Plastic vs. Glass screen protectors. Which one should you get?
Over the last couple of years, in addition to plastic and glass screen protectors, weʼve reviewed liquid screen protectors as well as hybrid glass screen protectors. For the impatient, in general we feel that:
- Liquid Glass screen protectors should not be used by themselves but will add a little bit to the impact protection of existing screen protectors
- Hybrid Glass screen protectors are on the same level as plastic screen protectors (they feel more plastic than glass)
At the end of the day, go with a plastic/hybrid screen protector if you want maximum drop protection and glass if you want maximum coverage and usability.
Liquid Glass Screen Protectors
Most liquid screen protectors are made from Silicone Dioxide (SiO2). The product comes in a wipe format and you slather it on as many devices as you possible can.
Most products will include a plethora of marketing fluff which includes re-adding the oleophobic coating and improving scratch resistance and better impact protection.
Out of all the fluffy marketing pieces, the only one that we were able to prove was the improved impact protection.
The only benefit of Liquid Glass Screen Protectors is the fact that you can slather the screen protector on multiple devices. If youʼre looking for maximum protection for your existing glass screen and have the cash to burn, a liquid screen protector ~might be worth it.
Hybrid Glass Screen Protectors
Hybrid Glass screen protectors are a mix between plastic and glass. Weʼve come across two brands with hybrid screen protectors which are the Mous Hybrid Glass and the Zagg InvisibleShield Sapphire Defense.
As fancy as these products sound, they are essentially different materials layered on top of each other. We know the marketing fluff makeʼs it sound like the materials are blended but they are not.
From our perspective, these hybrid screen protectors give your screen the feel of a glass screen protector with the protection of a plastic screen protector. From our impact tests, we can tell you that these screen protectors are as tough as regular screen protectors.
The only drawback that weʼve come across is that the edge of the screen protector is noticeable. For those interested, Mousʼs HybridGlassʼs edge isnʼt as noticeable as Zaggʼs version.
What’s the difference between Plastic and Glass Screen Protectors?
A screen protector is probably the only thing we’d recommend any person get for their smartphone. The phones themselves have gotten tough enough that more people can get away without one. And honestly, if we had to choose between a broken screen or bent frame, we’d go with a bent frame. We’ve got an iPhone 6 Plus and 6s that have bent frames and we’re still using them without an issue.
What what type of screen protector should you get? Glass or Plastic? The biggest difference from our perspective is durability. Get a plastic screen protector if you’re rough on your iPhone. if you have a tendency to drop it a lot. Or have kids who treat your $1000 iPhone like a throwable toy. Other than that, go with a glass screen protector.TL:DR: Plastic lasts longer. Glass looks better.To elaborate on the difference between plastic and glass screen protectors, we will spend the rest of the rest of this post elaborating on the pros, cons and misconceptions for each type of screen protector. We will also talk about the differences between regular tempered glass screen protectors and Gorilla glass (or treated tempered glass). There are a few pieces of interesting information about screen protectors that we’ve accumulated over the years that we’ll share as well.
What does a screen protector actually do?
Before we get into the details, we have to make sure you guys know what a screen protector is actually going to do for your smartphone. All it does is provide an extra layer of protection. It doesn’t reinforce the actual screen. A bad edge drop may still break your screen. An unlucky drop where a rock makes contact between the case edge and screen protector will result in a break. It’s like wearing gloves when you’re working with your hands. The gloves will prevent scratches but doesn’t make your bones stronger.
What's great about Plastic Screen Protectors?
Let’s go with plastic screen protectors first. Here’s a couple of pros for plastic screen protectors:
- As we mentioned at the beginning, plastic screen protectors are very durable. We’ve seen plastic screen protectors absorb the impact of 200g steel balls dropped from 5ft, direct impacts from hammers and face first drops onto rocks. Unlike glass screen protectors, damage to the plastic screen protectors doesn’t grow over time. We will note that the amount of impact protection is related to the thickness of the screen protector. The thicker the screen protector, the tough it is.
- The second pro for plastic screen protectors is that they are reusable. You can take them off, store it and use it again. Some of them are even washable which helps with long term usage. This is important if you’re considering putting your iPhone in a waterproof case as most waterproof cases won’t work with a screen protector.
Is there anything wrong with Plastic Screen Protectors?
Now there is one major downside to plastic screen protectors. In general, plastic screen protectors will reduce the clarity of the smartphones touchscreen. Here are five things that contribute to that issue:
- Plastic screen protectors show scratches easier and scratches are usually permanent. Certain screen protectors have “healing” properties which will hide light scratches. Taking a steak knife to a healing screen protector will still leave a visible mark. Scratching will occur from keys, coins, stuff in purses and book bags.
- Lots of screen protectors have words like “fingerprint resistance” or “Oleophobic Coating”. From our perspective, these are fancy words that describe how gross your screen looks after playing Candy Crush for an hour. If you’ve seen a couple of our screen protector reviews, you’ll know that we call most plastic screen protectors fingerprint magnets. It will take many wipes to clear the screen which isn’t something you won’t have to do as often for glass screen protectors. We’ve been told that the smoother the plastic screen protector, the worse it is for fingerprints.
- Certain plastic screen protectors will diffuse the HD screen of your device. This usually occurs with built-in plastic screen protectors on cases. In general, we find glass screen protectors “clearer” than plastic screen protectors.
- Plastic screen protectors won’t offer 100% screen coverage. You won’t see a plastic edge to edge screen protector. Why? because the thickness needed to provide the impact protection won’t allow the screen protector to stick to a curved edges of the iPhone or S7 Edge. With that being said, your case is going to be able to fit any plastic screen protector.
- Some Plastic screen protectors aren’t as smooth as glass. There will be a noticeable difference between tracking your finger over a glass screen protector vs a plastic one.
So that’s all we have for plastic screen protectors. If this post has been useful to you, consider getting your stuff through our site. Nobody pays us to break our own iPhones and screen protectors so we’d be grateful for any support you’re willing to give.
Glass screen protectors must be better?
In general, glass screen protectors are the exact opposite of plastic screen protectors.
- The moment you crack a glass screen protector, it is done. Ever get a chip on a windshield and watch it travel across the entire pane of glass? It’s the same for glass screen protectors. In general, the worst offenders are screen protectors that don’t have rounded edges. On top of that, since it’s glass and glass can be sharp, there might be a chance that you cut yourself after a bad chip or crack. Unlike plastic screen protectors, you probably shouldn’t re-use a cracked screen protector.
- Glass screen protectors won’t offer as much impact protection. When you compare a high quality plastic screen protector against a high quality glass screen protector. If we had to take a hammer to my iPhone and had a choice, we’d go with a plastic screen protector.
Why would you get a glass screen protector then?
On to the Pros of glass screen protectors. Here’s three standout features of glass screen protectors
- Your smartphone screen is going to look great. Like nothing was sitting on top of the device. We haven’t come across a glass screen protector that made a noticeable difference in clarity. Fingerprinting isn’t a noticeable issue with glass screen protectors because of how easy it its to keep clean. and are easier to keep clean.
- Of you’ve been looking at screen protectors, you’ll notice that most of them claim to be of 9H hardness. Which technically means only a diamond should be only to scratch them but realistically, you’re going to see scratches develop over time. Sometimes we think it’s the oleophobic coating that’s scratched but we’ll try to take the screen protector off and it breaks at the scratch so we have no idea. Now it sounds like we’re ragging on the 9H hardness but it is much better than the 3H to 6H hardness offered by plastic screen protectors.
- Glass screen protectors come in edge-to-edge variations. The iPhone used in the video has a Evolutive Labs edge-to-edge screen protector which covers the entire glass face of the smartphone. Using an edge to edge screen protector means that your entire iPhone can be protected without going the route of a waterproof case. The downside of edge-to-edge screen protectors is that it may not fit the case that you want.
Useful tidbits of information we've gathered
Before we talk about some of the useful tidbits of information we’ve come across, check out some of our other tips including screen protector installation and tips to deal with cracked iPhone screens.
We’ve compiled these tidbits of information from various sources over the last few years. Take them with a grain of salt as we’re not 100% certain of the validity as it’s hard to get straight answers all the time. The only one we are certain is #2.
- Now when it comes to the actual glass, we have been told there is only a handful of factories that produce the glass used in tempered glass screen protectors. In general, there isn’t a difference in quality though we know that Thanotech uses a factory that produces Asahi glass that is suppose to be of better quality but an average person isn’t going to notice that.
- What’s the difference between Gorilla glass and regular tempered glass? Gorilla glass is still tempered glass but it’s been chemically treated which makes it stronger. We have noticed a difference in strength between the two types of glass. We’re still able to use the original Patchworks Silicate ITG glass after 6 installs. Which is ridiculous.
- Differences in oleophobic coating. Every glass screen protector has it but they are not the same. After the glass gets cut, the fingerprint resistant coating or oleophobic gets applied. Cheaper screen protectors will have the coating sprayed on while expensive one are statically applied. We don’t know the exact difference but here’s the kicker: the spray coating lasts only a month while the statically applied coatings will last three months. Let that sink in. One of the biggest selling features of the screen protectors will last between 1-3 months. The same goes for the actual screen of the smartphone.
Why it might not matter if you went with glass or plastic?
Now why would we say none of this matters? We equate it to buying a TV. When you’re at the store and you see all the TV’s beside each other, the minute differences between each product is evident. But if you take a random TV and setup it up in your house, there is a good chance you won’t see the differences because you have nothing to compare against. It’s the same with screen protectors. Plastic ones are harder to keep clean but you end up getting use to it and it becomes a non-issue. Cheaper plastic ones may yellow over time but you wouldn’t see the yellowing on an iPhone with a black face.
At the end of the day, it boils down to:
Plastic lasts longer. Glass looks better.