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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

43 Models Considered
7 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
512 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best smartphone screen protectors

Last Updated November 2019

Although people rarely think about it, walking around with a smartphone in your pocket is akin to walking around with a $1,000 computer on your person. Which is why you should do your best to protect it with a smartphone screen protector. Screen protectors cover the face of your phone and protect it from dust, dirt, and damage. Because most smartphone screens are made of glass, it’s important to protect yours from shattering when you accidentally drop it. Smartphone screens are also easily scratched — and little scratches can lead to bigger cracks later on.

The best thing you can do is find a high-quality screen protector to keep your investment safe. Screen protectors come in a variety of materials, such as Plexiglas, tempered glass, and nonrigid plastic. Some feature a privacy screen, so no one else can see what you’re typing. And many come with a complimentary microfiber cloth to clean your screen before and after installation.

To learn more about how to choose the best smartphone screen protector for your needs, keep reading our buying guide for useful information and tips. If you’re ready to buy, check out our top recommendations.

Look in your phone’s information settings to verify exactly what model you have. The phone’s memory will always be more accurate than your memory.

Key considerations

Screen protectors are one of the most common accessories you can purchase for your phone. In order to make the best choice, however, you’ll need to know a few things before getting started. First, you will need to know your exact phone model and screen size, because, without this information, you can’t purchase the right protector. Also, you’ll need to give consideration to the following important factors in choosing your screen protector.

Materials

There are three primary materials for modern screen protectors.

  • Plexiglas: This is a semi-rigid clear plastic that offers a basic level of defense against scratches and cracks.
  • Tempered glass: This is made of a material that looks similar to the basic Plexiglas protectors, but it is thicker and more rigid. This is the highest level of protection you can get for your smartphone. However, because it is so thick, it’s also more conspicuous.
  • Nonrigid plastic: This kind only offers protection from dirt and dust, but it doesn’t really help much when your phone is dropped.
     

Recently, there has also been the addition of “nano-liquid” screen protectors. This is a liquid that you apply to your screen and allow it to harden into a protective coating. This type of protection still isn’t very popular, and it’s difficult to remove once it’s on, but it is worth mentioning as an alternative.

Ease of installation and removal

Every smartphone screen protector has its own specific installation and removal process. Some require you to actually use a small water bottle to spray a layer of water onto your screen before applying. Others, however, offer a simple peel-and-stick process.

Think about how much time you are prepared to spend applying your protector. If you don’t think you have the patience or the will, then opt for a protector with a simple installation. Additionally, you may want to look into the removal process for each protector. Some just come right off, while others require cleaning of adhesive material from the screen after the fact.

EXPERT TIP

During installation, pressing a credit card across the protector’s surface is a useful way to clear the protector of any remnants of trapped air underneath.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Privacy screen

Some smartphone screen protectors offer a privacy option. These screen protectors have a dark tint to them and make the screen virtually impossible to see when not looking at the screen straight-on. These privacy screens work similarly to large privacy screens that go on monitors in a workplace. If you want to have the freedom to do confidential business on your smartphone without worrying if others can see what you’re doing, then get a protector that has a privacy screen feature.

Full-screen coverage

Some smartphone screen protectors now offer protectors that can cover the entire screen. These are convenient because they lessen the amount of dust and dirt that can collect along the base of the protector. They also offer more complete protection from cracks and scratches than protectors that don’t cover the entire screen. This is especially useful if you plan to sell your smartphone later on.

Microfiber cloth

This is a handy extra that comes with a fair amount of the screen protectors you can buy today. The instructions usually recommend using the microfiber cloth to clean your screen before installing your protector. After you have installed your screen protector, these cloths can also be used to clean your screen protector and pick up all of the extraneous dust and dirt that collects on the average smartphone screen, so you get a crystal clear view every time.

EXPERT TIP

If you have a phone case on your smartphone, make sure that it will not interfere with the placement of your screen protector.


Staff  | BestReviews

Smartphone screen protector prices

Inexpensive: Between $5 and $15 you’ll find the basic line of screen protectors. Most of these will not be made of the more durable tempered glass, but they will offer a reasonable amount of protection against dust and dirt.

Mid-range: In the $15 to $30 category, most smartphone screen protectors will be thicker and provide a higher level of protection from scratches and cracks.

Expensive: The screen protectors between $30 and $50 will be mostly made of tempered glass, which offers the highest level of protection for your screen on the market.

EXPERT TIP

You may need to increase your phone’s brightness after adding a screen protector, whether it is a privacy screen or not.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Clean your screen thoroughly before installing a screen protector. Failing to do so can cause air bubbles and blemishes underneath the screen protector.
  • Even if you have a screen protector, you need to make sure you clean it regularly, because the screen protector can quickly get just as dirty as your screen.
  • When installing your smartphone screen protector, be very cautious when lining it up. Some protectors only give you one solid chance to place them on the screen before they adhere.
  • Before installing your screen protector, make sure you have the right model by holding it over the face of your phone to see if the speaker hole and camera lens hole line up with your phone.
  • Even a soft plastic screen protector provides a limited level of protection. When it comes to keeping your smartphone screen safe, something is always better than nothing.

Other products we considered

With all of the smartphone screen protectors currently available to consumers, it’s difficult to narrow down the right ones. As such, we’ve included a few extra options below in addition to our top picks.

In the inexpensive range, take a look at Kanex’s Screen Protector. This model, which is made of strong, scratch-resistant tempered glass, offers complete edge-to-edge protection.

A worthwhile mid-range option is the IPhone XR Waterproof Case. This is a full phone case with a built-in screen protector that you can submerge underwater without fear of ruining your phone.

If you plan to buy an expensive screen protector, it’s hard to go wrong with the IPhone XR Anti-Blue Light Tempered Glass Screen Protector. This durable protector is one of the best anti-glare options on the market.

If your screen protector gets even a small crack, you should remove it and install another to avoid cuts to your finger.

FAQ

Q. Isn’t my smartphone screen strong enough on its own without a screen protector?
A.
Probably not. Most smartphone screens, although well-made, are not able to sustain a face-first fall without cracking or breaking. A screen protector helps to avoid this problem. And let’s face it, no matter how careful you think you are, you will drop your phone from time to time.

Q. Do I need to have my smartphone screen protector installed by a professional?
A.
No, you don’t. Every smartphone screen protector comes with easy-to-follow instructions that will allow you to install it on your own.

Q. Will an adhesive screen protector damage my screen when I remove it?
A.
No, it should not. Smartphone screen protectors are designed to be temporary accessories for your phone. When you are done using them, you should be able to remove and dispose of them with no damage.

Q. Will a smartphone screen protector guarantee that my screen won’t crack?
A.
No. Although using a screen protector will give you a higher level of durability for your screen, there is always a danger that you will drop your phone in a way that will damage the screen.

The team that worked on this review
  • Adam
    Adam
    Writer
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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