5 Reasons to Avoid a New Screen Protector for a Smartphone or Tablet Today

Hi there! If you‘re thinking about getting a screen protector for your shiny new smartphone or tablet, hold off a sec. While it may seem like an essential accessory, modern device screens have evolved to be so tough they rarely need the help. Based on the latest glass durability innovations, screen protectors can often do more harm than good nowadays.

I‘ve tested mobile tech for over a decade, and rarely use protectors personally anymore due to five convincing downsides:

  1. Built-in screens are already super scratch/shatter-resistant
  2. Protectors get smeary, yellow quickly, hurting aesthetics
  3. They reduce touch sensitivity, dragging down UX
  4. Long term they actually damage screens when peeling off
  5. Applying them smoothly is tedious even for experts

Curious to know more? Let me elaborate on each reason below, referencing scientific evidence, so you can best decide whether to protect or go naked.

Do State-of-the-Art Screens Really Need Shielding?

The first question to ask yourself before slapping a sheet of generic plastic over your phone or tablet screen is: how much reinforcement do the sophisticated, expensive glass/ceramics built into premium devices actually require?

Might they already rival or exceed the protective abilities of cheap peel-and-stick films? Answer = very likely, yes.

Many recent high-end mobiles utilize Corning‘s Gorilla Glass Victus, specially formulated to survive drops from over 6 feet onto rough, jagged surfaces based on their ISO-standardized testing. By comparison, a $10 screen protector starts fracturing when your phone slips off a 3-foot table. And sand or keys that visibly scratch budget protectors barely mark Victus at similar pressure.

Apple‘s custom Ceramic Shield glass reinforces iPhone screens using nano-ceramic crystals comprising >20% of its material composite, significantly amping durability. Apple claims a 4x drop resistance boost over past iPhones, which were already fairly shatter-resistant with aluminosilicate. Most protectors don‘t incorporate ceramic, and scratch at lower mineral hardness levels.

So if leading bare screens now resist scratches better than plastic add-ons, what benefit does a protector really offer besides placebo security? Perhaps less than vendors admit.

Do You Want Your Phone to Look Like a Thrift Shop Window?

Beyond superfluous protection, another reason to veto screen guards is keeping your phone or tablet looking shiny and slick rather than junky.

Ever notice how low-quality plastic or glass surfaces seem to grab and retain every stray fingerprint and smudge in sight, no matter how often you wipe them down? That‘s because they lack an advanced oleophobic coating that prevents skin oils from adhering to pristine device screens and cameras.

Oleophobic coatings give screens an almost self-cleaning effect. But common polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) screen protectors have no such fingerprint-fighting tech. So while blocking a few scrapes, what you trade away is the persistent aesthetic grime and visual haze created by their sticky surface trapping oils and dust. Yuck!

Over months and years, this leads to an irreparable level of grunge that makes your once-sparkling screen appear constantly fogged no matter how hard you scrub. Harsh but true.

Do You Want to Poke a Marshmallow or Stroke Glass?

Beyond looking gross, another reason resist adding screen protection is the boggy, disconnected touch experience created versus seamless bare screens designed for liquid glide gestures.

Modern phone/tablet touch sensors are calibrated for point-perfect response with slightest finger contact. But plastic/film barriers dampen capacitance sensitivity, dragging down the delightful feeling of fingertip control that defines quality glass touchscreens.

Every micro-gesture now feels like you‘re operating the device through a raincoat versus crisp surgical control. Swiping, pointing, drawing and typing all turn sluggish – akin to poking a marshmallow rather than stroking glass. Yuck again!

For artists or note-takers who rely on advanced Apple Pencil/S-Pen support, aftermarket shields also reduce pen tracking precision. Most true pros refuse screen protection to maintain the carefully engineered control experience device makers intended (versus fighting through a distorting film).

More Harm Than Good Over Time?

Surprisingly, while seeking to preserve our precious screens, ill-fitting screen protectors often damage devices more severely long term once removed.

How? When films begin peeling at the edges they create a gunk-catching pocket allowing entry of abrasive debris against the screen. Attempting removal after 6+ months adhesion pulls up glass coating particles. This reduces oleophobic effectiveness, hampering image clarity and fingerprint resistance going forward.

Many users report superior naked screen condition versus leaving protectors on indefinitely. So the protectors end up damaging what they‘re meant to shield through heavy usage cycles.

And lower-quality films scratch or yellow fast from everyday scuffs, replacement frequency causing its own compounding screen wear. Between removal pull and scratched particle sandblasting, not protecting may prove gentler over a phone/tablet‘s lifetime.


Seriously, applying screen protectors smoothly is supremely tedious even for repair pros – expect amateur frustration.

Directions warn that microscopic dust or bubbles ruin clarity and touch response, demanding near laboratory-level 16-step preparation:

  • Thorough device screen cleansing
  • High-filtration clean room environment
  • Dust-sealed application tray
  • Mist adhesive backing before placement
  • Ultra slow firm center-outward smoothing
  • DON‘T reposition once placed!

But unless you‘re basically MacGuyver, thoroughly bubble/particle-proofing a protector install is nearly impossible. Failure risks keep piling up. And after 1-3 frustrated practice runs, trashing multiple bad applications can negate any value versus living with minor cosmetic screen wear through bare careful usage.

For many owners, the stress just isn‘t worthwhile.


  • Rugged Cases – Reinforced covers better shield vulnerable screen edges from corner drops versus stick-on films. Models like OtterBox also integrate protector shields simplifying application.

  • Skins – Slick vinyl or carbon fiber full-body skins by dbrand, Slick Wraps, EasySkinz etc. furnish scratch protection without visibility/sensitivity impairment. Custom-cut access openings maintain port functionality.

  • PopSockets – Expanding phone grips enhance single-handed stability, helping avoid device slips and drops entirely versus just cushioning impact. Functional and fashionable while barely affecting device form.

Hopefully these convincing reasons give pause before further accessorizing your phone or tablet to death with largely redundant screen guards. As with most things, simpler is often wiser when it comes to mobile gear. Plus it keeps more cash in your wallet!

I‘d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on whether to protect or go naked. Let me know one way or the other in the comments!

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