Screen protectors aren’t sexy or glamorous. They’re like condoms: prophylactics for your smartphone screen that are difficult to put on correctly, feel worse than going bareback, and are just disgusting totems to the shame and filth of your lifestyle when greasily wadded up and hurled into the nearest waste basket.
The only thing I hate more than screen protectors is watching the inevitable patina of nicks and scratches milkily cloud up my iPhone screen. Over the years, I’ve tried a bunch of iPhone screen protectors, from the inevitable Invisible Shield to the PureTek Roll-On. Last year, though, I finally found my favorite screen protector for the iPhone 4S: the Spigen Glas.t, a sheet of 0.4mm tempered glass that not only is easy to apply, but feels just the same as riding your iPhone bareback.
Now the iPhone 5 is here, and Spigen has released a new, longer GLAS.t to match the new iPhone’s longer dimensions. For my money, just like its predecessor, this is the only screen protector you should even bother with.
The Spigen GLAS.t has two main advantages over plastic screen protectors like the Zagg Invisibleshield: the tactile experience makes it feel the same as using the iPhone without a screen protector, and it’s much easier to apply correctly without putting it on crooked or getting dust and air bubbles trapped underneath. The main difference is that it’s much more expensive: a Zagg Invisibleshield will costs you about $7 for the iPhone 4S, while the GLAS.t costs $28 on Amazon.
Let’s get this out of the way. The GLAS.t is worth the extra price. Sure, a cheap plastic screen protector usually costs much less, but it also feels gummy and cheap under the finger and if you’re anything like me, you end up ruining one or two of them before you get one on your iPhone successfully.
The GLAS.t is different. A 0.4mm plate of tempered glass that Spigen says is three times more resilient than plastic, it isn’t stuck to the iPhone 5’s screen with gum or glue or other sticky agents, but with a small chemical coating that bonds to the screen once you apply a little bit pf pressure. Since the GLAS.t protector is rigid, it’s incredibly easy to align the screen protector over the iPhone 5 correctly; once you do, you simply firmly press the middle of the screen with your finger and the chemicals go to work, spreading through the protector to make a firm, bubble free bond.
In my experience applying a bunch of GLAS.t protectors, this chemical agent can sometimes not entirely bond around the edges, which results over time with bubbles that grow over time at the peripheries of the iPhone display. The trick, I’ve found, is that when you first apply the GLAS.t protector to your phone, you use the entire length of your finger to press down upon the whole length of the equator of your iPhone’s display. This leads to an equal distribution, which leads to longer life for your GLAS.t protector.
The sensation of using a GLAS.t is exactly the same as using your iPhone 5 without a screen protector at all, with a couple exceptions. For one, it’s slightly thicker. In practice, I’ve found this additional thickness (less than half a millimeter) to be unnoticeable, but it does lead to the second exception: the screen protector is just thick enough that you need to put a small raised sticker on top of your home button. In omphalos terms, you’re turning it from an innie to an outie; otherwise, it looks exactly the same, although doesn’t feel entirely as satisfying to click as the default home button. On the plus side, though, the raised home button stickers do come in lime green and hot pink, as well as black and white.
The only other thing to mention about the GLAS.t has to do with longevity. If you apply your GLAS.t correctly, it should last as long as other screen protectors, but because the protector is glass, you should know that when it’s damage, it tends to chip and crack (although because of the tempering process Spigen uses, these cracks and chips are never sharp). This doesn’t happen often, and when it does, it’s because the GLAS.t has protected your iPhone from some sort of grievous harm, but it’s something you should know going in.
I’m a huge fan of Spigen’s GLAS.t screen protectors, and I haven’t changed my mind with the iPhone 5. More than any other iPhone, the iPhone 5 as designed to be used without a case, and the GLAS.t screen protector allows you to do so conscientiously without worrying about the screen. It’s a more expensive option than the competition, sure, but if you’re an Apple fan, you’re already used to paying for quality. The GLAS.t is the screen protector your iPhone deserves.