such as Microsoft Surface, Apple iPad/iPhone and flagship Android devices are available).

– Higher cost, similar to glass but sometimes slightly more.

Regular vs Anti Glare (Gloss vs Matt/Satin)

Hopefully by now you will have been able to make a decision which screen protector type is best suitable for your device when taking into considering the application and environment in which it will be used. As a final point we wanted to cover the difference between the gloss and matt (anti glare) finishes. Simply put the gloss finish will give a similar look to your devices display, this is great for the majority of people as it keeps the sharpness and quality of the image to its best. However, users who wishing to use their devices outdoors in direct sunlight may want to look at the anti glare options. These screen protectors will have a matt/satin finish to the surface which reduce glare and reflections, the trade off will be a slightly more washed out/cloudy image quality.  Below is an example of how gloss and anti glare compare when used outdoors:

What's the Difference Between Screen Protectors ? 3

Anti glare (left) vs gloss (right)


We offer a range of screen protectors for all of our rugged tablets, handheld computers, Apple iPad and Microsoft Surface devices. If you have any questions or would like some assistance with screen protectors then please contact us to speak with an expert.

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