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Arlene Allen

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A glass screen protector can’t guarantee that you won’t break your iPhone’s screen, but it can prevent the screen from getting scratched, and scratches can affect glass’s structural integrity and make cracks more likely. Glass is more protective than film, and it comes closer to the look and feel of the iPhone’s own display.

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That last point is key: A screen protector may help prevent damage from a direct impact to the face of your phone (though it’s not clear how much the protector does to cushion blows, rather than just help avoid scratches), but it’s just a bit of added protection, not an impenetrable shield. And it won’t do much to guard against blows to the corner or edge of the phone’s body, which are far more common: Our friends at iFixit tallied the broken screens they had on hand and concluded that 7percent of them had been damaged at the corner or edge. This means that a good case—we have guides to the best cases for the iPhone X, and series, 6s and series, and SE/5s/5—is even more important than a screen protector: Paired with a case, an iPhone screen protector may help prevent damage to your phone.

How we picked and tested

We focused on glass screen protectors because protective films are less scratch-resistant, take away from the look and feel of the iPhone’s display, and have been largely supplanted by affordable glass protectors.

We wanted to test a few well-known brands, so we turned to Belkin, BodyGuardz, and Zagg (Zagg also owns the InvisibleShield line). These protectors are widely available, but they’re almost always expensive. We also wanted to see what you get with the best inexpensive models—if they perform as well as (or better than) the high-priced options, we knew we wouldn’t need to explore the middle ground.

For each screen-protector model we tested, we followed the instructions in the box to install it on the appropriate phone (either an iPhone or an iPhone Plus). We evaluated how clear the instructions were and how helpful any installation tools proved to be. Once the screen protector was in place, we visually inspected it to look for any obvious degradation of screen quality or brightness, and we ran our fingers along the perimeter, checking for obnoxiously sharp edges. We used the phone in a normal manner to confirm that the protector didn’t interfere with use of the touchscreen. During this use, we also observed how readily fingerprints showed on the protector, and then we wiped off the screen (using a cotton T-shirt) to see how easily we could remove those fingerprints.

We then broke out our Mohs hardness test kit. The Mohs test evaluates the hardness of a mineral based on if it can be scratched by a set of reference minerals, each rated on a scale from (talc, the softest) to (diamond, the hardest). This isn’t the test that screen-protector manufacturers use or advertise; they instead rely on something called the ASTM Film Hardness by Pencil Test, which is a test designed for coated materials. We don’t think the pencil test is the best way to evaluate screen hardness because even the hardest pencil in this test (9H) is softer than tempered glass, so any decent glass screen protector will get a 9H rating, and the pencil test thus won’t reveal differences in scratch resistance between models. More important, many of the things that might scratch a screen or a screen protector are harder than a 9H pencil; the Mohs kit includes materials that can scratch tempered glass.

In the Mohs test, we started with the number stylus, holding it at about a 70-degree angle and applying a moderate amount of force as we dragged it down the glass multiple times in varied directions. (We couldn’t guarantee precisely consistent pressure across trials, but we did our best to use a similar amount of force each time. Unless two protectors were very close in their hardness, the variance in pressure was unlikely to hide the difference, as we saw little ambiguity in the tests—when something scratched, it was very evident.) For each screen protector, we repeated this test with increasing reference picks until a pick scratched the glass. We then recorded the number of the hardest stylus that didn’t scratch the glass, along with the number of the stylus that did scratch it. Because we didn’t have styluses with hardness ratings between integers, in this guide we note for each protector the range of hardness (for example, “between and 7”) that includes the actual scratch resistance of that model.

We didn’t do any sort of drop tests with the screen protectors, because we don’t think such tests are particularly relevant. Tests in which a heavy object, such as a ball bearing, is dropped directly onto the screen don’t represent real-world scenarios—not to mention that an impact that breaks a screen protector may not have broken the phone’s unprotected screen. View. (We couldn’t easily measure the strength and hardness of that screen, and proprietary data on screen glass isn’t available.) In addition, it’s impossible to re-create every kind of impact a phone may suffer, so the results of a particular type of drop test can’t be generalized to cover all scenarios.

The best glass screen protector to shield your iPhone’s display from scratches is the TechMatte amFilm Tempered Glass Screen Protector for iPhone 8, 7, 6s, and and iPhone Plus, Plus, 6s Plus, and Plus. It’s as good as or better than the other glass covers we tested in almost every way (the exception being installation compared with a few models, which we discuss below), and it’s one of the least expensive models we tested, costing a tenth of what popular brands charge. The amFilm scored high in our scratch tests and didn’t take away from the look or feel of the iPhone.

Both versions of the amFilm protector—for standard and Plus iPhone sizes—cover the iPhone’s active display but stop short of the curved edges of the glass to reduce the risk of the protector separating from the screen. If you’ve used an edge-to-edge screen protector on a flat-face phone (such as the iPhone SE or 5s), this design is initially a bit jarring, as you’ll feel the edge of the protector when using the phone, but it’s common across every protector we tested.

The glass has precise openings near the top for the ear speaker and the ambient light sensor; that opening is larger on the Plus version to expose the front camera. The glass also has an opening for the Home button, tightly tailored for a good level of protection, but not so much so that the glass blocks Touch ID access. We appreciate that the glass’ edges aren’t squared off or sharp—something we’ve seen with some glass screen protectors, and a design that can be uncomfortable. Even around the Home button, we didn’t mind running a finger around the smooth edge.

The amFilm’s glass is as clear as it gets. We saw no issues with clarity or brightness, and we quickly got used to the protector being on the phone. And though any glass surface will accumulate fingerprints and oil from skin, we found that this one didn’t show them too readily, and we wiped them off very easily. The touchscreen’s responsiveness also wasn’t affected in any way, as it still recognized even the slightest brush of a finger (and still worked with touchscreen gloves), and we had no issues using the phone’s pressure-sensitive 3D Touch feature.

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