The Glas.TR Is The Toughest Glass Screen Protector Yet [Review]



I have a love-hate relationship with Spigen’s line-up of Glas.T screen protectors.

Glas.TR by Spigen
Category: Screen Protectors
Works With: iPhone 5
Price: $34.99

On the one hand, they just feel great. If there’s any truth to the notion that screen protectors are to smartphones what prophylactics are to sex, the Glas.t feels like wearing nothing at all. The extra millimeters of glass help protect your screen from scratches, but still feel like you and your iPhone are going bareback.

The problem? Glas.t screen protectors are made of glass, and so they crack, they chip, and they break. The glass is tempered (hence the ‘t’) so they never downright shatter, but they do tend to break in other ways fairly easily. If you’re invested in keeping your screen protector pristine as well as your iPhone display, replacing Glas.t’s can become expensive quick.

Now, here comes the Glas.TR, Spigen’s new and improved glass screen protector for the iPhone 5. The ‘R’ at the end stands for “Rounded,” and it stands for rounded corners, which Spigen says makes the new Glas protector much more resilient than they were before. But what’s the truth?

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The Good

One of the things you see many film-based screen protectors boasting is “self-healing abilities.” There’s a reason for this.

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 2.47.29 PM
Like an extra layer of Gorilla Glass on your phone.

One of the big reasons people want to keep their iPhone screens from being scratched is because, naturally, they’d find a big scratch or gouge on a screen they use for hours every day pretty annoying. But if a screen protector absorbs that scratch or gouge instead, well, what’s the point? That scratch is still in a position to annoy you.

That’s why film-based screen protectors like Zagg’s InvisibleSHIELD are so popular. They are cheap to replace, and even if you gouge them, the scratches tend to “pop” back into place. So far so good, but they are a pain in the butt to apply correctly, and they feel plasticky-under your finger. There’s a tactile purity to gliding a finger across an iPhone’s Gorilla Glass display that film-based screen protectors sully.

Using a Glas.TR screen protector, you don’t sacrifice any of the tactile purity of using your iPhone as it was meant to be used, and Glas.TR screen protectors are exceptionally easy to put on. Since they are rigid, they don’t flap around when you try to apply them, and they use a silicon adhesive to stick to your iPhone’s screen which makes installing them as simple as just laying one down and pressing your finger in the middle. The Glas.TR is just as good as its predecessor when it comes to feel and installation.

A Glas.TR screen protector doesn’t sacrifice any of the tactical purity of using your iPhone as it was meant to be used.

The real thing that has changed for the better with Glas.TR is the added protection from cracking and nicking. I’ve lost count of the number of Glas.T screen protectors I’ve had to replace because I dropped them or threw them into a pocket, only to find a big chip in the screen protector later. It wouldn’t be a big deal, except that imperfections and breakages in glass tend to grow and spread rapidly over time: a tiny nick in the upper left corner of a Glas.T screen protector might be a major crack across the entire face of the device just a couple weeks later.

The good news is that the Glas.TR seems to handle being dropped and nicked better than its predecessors. I’ve been using the Glas.TR for a couple months now, and even after a number of drops, the screen protector is still in almost perfect shape. Spigen chalks this all up to the shock-resistant qualities of the rounded corners, which helps absorb shocks better, and I believe them. It was certainly true in my experience.

The Bad

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 2.47.13 PM
While other protectors are self-healing, Glas.TR protectors break.

The truth is, though, that just like the Spigen’s predecessors, the Glas.TR comes with some drawbacks.

First of all, although the Glas.TR handles drops and shocks better than the Glas.T, nothing has changed here: if you do manage to chip your Glas.TR, it’s going to get worse over time. There are no self-healing abilities here, because it’s glass, so once a Glas.TR is seriously scratched or chipped, the fastidious will want to replace the protector.

That wouldn’t be so bad if the Glas.TR was cheap, but it’s not. A single Glas.TR protector costs $35. Considering a self-healing film will cost you about $12 and be a lot more impervious to nicks and scratches in many ways, that expense is going to add up.

Lesser issues about the Glas.TR (and Glas.T) series involve the thickness of the protector. Glass can only be so thin, and the Glas.TR is more than twice the thickness of a film-based protector like the InvisibleShield, coming in at 0.5mm. That’s not an issue in getting most cases on, but it does play havoc with accessories like the Olloclip.

If you do manage to chip your Glas.TR, it’s still going to get worse over time.

The Takeaway

Everything you get in the Glas.TR kit

The truth is, Spigen’s screen protectors are in a class of their own when it comes to feel and ease-of-installation. But they are much more expensive than the competition, much thicker and once they get chipped or nicked, Glas.T brand protectors don’t have any self-healing abilities to prevent those blemishes from getting worse over time.

The Glas.TR doesn’t solve any of those problems. All the Glas.TR does is make it harder to actually nick or scratch one in the first place. It works, but chances are, you’re still going to be replacing your Glas.TR screen protector more than you would a film-based one.

Whether the Glas.TR is for you depends upon how careful you are with your iPhone, and what’s most important to you: tactile feel, or imperviousness.

If you are careful enough with your iPhone already that a screen protector is just a formality, the Glas.TR will be great for you. Likewise, if you need a screen protector but can’t bear giving up the natural feel of your finger against glass, the Glas.TR is what you want. But keep in mind that glass is fragile, and more expensive than plastic. The same problems and advantages that apply to the iPhone’s glass screen apply to the Glas.TR screen protector, for good and for ill.

spigenglastrProduct Name: Glas.TR

The Good: The Glas.TR is less susceptible to chips and nicks than its predecessors, installs easily, and feels great.

The Bad: More expensive than other screen protectors, thicker than other screen protectors, and more likely to break.

Verdict: The Glas.TR screen protector is easily the best feeling screen protector out there, and tougher than its predecessor, but if your iPhone is prone to taking tumbles, that might not be enough.

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