Does your new phone need a screen protector?

Oh come on, you remember screen protectors. You had one on your first smartphone. You might have paid a lot for it from a kiosk in the mall. That screen protector went on your phone, along with a super-chunky rubber case. The whole thing went into a nylon or faux-leather belt clip. Any of this ring a bell?

You may still use a lot of that same stuff. Maybe the case got a little thinner, maybe you only wear the belt clip when no one is watching. Or, maybe you’ve transitioned into keeping your phone in a pocket, purse, or inexplicably-fashionable fanny pack.

But what about that screen protector? Do you still use one?

Solid Signal doesn’t sell screen protectors.

We still have a few in inventory because they don’t take up a lot of space, but we haven’t stocked up on one for a new phone in years. Why? The demand has dropped. New phones have much better glass in them than in years past. Plus, phone case engineering has gotten better and even the slimmest cases usually offer great edge protection.

It’s not impossible to scratch or break the front glass of your phone, but it sure is harder than it used to be. Take a look at this recent drop test between an iPhone XS and Samsung Galaxy S10:

Obviously it’s possible to break both phones and the gents in this video prove it. But, they really have to drop the phones in some very specific ways and they don’t have any case or protection on them at all. Even with a superslim case with some bumpers on it, you wouldn’t see an issue with screen cracking.

Most screen protectors feel icky.

I’ve used screen protectors on devices for about 15 years. Most of them are a clear, gummy-feeling plastic which really grabs your finger as you use it. It takes away from the satisfaction of using the phone. Of late I have seen some companies selling glass screen protectors. They say the protection level is the same as the gummy plastic. I rather doubt that but it doesn’t matter. I think the real protection comes from the case and not from the screen protector anyway.

“The best” screen protectors are ridiculously expensive

Those mall companies that sell screen protectors can soak you for $40-$50 for those things. They say they have a lifetime warranty but if you need a replacement they’ll charge to reapply it. It’s happened to me. They say you never have to pay again. They say that if you get a new phone you just have to pay for the screen protector to be reapplied. Except, there’s a hitch.

In order for their “transfer” to be free, you have to show up with your old phone WITH SCREEN PROTECTOR INTACT as well as your new phone. If you trade your phone in, as many people do today, you’re out of luck.

Just get a good case and skip the screen protector

Look I’m not saying that your phone’s screen will NEVER crack. What I am saying though, is you’ll enjoy the phone a lot more without a big gummy sticker on the front. That’s got to be worth something. If you’re really worried about the replacement cost of a screen, look into AppleCare or the warranty program from your phone’s manufacturer. Or, just take a chance. With a good case, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll have to worry about it.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.