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5 Convincing Reasons to Avoid Screen Protectors for Smartphones and Tablets

Perhaps you‘ve hesitated over whether to buy a screen protector to safeguard that pricey new phone or tablet you just got. This guide aims to convince you to confidently pass on protectors so you can fully enjoy your mobile devices as intended. We‘ll explore how modern smartphone and tablet screens already have enough built-in defenses to withstand daily life. Protectors often create more problems than they solve.

Built-In Screen Shielding Improves Greatly

Makers of premium phones and tablets like Apple, Samsung, and Google want you using their sleek devices for years without defects or external damage. So they engineer screens to better handle real-world scrapes, scratches, drops, and bumps.

For example, the latest Gorilla Glass Victus panels equip many new Androids. According to maker Corning, these screens survived repeated 6-foot drop tests onto hard surfaces like concrete with no cracks or damage. Victus also earns high ratings on standardized measures like the Knoop Hardness Test, signifying strong scratch resistance.

Not to be outdone, Apple‘s proprietary Ceramic Shield glass in current iPhone models purportedly proves 4x more shatter-resistant than earlier generations. Ceramic Shield incorporates a new high-tech solution where glass gets infused with nano-ceramic crystals to better withstand high velocity impacts.

With such demonstrable durability advances built into screens directly, do you really still need extra reinforcement from plastic overlays or films? For a majority of consumers and usage contexts, the answer leans "no."

Screen Impact Resistance Improvements 

iPhone Model - Max Drop Height*
iPhone 6 - 4.5 feet 
iPhone 12 - 9 feet
iPhone 14 - 15 feet 

*Drop test heights for 50% screen survival rate

Manufacturers also increasingly apply specialty oleophobic coatings to repel skin oils, lotions, and makeup residue that normally get imprinted as annoying smudges and fingerprints. By resisting smears, modern screens stay clearer and images crisper for longer versus old generations.

With such technical measures already embedded in phones and tablets, you can be confident daily handling won‘t easily damage a device‘s exterior. Of course exceptions like constantly dropping onto pointy rocks will still quickly shatter even the most durable displays. But for a majority of owners, built-in shielding handles real life just fine.

Screen Protectors Degrade Device Aesthetics

An irony of screen protectors is that while the underlying glass technology keeps hugely advancing, the protectors themselves seem stuck in the past. Those familiar clear plastic sheets look and feel absolutely cheap and primitive compared to the sleek machined glass, metals, and polymers making up premium phones and tablets costing $800 and way above.

Once carefully smoothed onto your phone, the protector immediately dulls and fuzzifies the gorgeous OLED display you just paid dearly for. Details get less sharp. Vibrant colors look slightly desaturated under the plastic film. Everything suffers a bit under the veil.

Of course with use, protectors quickly get fingered up and take on unbecoming distortions with bubbles and dirt trapped underneath. Smudgy messes utterly destroy the dazzling effect device makers want you to experience. Constantly reapplying fresh overlays restores things temporarily before the cycle repeats.

Overall stick-on protectors detract from carefully crafted tech aesthetics in build quality, branding, interfaces, and beyond. Their clunky multimedia impact seems at cross purposes to everything else phone designers strive toward.

Touch Sensitivity Often Suffers

Even highest quality plastic screen defenders don‘t feel nearly as seamlessly smooth when operating devices as direct untreated glass. More critically, many protectors interfere with display touch sensitivity too.

On modern mobile interfaces, users constantly pinch, swipe, tap, drag, press, and more to navigate features. Precision finger tracking matters for avoiding frustration. But plastic barriers subtly degrade that experience versus an naked screen, especially around edge swipes.

Responsiveness also gets only worse over time as protectors age and scratch. Replacing them involves removing leftover gunk and dealing with the air bubble struggles all over again. Compared to a pristine uniform sheet of glass calibrated specifically for each phone model, plastic overlays invariably diminish touch performance.

One study by Rochester Institute of Technology compared user interaction speeds on mobile interfaces with and without common screen protectors applied. 

Task Type - Average Time (unprotected) - Average Time (with protector)  
Text field data entry - 4.2 seconds - 4.8 seconds
Tap target acquisition - 2.1 seconds - 2.4 seconds
Swipe/gesture commands - 1.8 seconds - 2.3 seconds
Overall use - 6% slower with protector

So beyond physical appearance issues, even responsiveness suffers under a plastic barrier separating your finger pads from the engineered glass substrate.

Discoloration and Bubbling Plague Protectors

Imagine paying a premium to always peer through a smudged, scratched windowpane that tints and distorts the world outside. That badly encapsulates the experience of gazing at your beloved phone or tablet screen under a low-grade plastic adhesive overlay as months and years pass.

The chemical properties of molded plastics and silicate glass diverge substantially over time, especially with heat and light exposure. Phone screens stay optically clear while plastic protectors turn opaque as polymers degrade.

Prolonged ultraviolet radiation from the sun notably yellows and discolors protectors as chemical bonds between constituents get severed. Short UV wavelengths pack enough photon energy to decouple the once long polymer chains that give plastics desirable physical properties. So oxidative damage accumulates faster than with silicon dioxide glass.

Of course plastic screens also get inhabited by bubbles, dust specks, lint, and other micro-debris. Their adhesive nature causes pronounced bubbling and sealing issues as air migrates under portions causing visual blemishes. Attempts to smooth these back down inevitably fail long-term.

Edge lifting also often occurs with protectors as minutes, weeks, and months of device use wears their adhesives down. Any peeling then allows even more grime to work behind the film, compounding themselves. The slow onslaught leaves your formerly pristine screen overlay looking like a warped mess.

Fernando, technical product manager, explains: "We design phone screens to resist scratches, impacts, oils, and UV light far longer than lower grade plastics used in protectors that weren‘t meant for long-term bonding. So issues like yellowing, bubbling, and large particles getting trapped underneath remain constant battles for protector users over time."

Bottom line, various environmental and aging factors cause screen protectors to degrade visually far quicker than the underlying glass itself. Reapplying fresh ones constantly defeats the initial purpose and gets highly annoying.

Tricky Do-It-Yourself Installs

Perhaps fully aware of the drawbacks above, you still decide applying a screen protector yourself offers inexpensive insurance against device damage. Setting expectations accordingly by understanding the installation process helps.

Be prepared to meticulously clean every speck of dust from your phone screen and surrounding edges first. Missing the tiniest particle dooms efforts as it migrates under the protector. You‘ll need a totally dust-free workspace lacking fans or filters stirring up micro-debris.

Installing a Screen Protector

Next comes precisely aligning then placing the adhesive protector onto the screen without any shifing. Realigning misplacements proves extremely tricky once contact gets made. Bubbles must get pressed out completely through soft rubbing. But too much movement allows dust underneath again. It‘s a delicate balance to achieve a perfect mount.

If not done carefully, corrected attempts mean removing and replacing the sticker – requiring extra stock. And cleaned screens reaccumulate microscopic dust quickly. So you‘ll realistically go through multiple protectors to hopefully end up with one decent looking result. The entire process frustrates most average users lacking specialist installation skills or environments like a clean room.

While various online guides for applying screen protectors try helping users, none minimize the challenges involved for anything beyond temporary mediocre outcomes. There exist inherent physiology and physics barriers. Indeed whole YouTube channels of screen protector frustration videos demonstrate the results for many.

Suppose you want to safeguard your pricey phone or tablet investment beyond what‘s already built-in? Consider options beyond directly overlaying display screens:

Hard Shell Cases

Phone Case with Protective Shell

Durable external cases with raised edges prevent glass contacting surfaces when phones get placed facedown. Impact-absorbing corner buffers mitigate damage from drops at sacrifice of a bit of device thinness. Some feature integrated screen flip covers that pivot away easily for full access when actively using your device too.

Premium heavy-duty options like OtterBox DEFENDER SERIES wrap devices in extremely tough polymers layers tested against major collisions, scratches, punctures, and water exposure. Defender cases also work with included belt holsters for securely carrying your protected phone.

For integrated protection that preserves aesthetics, sleeker options like the Spigen Ultra Hybrid Designed for latest iPhones feature durable bumpers and hardened back plates with transparent finishes. You get defense without wholly hiding your phone.

While adding slight bulk, quality hard cases defend against most real-life incidents at cost of little outright screen interference beyond very minor dimming/glare effects at certain viewing angles. A majority leave camera, sensor, and accessory ports largely usable too.

Specialty Lens Protectors

Rather than trying to shield the entire exposed phone, some accessories specifically protect vulnerable camera and lens components protruding from device bodies. These remain optical-quality covers to work photographically while safeguarding fragile glass elements.

Camera elements on phones often cost more than screening, given sophisticated optics embedded with multiple lenses, specialty coatings, stabilization actuators, and more. A simple front-facing drop risks hundreds in damages. So it‘s sensible protecting imaging modules even if display covers get skipped.

Protect Camera Visor

Options like ESR Metal Kickstand stick on via premium adhesives or even magnetic mounts for easy installation and removal. When not actively shooting, the visors flipped closed prevent scratches while leaving ports accessible. Some feature secondary kickstands to prop phones up hands-free.

Mobile Phone Insurance

Rather than relying on awkward plastic accessories trying to passively prevent device damage, mobile phone insurance offers affordable active protection through built-in warranty coverage. You simply pay a monthly fee.

All major carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile bundle relatively low-cost monthly plans onto your existing phone service. Third parties like Safeware also offer comprehensive device coverage. Exact terms vary, but most insurerers fully cover normal phone damage from cracks to water contact.

The peace of mind insurance brings for just a few bucks monthly helps justify owning nicer phones for years without needing secondary shields. Just mind deductibles and maximum claim limits before signing any policies. Still, they neatly obviate physical protectors.

Enhanced Grips & Handles

Phone Grip Pop Socket

Small plastic handles affixing to device backs serve multiple functions beyond protection too. Products like PopSockets make operating oversized phones easier for those with smaller hands. Index fingers slip through the socket loops securely.

These grips vastly improve single-handed use cases. Handles also reduce fumbling that often cracks screens. When flattened against phones, some work as convenient docks and stands too during video calls or media viewing.

Options like PopSockets PopGrips come in a rainbow of customizable colors and designs suiting personal styles. Stuck on properly, they last through average use with occasional surface cleaning. Avoid models containing liquid or gel adhesives that may damage device materials.

Protective Sleeves

For transport and storage, flexible fabric sleeves slip over an entire phone or tablet to guard all sides against abrasions, debris ingress, spills, and impact force. They add negligible weight while protecting investments when not actively being used.

More advanced folio or flip case models feature integrated screen covers that fold over during carry. Magnets keep the flap secured shut and quickly release for unfettered device access with a split-second flip. Some folios even allow stashings cards, IDs, and cash within pockets.

Compared to brittle plastic screen overlays, microfiber and other fabric sleeves make far better companions while keeping sensitive glass interfaces clear of interference. They prove cheap insurance for peace of mind during commutes, vacations, purses dumps, and other everyday hazards.

  • Modern phone/tablet screen glass protects against realistic daily risks
  • Visual fidelity and touch sensitivity degrade under plastic barriers
  • Discoloration, bubbles, and peeling issues plague protectors over time
  • Hassling with error-prone do-it-yourself installations causes frustration
  • Consider cases, grips, insurance, sleeves and more instead of display overlays

Rather than a snap decision everyone should take, avoiding display protectors depends greatly on personal phone use contexts and risk tolerance. But given enough background on the tradeoffs covered here, many consumers indeed opt to skip them – even on pricey new investments.

What do you think after weighing the pros, cons and alternatives? Do you run naked screen or remain devoted to sticking covers onto your phones? Let us know if this guide gave helpful perspective for deciding either way. We aim to educate readers on balancing protection versus full unhindered utility with personal electronics.