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Buying guide for the best apple watch screen protectors

Whether you use your Apple Watch primarily as a timepiece or to monitor your health, send messages, make phone calls, or play games, its generous touchscreen is one of the reasons this popular wearable is so easy to use. The watch’s large edge-to-edge display is a double-edged sword, however, because it’s susceptible to damage from scratches to breakage. That’s why a screen protector is such a good idea.

Apple has worked hard to make the device as robust as possible – even water resistant – so many people wear their Apple Watch in situations where they would never dream of using their smartphone, such as surfing, snowboarding, and swimming. And unlike a phone, which can ride safely in your pocket or be protected in a case, the Apple Watch on your wrist is constantly exposed to the hazards of daily life.

If you want to wear your Apple Watch for all your activities, a screen protector is an excellent way to guard your investment. Manufacturers have been making screen protectors for iPhones and iPads for years, and they now offer a plethora of high-quality options for Apple Watches. 

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Some screen protectors are designed to reduce glare, a good option if you use your watch outdoors or under bright lights.

Key considerations

There are several factors to consider when choosing the kind of screen protector you need, such as the type of watch face your Apple Watch has, your lifestyle, and the material that makes up the screen protector.

Watch face

One of the biggest factors that influences your decision about a screen protector is the specific Apple Watch you have. For example, the Apple Watch Sport uses a glass Apple calls Ion-X for the display. The stainless steel Apple Watch and the gold Apple Watch Edition use sapphire crystal for the display. The sapphire crystal is part of the reason a basic Apple Watch is more expensive than a basic Apple Watch Sport.

While it’s more expensive, however, the sapphire crystal display is harder and more scratch resistant. As a result, if you’re planning to buy the stainless steel Apple Watch with its very durable screen, you might be comfortable opting for a minimal screen protector over one that offers more protection.

Your lifestyle

The second factor to consider is where you plan to wear your Apple Watch. If you only use your device at home or in the office, a slim, minimal screen protector should suffice. If you work outdoors or plan on using it while doing a lot of activities like surfing or mountain biking, you should opt for a heavy-duty screen protector.


The third factor that should play into your decision is the material the screen protector is made from. Some are made from tempered glass, while others are made from plastic film. While tempered glass is tougher and can offer more protection, some screen protectors only cover the flat part of the watch face.

Apple Watch screen protector features

To get the most out of your Apple Watch screen protector, there are a few features you should look for, including the following:

Touchscreen accuracy: The single biggest feature that can make or break the value of your screen protector is the accuracy of the touchscreen. Cheap or poorly made materials may not properly transmit your touch input to the watch, making it difficult to control and use the device.

Nonyellowing: Another important feature to look for is a material that won’t turn yellow. This is a bigger concern with plastic film protectors than it is with tempered glass. Over time, plastic can start to yellow and take on a cloudy appearance. Look for a screen protector that advertises non-yellowing properties.

Self-healing: Some plastic film protectors are self-healing, which means the film is made of plastic that is pliable and soft enough to absorb most light scratches. Over time, light scratches will gradually disappear.

Fingerprint resistant: Some screen protectors, especially plastic ones, have garnered a reputation as fingerprint magnets. This can be especially distracting on such a small screen. Whether it’s plastic or glass, look for a screen protector that is touted as fingerprint resistant.

Wet installation: Many screen protectors come with a special liquid that you apply to the watch face before placing the protector on it. This method allows for tighter adhesion, helps eliminate air bubbles, and may increase touch responsiveness.

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Did you know?
Some manufacturers recommend installing a screen protector before going to bed, especially if the product uses a wet install method. This gives the adhesive liquid time to dry before you use the watch.

Apple Watch screen protector prices

Inexpensive: The cheapest options include basic plastic film protectors as well as tempered glass protectors that only cover the flat part of the watch. These cost $6 to $7.

Mid-range: Mid-range models feature improved plastic materials and tempered glass designed for edge-to-edge coverage. These protectors also tout features like HD clarity, fingerprint resistance, and non-yellowing. Expect to pay $8 to $10 for these screen protectors.

Expensive: The most expensive options use high-end glass or plastic and are from manufacturers that have replacement warranties and the reputation to back up their products. These cost between $11 and $18.

"Most manufacturers design screen protectors so they won’t leave a sticky residue. Look for a product that specifically mentions this if you’re concerned."


  • Clean the watch face before installing a screen protector. A thorough cleaning will help keep any dust or particles from being trapped underneath the screen protector.

  • Replace a damaged glass screen protector immediately. If you keep using it, the cracks could spread or the protector could shatter and damage your watch.

  • Know that AppleCare+ won’t cover scratches. While having AppleCare+ for your Apple Watch can be a good investment, don’t count on it to cover scratches. Scratches are considered a cosmetic issue that naturally occurs with use.

  • Know that scratches on the watch face can lower its value. Minor scratches are not likely to have any impact on your watch’s functionality, but they could reduce its value if you try to sell it.

  • Find the right size screen protector. Make sure you purchase a screen protector that’s the right size for your watch. Early models came in 38 and 42 millimeters, while later models switched to 40 and 44 millimeters. Manufacturers clearly specify what series and size watch their screen protectors are compatible with.
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A tempered glass screen protector feels more like a naked Apple Watch than a screen protector made of plastic film.


Q. Can I use a screen protector with a case?
Yes, although it might limit your choices. Plastic film protectors are often more compatible with a case since they’re thinner and conform better to the watch face.

Q. Can I rinse and reuse a screen protector?
In some cases, yes. High-end protectors are sometimes durable enough to be removed, washed, and reused. However, given how inexpensive these products are, you might be better off replacing it with a new one.

Q. Will a screen protector improve my watch’s water resistance?
No. The only way to increase the water-resistance rating of your watch is to buy a waterproof case that completely encompasses the body of the watch.

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