Are you looking for a good screen protector but can’t figure out which company actually makes the best glass screen protectors for the iPhone?
Then fear not! We have broken down everything you need to know about glass screen protectors from its different types to what installation tools it comes with. If you just need a screen protector now, get a FloLab NanoArmour.
FloLab produces great screen protectors (high quality glass) at decent prices. Unlike the Zagg Invisible Shield which is average glass but costs too much or the Belkin InvisiGlass Ultra which is great glass but costs a lot. The NanoArmour is made from the same type of glass that the Belkin is but at a fraction of the price (even cheaper if you use the code “MRE10” at www.flolab.io).
If you want to know more about how to spot the best Glass Screen Protector for the iPhone XR/XS, keep reading!
We’ll be honest with you, weʼve been wanting to do this article for the longest time. The tipping point for us occurred a couple of months ago when we got a ton of review requests by companies claiming to have the best screen protector. Every one of these companies sent us a video of them bending it or of somebody lightly cutting paper on top of the glass.
What pushed us over the edge was when we asked for more details, and most of them said no.
And the cherry on top of this marketing fluff is that they would send us to another review, a puff piece and ask us to make a video version for our Youtube channel.
But at the end of the day, hereʼs the question you need to ask yourself. Is spending a bit more money on your screen protector worth it?
Different layers of a screen protector
Like cakes, a screen protector is actually made of layers.
The first layer, the one closest to your finger is the Oleophobic Coating. This coating minimizes face grease smearing but it also provides you with the supposed 9H hardness on your device.
The second layer is the actual glass.
The third layer is an Optical Clear Adhesive that allows the glass to stick to the fourth layer which is just a piece of clear plastic.
The fifth and last layer is the glue that actually sticks to the screen protector to your device. This adhesive is actually more important than you think.
Have you seen halo’s on your screen protectors?
Well, you shouldn’t have.
Haloʼs occurs when the adhesive isnʼt of good quality or when there isnʼt enough of it. We hadnʼt given much thought to the amount of adhesive but if youʼve ever used a cheap screen protector that had bubbles that never went away, itʼs because there wasnʼt enough adhesive or it was cheap adhesive.
Higher quality 2.5D screen protectors will have at least 0.18mm of adhesive whereas cheaper versions will be around 0.12mm. 3D Edge-to-Edge screen protectors, on the other hand, will have more glue at .25mm of glue because it needs that extra glue to ensure that the screen protector sticks to the slight curve of the iPhoneʼs edge.
Also, the thickness of the adhesive is going to play a part in the protection it offers in terms of impact protection. The more glue, the more impact itʼs going to absorb. Itʼs going to make it a bit more expensive as well.
- When a company says “super fast install”, it usually means that the glue isnʼt that great.
- The more adhesive you have, the slower bubbles disappear which is why some products tell you to wait 24 hours before losing your mind over bubbles.
- Cheaper screen protectors will be a little more susceptible to dust during the install as the thinner layer of glue wonʼt hid your install fails as well.
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Different types of glass
In general, thereʼs three levels of glass quality when it comes to iPhone screen protectors.
Crap Glass is hard to quantify where it comes from. Crap Glass is basically all the really cheap soda-lime glass that may be poorly manufactured or poorly tempered. Weʼve only got two pieces of terrible glass left and thatʼs the screen protector on our iPhone 7 and the remnants of the Mime screen protectors we reviewed years ago.
From our perspective, any decently tempered glass should not break under the pressure of your fingernails.
The Tempered glass is basically made from regular Soda Lime glass which is what 99% of the worldʼs glass is made from and is tempered. We’re going to place Zaggʼs basic Invisible Shield at this level. This is where your JetTech and ESR products sit as well.
At this level, the most popular provider of screen protector glass is AGC and NSG which are both Japanese companies. AGC is the new name for Asahi Glass Company. When youʼre looking at a screen protector and the marketing fluff says Asahi, it sounds fancy but itʼs most likely going to be a mid-level glass. Oddly enough, we havenʼt seen many products boast that they use Nippon glass. Guess it doesnʼt sound as fancy?
Tempered glass is made by heating up to 620 degrees celsius and then cooling it down quickly. Cheap stuff gets tempered for 2 hours, the more expensive glass ones gets tempered at 4 hours which means itʼs stronger.
But if you’re going to base your purchase with those facts, just remember that an average person can’t tell the difference between an average tempered product and the next grade up in terms of strength.
Premium glass is made from Alumino-Silicate glass, which is incredibly strong. And is made stronger by soaking it in even more chemicals. This glass forms the basis for products like Gorilla Glass, Schott, Dragon Trail, and Panda glass. Alumino-Silicate glass is a type of glass that technically has a superior impact and scratch resistance. This is why smartphone manufacturers use it for their screens.
The facts above might entice you but an average person can’t tell the difference. The easiest way to tell is to look at the edge of the screen protector. Alumino-Silicate glass has a more yellow edge whereas everything else has a blue/green edge.
From our perspective, the standout feature of the expensive stuff (like Belkinʼ Corning 2 and Uoloʼs Panda glass) is the fact that the product can be thinner so itʼs not as noticeable when youʼre gesturing on your iPhone. Other than that, the upgrade in protection isnʼt going to be that noticeable.
The last observation we have about the Alumino-Silicate glass is that nobody uses name brand glass (Corning) in 3D Edge-to-Edge screen protectors. We’re guessing that itʼs just way too expensive to make them.
The NanoArmour uses Alumino-Silicate glass that is on the same level as the Corning 2 glass used in the Belkin InvisiGlass Ultra you get at Apple. But at a fraction of the cost. Again, the cost gets even better if you use our code “MRE10” at www.flolab.io.
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For the longest time, we didnʼt give much thought to the installation tools but the quality does matter.
The bare minimum for installation tools for the average screen protector is a set of wipes, a microfibre cloth, and dust stickers. If your screen protector comes with just the glass, youʼve been scammed.
In general, we know that the best way to clean your screen is to use water or water and mild soap if itʼs pretty bad. Anything else is generally not a good idea because it will strip the coating off of whatever youʼre cleaning. Despite that general knowledge, weʼve seen a lot of companies provide alcohol wipes which will remove some of the oleophobic coatings from your device when you wipe it down.
In addition to stripping, the alcohol wipes usually leave wet streaks which means you have to use the microfibre cloth to clean the tiny mess up. Premium screen protectors will include a dry wipe which is only slightly moist and doesnʼt leave any streaks after you clean the surface of your device. These wipes are designed to be used with electronic devices, not with your veins.
Good cloths absorb water easily. Poor cloths push the water around and thatʼs a bad thing since you want the microfibre cloth to collect all the grease and dust particles from your screen before you put a screen protector on it.
For the longest time, we always thought these blue dust stickers were just awful because we generally couldnʼt use it more than once. But we learned that these blue stickers are actually pretty good because the adhesive is thin and theyʼre statically charged which aids in dust removal.
Install frames and tools
When bezel-less iPhoneʼs first came out, not many companies packaged their screen protectors with an install frame. Most do now. Some companies even include easy to use install tools like Spigen.
PROTIP: Donʼt get screen protectors if it doesnʼt include an install frame.
With the FloLab products, each screen protector comes with an electronic wipe (non-alchoholic), a blue dust sticker, high-quality micro-fibre cloth and an install frame.
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Difference between 2.5D and 3D screen protectors
2.5D screen protectors’ edge is formed by grinding it down. On a 3D screen protector, the edge is formed by hot-bending the glass.
This process is much more involved and if youʼre wondering why 3D screen protectors have a black edge to them, itʼs this bending and curving process will result in imperfections in the glass so that black line is there to make it look nice.
The 2.5D screen protector is also cheaper to make as you can drill 1000ʼs at a time. 3D screen protectors are created at a much slower rate and what makes it even worse is that the defect rate is going to be higher.
Which one should you choose?
It depends on your preference. 2.5D screen protectors wonʼt offer as much protection as it will leave your bezel exposed which is a big deal if youʼre using an iPhone XR. But from our experience, the products with the best glass, such as the Belkin Invisible Shield and Uolo Panda glass only comes in 2.5D.
How about the 5D and 10D glass?
Those are just marketing gimmicks.
With the NanoArmour, they have three kinds of fit. A 2.5D, 3D and 3D Case-friendly. Your 2.5D and 3D Case-friendly will work with any case (the 3D case-friendly extends past the viewable area offering a bit more protection) and the 3D Edge to Edge will work with any Mous Limitless or Clarity (our goto case).
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Thereʼs generally two ways the Oleophobic coating gets applied. The first is by spraying it. The second is to have it statically applied.
If you were wondering, the statically charged one is more expensive.
Spray coatings might last a few months while the expensive variants of spray coatings will be at around 6 months. But you’re most likely not gonna notice it.
If you really want to see the difference, grab a water dropper and leave some water droplets on your screen. For the screen protectors with a good oleophobic coating, the water droplets will bunch up better than screenʼs that have a poor coating.
Also, hereʼs something that weʼve been wrong about over the years. We found out that 9H hardness comes from the coating. Not the glass. The tempering of the glass presents cracking under impact whereas the coating is what prevents scratches. This means as the coating goes away, your screen protector is going to get scratched because the protection isnʼt there!
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If you go to Amazon, youʼll see screen protectors that claim to be 99.9% clear which is highly unlikely. The glass by itself might be but when you start layering it with coatings, a couple of layers of glue and a piece of plastic, the clarity falls down to 92%.
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So this is our How to spot the best Glass Screen Protector for the iPhone XR/XS (and every other iPhone out there)! Have any questions? Leave them below! Definitely SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube Channel to stay on top of all the new things we review!
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