Along with the rise of the touchscreen smartphone, countless third-party companies have supplied various forms of carry cases, sleeves, and protectors for the most vulnerable part of the smartphone… the screen. Although mobile manufacturers continue to invest in toughened glass, special coatings, and new materials (we’ll see sapphire screens one day, I’m sure), the trade in screen protectors is high.
It’s easy to see why. Almost every interaction on a smartphone goes through the screen. Any imperfections or damage to the screen will be seen every single day. Gorilla Glass may be strong, but it can pick up scratches and impact damage under certain circumstances. The psychological thinking is simple – it’s far easier to rip off a protector and fix on another one than it is to replace the whole phone or send it away for a lengthy or expensive repair.
Which is where Zagg comes in. Before the launch of the new iPhone 6, the company offered me a review sample of its latest product, the Invisible Shield Glass.
As the name implies, this screen protector isn’t a bendy piece of plastic, it is a very thin layer of glass. With the requisite adhesive on one side, an oil resistant coating on the other side, the Invisible Shied is as close to the material of the iPhone 6 screen as you can get. Essentially you are covering your glass screen with another layer of glass. The principle is a simple one – any dings, dents, or scratches are going to be absorbed by this easily replaceable layer, which will have been given strength against impact damage with no consideration having to be made for any sense of rigidity or preventing flex (a compromise that any smartphone screen does have to make).
This gives the Invisible Shield Glass a natural edge against the regular screen’s strength. The Shield does add to the thickness of the iPhone 6, but only by 0.4 millimeters. Certainly at the edge of the protector you can feel the ridge, but Zagg has bevelled the edges of this thin glass layer so it does not catch or have a sharp edge. Because of the curved edges that Apple has gifted the iPhone, the Invisible Shield will not reach out to the edge of your handset, rather it just covers the flat area of the glass.
Zagg call this approach ‘case friendly’ so any cases that reach around the iPhone 6 will not rub against the screen protector. It’s a worthy idea, but be aware it means there is very little spare width in the Shield if you misalign the Shield during the application process.
When the moment comes and the screen protector does become damaged during general use, Zagg offers a lifetime guarantee on the Shield. For the life of the device that the Shield is stuck to, Zagg will replace any worn or damaged screens (but they may ask you to cover the postage charge, and you do need to return the defective screen protector by return post).
If the addition of a screen protector is partly about peace of mind as well as the prevention of an expensive repair, then Zagg’s warranty is a layer of mental protection for the user. When you look at the $35 cost and wonder why it is much higher than other alternatives, part of the answer is that it is glass and the other part is the guarantee. You’re not buying one screen protector, you’re buying one with a workable warranty.
My review Invisible Shield Glass arrived in the days after the iPhone 6 was announced (although it is printed up for ‘The New iPhone 4.7″ ‘ – everyone knew the specs in advanced, but not the name Tim Cook would eventually plump for). Inside the package is the screen protector itself sandwiched between two protective layers, a micro fibre cleaning cloth, an alcohol-based wet wipe, and the fitting instructions.
I’ve been around the block with many screen protectors on many devices, and some can be a bit more miss than hit during the application process. I’m glad to say that Zagg’s process with the Invisible Shield Glass is painless and induces very little stress. The two backing sheets of plastic are clearly labelled, with tags to aid their removal. The top layer actually overhangs the sheet of glass, giving you two big tabs to hold onto to position the protector without having to touch the cleaned surface of the phone, or the adhesive layer on the underside of the Shield.
As mentioned above, the Shield is a bit narrower than I would hope, so you need to get it lined up as accurately as possible. The key here is to use the TouchID button and maintain as consistent a visual ring around it with the edge of the screen protector’s cutout as possible.
Once you are happy with the positioning, push down in the centre, and let a mix of surface tension and capillary action pull the Shield onto the screen with no extra work on your part. As always, the final step is to push the small number of air bubbles that form to the edge of the screen.
This was one of the easiest application processes for a protector I’ve ever done. No bubbles, no missed alignment, no fretting for hours to push bubbles out, it took a matter of minutes to complete the whole process.