Screen Protectors: Glass vs. Plastic

by Sandra Henshaw - , Last Updated on January 21, 2016, Buying Guides

A new smart phone is a big investment, and an investment that you'll want to protect as much as possible. After all, no one wants to throw down £500 or more only to end up with an unusable device. One of the most common protective measures taken for smart phones is a screen protector, but as of recently, you have a choice. There are now two different styles of screen protection available, one glass and one plastic. So which is going to be your best bet? We're taking a look at the ins and outs of both so you can make a good decision!

Do I Need a Screen Protector at All?

Your first question in all this might be whether you actually need that screen protection at all. And the answer to that is almost certainly yes. A touch screen is by far the most sensitive and fragile component on a smart phone, and not protecting it at all would be foolish. A screen protector will stop that screen getting scratched (which can make a display unusable). Not only that, but in the event of a fall or drop, a screen protector can stop your display from shattering. The screen may crack anyway, and need to be replaced, but you're much less likely to get serious damage to your phone with a protector.

That being said, what about your two options? There are some pretty big differences between a glass and plastic screen protector…


Probably the most noticeable difference here is price. A glass protector is likely to cost two to three times as much as a plastic one, and that's not taking into consideration the fact that plastic protectors are generally three or five to a package, whilst you'll only get one glass protector in a pack. However, that extra cash may well be worth paying when you see some of the other benefits of a glass screen protector…

Durability and Protection

You're buying a screen protector to protect your phone, therefore it only makes sense that you want the best protection for your cash. And here, the glass protectors are going to win out. Plastic protectors are generally around 0.1 mm thick, whilst glass ones are between 0.3 and 0.5 mm thick. Obviously, that means glass will protect your screen better. Plus, glass is less easily scratched than softer plastic, meaning that a glass protector will last you a longer time and need to be replaced less often than a plastic one. So you can see why spending the extra will be worth it in the long run, since you'll be needing less protectors in total. And speaking of replacement, let's look at installation…

Ease of Installation

Most of us already know that installing a plastic screen protector is a bit of a pain. Clean the phone, try to manoeuvre the protector into place, squash out all those air bubbles… and probably need to start over at least once. One big benefit of a glass protector is that because it's rigid rather than flexible, it's much easier to position and place, and there's far fewer air bubbles (in our experience we had none at all). Clean the screen, place the glass, and you're pretty much done. Less time, less hassle. Nice.

What About Use and Feel?

You might be worried about the extra thickness of a glass protector affecting your user experience, but the opposite is actually true. The glass display of your phone is pretty smooth, put some plastic over there and suddenly you'll find that you need to press harder, and that sliding your finger across the display is more difficult. A glass protector, on the other hand, feels identical to the actual screen of your phone, meaning you get a more “original” user experience.

In addition to this. Many glass screen protectors also have the same oleophobic coating that actual phone screens get, to prevent a build up of grease from your fingers. We'll be honest, the edge of a glass protector is more noticeable and easier to feel than the edge of a plastic one, simply because it's thicker, but in terms of use, the glass protector definitely wins out here.

What to Look Out For

Hopefully, you're now convinced that a glass screen protector is really the way to go. If you value your investment then a glass protector is going to give you more protection, it's that simple. Plus, it's easier to install and longer lasting as well, despite costing more initially. So, if you're in the market for one of these new glass screen protectors, then what should you be looking for?

There are really three issues here. Firstly, do make sure that the protector is “tempered glass” and not just glass, since tempered glass is shatter proof (you don't want to drop your phone and have both your screen protector AND your display shatter). Second, keep an eye out for that oleophobic coating, not all glass protectors have it, but it does make a difference, especially if you're not always on top of cleaning your phone screen.

Thirdly, and lastly, do watch out for size. Unlike plastic screen protectors, glass ones can't be trimmed to fit a smaller display or a different model of phone. That means that you need to be absolutely certain that the protector is designed for your particular hand set.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line here is an easy one. Glass screen protectors are simply better than the older plastic versions. So if you've got yourself a new phone, or even if you're looking to jazz up an older model, then glass is really the way to go!