Shellrus Sapphire X is a premium, high-end screen protector. For an $80 screen protector, Shellrus Sapphire X will protect your iPhone from any scratches you can think of. The only problem we have is it isn’t as strong as the FloLab NanoArmour when it comes to impact protection. Get all the details in our Shellrus Sapphire Screen Protector Review!
4.9 Eh’s out of 5
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- Extreme scratch resistance
- Unique feel
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What is Shellrus?
Shellrus is a new company that’s been around for a year or so, but they’ve been playing with Sapphire for at least five years now.
Do you guys remember GT Advanced Technologies? They were all the rage back in 2013-2014 because they were making Sapphire things for the iPhone 6’s. But GT Advanced Technologies left the Sapphire glass business in 2014, and out of that whole bankruptcy kerfuffle, Shellrus bought several hundred of the furnaces to start making sapphire on their own. Over the last few years, they’ve refined the process to the point where we can slap a piece of Sapphire on our iPhone’s.
What is Sapphire Glass?
Regular glass is made by melting sand. Sapphire is made by growing it using a special furnace. A seed ingot is first placed into the furnace followed by a large quantity of Aluminum Oxide. The entire mixture is heated to 2100 degrees with helium being used to cool a specific part of the furnace which creates the ingot over time.
It takes 21 days to grow a 140kg ingot which can make about 900 screen protectors. The process of turning it into a screen protector is generally the same as regular glass. You shape it, cut it, polish it, put some coatings on it and sell it. The manufacturing process was the most surprising tidbit of information that we came across in our Shellrus Sapphire screen protector review.
Shellrus Sapphire X Review
The Shellrus Sapphire X is made from synthetic sapphire, which has been cut to .23mm, which is thinner than the average screen protector at 0.33mm.
Shellrus Sapphire X isn’t a full edge to edge screen protector, so depending on your iPhone, there might be an exposed gap between whatever case you use and the screen protector. Shellrus is coming out with a full edge to edge screen protector in the next few months, which will solve that problem. However, with the smaller screen protector, it’s going to fit with any case you choose.
The Shellrus Sapphire X has a notch for the front-facing speaker, but everything else gets covered. We didn’t notice a big difference in image quality with our front-facing camera being covered.
Installation wasn’t excellent as Shellrus didn’t have install tools with the products they sent us, but we’ve been told they will have them on the actual product. That’s a good thing as even in our ninja-like skills for screen protector installs. As a plus, the glass doesn’t bend much, which is a problem with certain glass screen protectors if you peel it off your iPhone too much.
The screen protector also feels different. It’s just as smooth as other higher quality glass, but it feels different as the sapphire transfers heat much quicker than glass. Shellrus Sapphire X feels colder to the touch is the best way we can describe it. It’s a neat feeling.
The last thing we’ll note, and this is probably one of the coolest things that we’ve seen in terms of a glass screen protector is that at the bottom of the screen protector, there is a faint watermark. We’ve been using the screen protector on our iPhone 11 for several weeks and only noticed it when we were trying to figure out how our iPhone got scratched.
The first test we did with the Shellrus Sapphire X was the fingernail test. Cheap screen protectors will crack under the pressure of our hands. The Shellrus Sapphire X did not.
When it comes to scratch protection, the average tempered glass screen protector will claim 9H hardness. Often you’ll see companies promote the scratch resistance by lightly cutting a piece of paper on top of an iPhone with their screen protector on it. But here’s the thing, your typical box knife has a hardness of about 6. The glass has a theoretical 9. It’s like testing a bulletproof vest against a Nerf dart.
We’ve been reviewing screen protectors for years, and 9H hardness is generally not right. Scratches will always show up because either the oleophobic coating gets scratched or the glass itself gets scratched. And micro-abrasions almost show up 100% of the time. The screen protector below has been in use for two weeks now, and there is nothing on it.
To figure this out, we took three iPhones, one with an Airo Collective screen protector, which is a normal tempered screen protector, one with our current favorite from FloLab, which is double tempered and the Shellrus Sapphire X screen protector.
Our first scratch test was to use a random rock we found outside. This particular rock had a corner that had something that was harder than 9H as it chewed up the normal glass screen protectors.
On the Shellrus Sapphire X? Nothing. It was mind-blowing.
Next up was the box knife test which didn’t leave any marks on any screen protector. That’s to be expected.
The last scratch test was done with our leatherman. Both the Airo Collective and Flolab screen protectors were destroyed by the file but the Sapphire X showed absolutely no signs of damage.
For the more technical folks, we used a set of Moh’s hardness picks, and the screen protector lightly scratched at 8 with heavier scratching on 9.
To figure that out, we took the screen protector out for a spin with the screen crusher and Bertha, our 200g steel ball. We started the first drop at about 80cm, which is the average height for tempered glass, and it broke, which was surprising because we were on a mild high from scratch protection.
We did several other drops on the unbroken parts of the screen protector, and each fall broke within 80-85cm, which puts it at the same level as regular tempered glass. This drop result is about 30-40cm lower than our current pick, the FloLab NanoArmour, in terms of impact.
That was disappointing as we were hoping it would be super tough. But in reality, the Shellrus Sapphire X is going to be tougher than that because it doesn’t scratch. We’ve broken enough screen protectors to know that a minor scratch can easily turn into a big crack if dropped. That’s not going to happen with the Shellrus Sapphire X.
After all that, you’re probably pretty excited about this product. But here’s the kicker. It isn’t cheap. At $80, you can buy 4 Flolab Nanoarmours which will last you a while for the same price as the Sapphire X. But we don’t think it’s an unreasonable price because it takes a lot more effort to create the raw sapphire ingot. Remember 21 days to grow a clump of glass.
Is it worth it? That’s up to you? If you’ve got the cash to burn than absolutely but at the end of the day, it’s still glass, it’s still going to break so it’s still consumable. But if you want the best of the best, this Sapphire X is the way to go.