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10 Reasons You Need a Screen Protector for Your Smartphone or Tablet

In the digital age, our smartphones and tablets have become indispensable tools for work, communication, and entertainment. Americans now spend an average of 5-6 hours per day on their mobile devices, with nearly 50% of that time spent on apps and web browsing.[^1] With how much we rely on our devices, it‘s more important than ever to protect them from damage – especially the screen.

A screen protector is a thin sheet of material that adheres directly to your device‘s display. Its main purpose is to guard the screen against scratches, cracks, and shattering from drops and impacts. But a good screen protector offers many additional benefits beyond just physical protection.

As a digital technology expert, I highly recommend using a screen protector on your smartphone or tablet. Here are the top 10 reasons why:

1. Prevent Costly Screen Damage

Mobile devices aren‘t cheap, and the most expensive component to replace is often the screen. For example, Apple charges $329 to repair the screen on an iPhone 13 Pro Max, over 30% of the cost of a new device.[^2] Screen damage is extremely common – 50% of smartphone owners have experienced a cracked screen at least once.[^3]

While many modern devices use strengthened glass like Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, they are still susceptible to shattering on impact. A screen protector acts as a sacrificial layer, absorbing the shock energy from drops and bumps. If the protector breaks, it‘s simple and affordable to replace compared to the screen itself.

2. Defend Against Scratches and Scuffs

Even if your phone‘s screen is shatter-resistant, it can still get scratched from everyday use. Scratches typically occur when the screen rubs against rough surfaces like keys, coins, sand, and grit. A screen protector creates a barrier against these abrasive materials to keep your screen looking pristine.

Screen protectors are available in several different materials, each with pros and cons:

Material Pros Cons
Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Inexpensive, thin, guards against scratches Doesn‘t absorb impacts well, can have rainbow effect
Thermoplastic Polyreuthane (TPU) Flexible, self-healing, better impact protection than PET Thicker than PET, can yellow over time
Tempered Glass Smooth surface feel, highest scratch and shatter resistance, 90-95% display clarity Most expensive, thickest material, can reduce touch sensitivity

Tempered glass is widely considered the best material for preventing scratches and cracks. It‘s made by heating glass to over 600°C, then rapidly cooling it. This process creates compression on the surface, resulting in a harder material that‘s resistant to cracks and scratches.[^4]

3. Reduce Glare and Eye Strain

Many screen protectors have an anti-glare matte coating that scatters ambient light, making the screen easier to view and reducing eye strain. This is especially useful when using your device outdoors or under bright lighting.

Blue light emitted by mobile device screens can also contribute to digital eye strain and disrupt natural sleep cycles. Some screen protectors include a blue light filter to reduce the amount of high-energy visible (HEV) light that reaches your eyes without distorting colors. Studies show that limiting blue light exposure, especially at night, can improve sleep quality and reduce symptoms of eye fatigue.[^5]

4. Repel Smudges and Fingerprints

If you‘ve ever used a phone without a screen protector, you know how quickly the screen can become a smudgy mess from fingerprints and face oils. Many screen protectors have an oleophobic coating that repels these oils and makes it easier to wipe the screen clean.

The coating works by increasing the surface energy and contact angle between the screen and oil, causing it to bead up and easily wipe away rather than smearing.[^6] An oleophobic coating can make your screen look cleaner and clearer with less frequent cleaning required.

5. Maintain Touch Sensitivity

A common misconception is that adding a screen protector will reduce touch sensitivity and interfere with features like fingerprint sensors. While a poor quality or improperly installed screen protector may have these issues, a high quality protector will maintain your screen‘s responsiveness and performance.

Look for screen protectors that boast "99% touch sensitivity" or "touch accuracy." Tempered glass protectors 0.3mm or thinner typically have no noticeable impact on touch controls. Many protector brands are designed with cut-outs or transparent sections to be compatible with fingerprint sensors as well.

6. Safeguard Your Privacy

Using your mobile device in public can put your sensitive information at risk of wandering eyes. Privacy screen protectors use micro-louver technology to drastically reduce the viewing angles of the screen. When viewed straight-on the screen will appear normal, but from side angles the screen will look dark and obscured.

Privacy screen protectors are available in two-way (portrait) and four-way (landscape and portrait) formats. They‘re an effective defense against visual hacking, which is the act of gathering information by simply looking at someone‘s screen. Nearly 90% of visual hacking attempts are successful, so a privacy screen is a smart choice for viewing confidential data on the go.[^7]

7. Block Bacteria and Microbes

Studies have found that mobile phones can harbor 17,000 bacterial gene copies per phone, 10 times more than a toilet seat.[^8] Touching your device screen transfers germs and microbes that can potentially make you sick, which is concerning in the age of COVID-19.

Antimicrobial screen protectors are embedded with substances that inhibit the growth of microorganisms. Spigen‘s Glas.tR Platinum tempered glass has an antimicrobial coating that the company claims kills up to 99.9% of bacteria on the screen‘s surface.[^9] While an antimicrobial screen protector shouldn‘t replace regular cleaning and hand hygiene, it can complement those habits to keep your screen more sanitary.

8. Preserve Resale Value

Keeping your device in pristine condition is key to getting the highest resale price when it‘s time to upgrade. Even if your phone or tablet works perfectly, a scratched or cracked screen is a major ding on its value. Mobile buyback companies and private buyers heavily consider the screen condition when evaluating a device for trade-in.

For example, an iPhone 12 Pro Max with 256GB storage on Verizon in good condition is worth $635 for trade-in. The same device with a cracked screen is only worth $465, a 27% loss in value.[^10] A quality screen protector is a small investment that can pay big dividends in helping retain your device‘s worth over time.

9. Customize Device Appearance

If you want to personalize the look of your phone or tablet, a screen protector is a great way to change up the appearance without applying a skin or case. Protectors are available in a variety of colors, designs, and finishes to suit your aesthetic preferences.

A screen protector can add a subtle colored tint, a bold pattern, or a completely transparent look. Matte finishes can minimize the appearance of fingerprints and smudges for a consistently clean look. Tempered glass protectors feel smooth and glossy like your device‘s original screen.

10. Save Money on Repairs

The cost to repair a broken smartphone or tablet screen can be staggering, often exceeding $200-300 for flagship devices. In many cases, the repair bill is more than half the cost of a replacement device. Using a screen protector is an affordable form of insurance against these devastating repair costs.

Quality tempered glass screen protectors typically cost $10-50, a small fraction of the price of a new screen. Even if you replace your screen protector a few times over the life of your device, the total cost pales in comparison to a single screen repair or replacement. Think of a screen protector as a minor investment to save you major money in the long run.

Choosing the Best Screen Protector

When shopping for a screen protector for your smartphone or tablet, consider your lifestyle and priorities. If you work outdoors or in bright light, an anti-glare matte finish will improve visibility and reduce eye fatigue. For the ultimate defense against drops and scratches, look for tempered glass options 0.3mm thick or greater.

Privacy filters are a must-have for viewing sensitive information in public places like coffee shops, offices, and on public transit. If you‘re concerned about bacteria and viruses, an antimicrobial coating offers an extra layer of protection and peace of mind.

Regardless of the specific features you choose, make sure the screen protector is designed for your exact device model. A precise fit is essential for edge-to-edge protection without peeling or interfering with cases. The ESR and AmFilm brands offer high quality tempered glass screen protectors for a wide range of devices.

The Bottom Line

Your smartphone or tablet‘s screen is the most important and vulnerable component. Using a screen protector is an easy and affordable way to defend this vital element against scratches, shattering, and everyday hazards. With the added benefits of reduced glare, increased privacy, and antimicrobial protection, a screen protector is an indispensable accessory for any mobile device.

Don‘t wait until your screen is already damaged to add a layer of protection. Invest in a quality screen protector today, and enjoy greater peace of mind whenever and wherever you use your favorite devices.

[^1]: RescueTime. "Screen time stats 2022: Your smartphone is hurting your productivity." 2022.
[^2]: Apple. "iPhone Screen Repair & Replacement." 2023.
[^3]: SquareTrade. "SquareTrade Research: More than 50% of American iPhone Owners Have a Cracked Screen." 2018.
[^4]: Scientific American. "How It Works: Tempered Glass." 2007.
[^5]: Harvard Health Publishing. "Blue light has a dark side." 2020.
[^6]: Vision Times. "What Are Oleophobic Smartphone Coatings?" 2018.
[^7]: 3M. "Visual Hacking Experimental Study: Global Visual Hacking Awareness." 2016.
[^8]: TIME. "Your Cell Phone Is 10 Times Dirtier Than a Toilet Seat." 2017.
[^9]: Spigen. "Glas.tR Platinum." 2023.
[^10]: Apple Trade In. "iPhone 12 Pro Max Trade-in Estimated Value." 2023.