I have always thought that glass screen protectors are useless. Firstly, they cost a fair amount, from between 30 to 50 bucks. Secondly, a normal plastic screen protector can be gotten for as low as $2.90. Assuming that the glass screen protector costs only $30, that would mean I would need to use 10 plastic protectors to even almost hit the cost of getting a glass one, and if the glass screen protector costs $50, then that’s 17 regular screen protectors. I have always said, “Why buy one glass screen protector and feel extremely sad when it gets scratched, when you can just use plastic ones and once they get scratched, buy a new one?” This has the added benefit of saving you money; if you happen to not scratch your plastic one, or even if you replace it six times ($17.40) over the course of your phone’s life in your hands, you save money. Not to mention, glass screen protectors are thicker, and add a (small) bit of bulk to your phone. In the light of all this, it’s quite clear that for a regular person, glass screen protectors don’t make sense. Or do they?
Recently, Siege sent us one of their Glastimate glass screen protectors for iPhone 5/5c/5s. I am the only one of our editors who has one of the supported phones, so I am reviewing it. First, I will be reviewing the unboxing process, then the application process, then I will be conducting scratch tests, and then I will be reviewing the performance of the screen protector. And lastly, I will give my opinion on glass screen protectors, which may or may not change depending on my review of it.
First, we have the box. It looks good, feels good in the hand, and feels very premium, but I feel it’s rather big. What’s inside is really thin and small, and there’s not much of a need for such a huge box (and sub-boxes, as you will see soon), so this suffers badly in the eco-friendly department.
To open the box, one has to tear the paper strip around it. This is slightly difficult to do, and a bit saddening because it gets ruined (and the packaging is nice), but small matter. Then, you slide out the box from the bigger box. When done with that, I see two thinner boxes, one for the actual screen protector itself, and one for the tools needed to apply it. To paraphrase the Cat in the Hat, “I call them Box 1 and Box 2”.
Okay, you’ve got to be kidding me, more boxes in boxes? And these smaller boxes inside Box 1 and 2 have the stuff inside them (finally). And let me tell you, my fingers are slender and I had trouble taking the stuff out of them. If you are bigger than I, and have bigger fingers, then you’re gonna have a bad time, though it is not impossible to take the stuff out. It’s just slightly annoying.
So, to recap, to get to the actual stuff inside, I tear the paper strip, to get to be able to slide the box out of the bigger box, and then open this box to reveal Box 1 and Box 2, and then open each box to reveal a smaller box each? I hear environmentalists crying, reusing old pitchforks and not lighting up torches. You know, because they’re environmentalists.
That’s it for unboxing, let’s get to the application process! *cue cheesy music*
The application process is supposed to be simple, and indeed, it is, even for a complete noob like me (first time installing my screen protector myself!). All you have to do is to peel the screen protector’s cover, and then place it gently on your device. Standard stuff, I guess, but what makes this better than normal film screen protectors is that it’s glass. Which means it is a single piece that does not flop around, it just stays straight — all the better to place it on your screen and ensure you centre it well. And when you place the protector on the screen, you just have to press firmly down in the centre, and it will just stick. Almost bubble free, no kidding. Pretty amazing, I must say.
The button stickers that are provided are quite nice, one silver and one black, both made of brushed metal (or textured that way). It’s optional, but because the screen protector is 2mm thick, you will likely have to use it because it’s more convenient that way. Otherwise there is quite a depression for the home button. I don’t have an iPhone 5s, so I’m not sure, what with the new home button design, whether it would be fine not to use the button sticker. I think you could get used to the extra distance your thumb has to travel to press the button though, just that it’s a downfall of the glass material and you should consider it when choosing a screen protector. This is a failing of all glass screen protectors, so it’s more of a personal choice — Siege has nothing to do with this failing; if you want a glass screen protector, this is what you will have to live with. Unless you get a glass screen protector for a phone with no buttons on its display, of course. Then there would be no problems.
The button sticker is very difficult to remove though, especially when the screen protector is on. So if you want to use it, put it on first. Installing it accurately when the screen protector is on already, is hard, because of the aforementioned depression. But it’s not a big deal even if you have made the mistake of first applying the screen protector, as you will see in my next paragraph.
Sadly, dust kept getting onto the screen when installing it, even though I had cleaned it already, or the back of the screen protector collected the dust. Not a problem with the screen protector, but with the air around me. It just gets hard to keep the screen free of dust for long. But, never fear! I am astonished to say that I removed the screen protector a total of five times (sometimes because there was dust, sometimes because I needed to remove the button sticker because I put it in the wrong way), and it still stuck to my screen like brand new. This is really cool, because I managed to make it stick completely perfectly in the end. I cannot stress how awesome this is. When you are applying a screen protector yourself, you tend to screw up if you have not done it before, or simply have little practice. This means that athough you buy your glass screen protector for a high price, you don’t have to worry about spoiling it and ruining the adhesive properties by taking it out and putting it back on. As they say, you get what you pay for.
So, to sum up, it was easy to apply the screen protector. No need for applying it corner-first, then spreading it slowly over the phone like a film. Just put it on top of the phone, and press down. The button sticker should be installed first, so you can ensure the square is in the right orientation. And the screen protector is reusable. I don’t know this for sure, but I think that one could get one of these when an iPhone X comes out, and when the iPhone Xs comes out, you could take out the screen protector and install it for your new phone. And because glass is more durable than the plastic screen protectors, if you aren’t ridiculously violent with your phone, the protector could last you two whole years. But is it really that durable? Let’s find out.
At first, I was scared to do this scratch test. This is my phone after all, and if I destroyed its screen, I’d have no replacement. So, at first, I just used a small screwdriver and hit the bottom of the screen protector. Then, I saw that there were no scratches. So I decided to just try doing a proper, full on test. I hit the screen quite hard, using a small, sharp screwdriver, then a bigger screwdriver, and then after much contemplation, I used a knife. Watch the videos down below.
Here are pictures of the screwdrivers I used, and the results after the test.
No scratches, I can assure you. Even after the knife test, it was scratch-free. Keep it with your keys or sharp objects, and the screen would be safe. But the rest of your phone would probably suffer, especially since the iPhone 5/5s, which is made of aluminium, tends to scratch and chip easily along the sides. I don’t know whether it would protect your screen from cracking when it drops though, and I am definitely not going to try it (unless someone wants to send me an iPhone 5/5c/5s to test this out!), but it would certainly do a better job than a normal screen protector.
Performance of the Screen Protector — Clarity and Feel
Firstly, I shall talk about the clarity. Siege claims that their screen protector allows for 99.9% of the light to pass through. I have no way of testing this accurately, but colours feel at least as bright as when I was using my plastic protector, and I am starting to realise 326 ppi on the iPhone is really not Retina, because I can see pixels and I can see blurred corners of the icons. Make of that what you will, but I think this is one rather clear (pardon the pun) way that the Siege Glastimate glass screen protector owns the normal plastic ones. Now, on to the feel of it.
I felt the screen before and after putting on the screen protector, and felt it when I had a regular plastic screen protector. In short: Plastic<<<<<<Unprotected glass<<<Glass screen protector. It feels smoother, and nicer, than even the actual screen of the phone. It’s extremely responsive, and I can’t tell the difference between the responsiveness of the touchscreen when there was a glass protector, and when there was none. My finger just flies across the display, and the screen protector offers little resistance when swiping, but also offers enough resistance that my finger does not slip and slide across the screen like a newbie roller-skater in a puddle of oil.
In fact, I can honestly say that even if I were so filthy rich I could buy a new iPhone if the screen gets scratched even a tiny bit, I would still get the glass screen protector just because of the absolutely amazing feeling of it. But there’s more to it than the feeling. It’s the fact that fingerprints are not so pronounced on it. It doesn’t smudge easily. I know their site says the screen is resistant to fingerprints, but it’s not completely resistant. However, it does handle fingerprints very well, much better than a naked screen does, and tons better than my old plastic protector. When I have smudges on the screen, they are really easy to clean. I just have to wipe it on my shirt twice and it’s clean again. And, I don’t have to worry about my screen being scratched by my shirt because 9H hardness rating, baby! On a side note, I wonder why the makers of the iPhone’s glass don’t coat it with this oleophobic coating that Siege uses. It works really, really well.
On the whole, I love the Siege Glastimate glass screen protector. Let’s see if this has won me over from plastic screen protectors. I love how it can be reapplied, and how easy it is to apply.
I love how I didn’t even have to worry about bubbles. Sadly, these things are not as important if you got a plastic screen protector in a brick-and-mortar store and they applied it for you, so this point is pretty much moot. There’s no real big advantage to having a glass screen protector in this area, other than the fact that you can readjust it and reuse it, yourself.
I also love how great it feels. This is uncontested. There is no equal. This beats out everything else. It beats out a naked screen and utterly destroys the plastic screen protector. Add this to the fact that it handles smudges well and smudges wipe away easily, and this is a winner.
In terms of clarity, I would think that a naked screen is the best, but your eyes can’t really tell the difference. (Unlike how you can tell the difference between the pixel dense HTC One’s display and Apple’s just barely Retina display, but that’s a story for another day.) But it does beat a plastic screen protector in terms of clarity. Or at least, it beats my cheap $2.90 protector’s clarity.
In terms of how well it protects your phone, I would think this does the job better than any other screen protector. There really is no competition, unless you’re looking at a Zaggs InvisibleShield protector, but I read that those peel off the screen after a while and don’t stick well to the screen, yet cost as much as a glass screen protector.
I hate, however, how thick it is. It’s 2mm thick. This is, objectively, rather thin, and does not affect the thickness of the phone much. However, it pretty much requires you to use a home button sticker. I’d prefer to leave my home button untouched, but it’s not as easy to press with this screen protector. Oh well, at least the button sticker looks classy, and is flat and matte, unlike those joke button stickers that are glossy and protrude out of your phone like a dome. Urgh, yuck. All in all, if I had money to splash on a glass screen protector, I would definitely get one, no question about it. But I do feel the pinch if I spent even 30 bucks on a glass screen protector, and for all its great features, I don’t know whether it justifies the price. Sure, the manufacturing and R&D costs needed to create this probably warrant the high price, but for a consumer, I don’t know whether it’s completely worth it. What I do know, however, is that I am now spoilt. Like how it would be hard to go back to using a non-Retina display, it would be hard to go back to a lousy plastic screen protector.
The big question is, should you buy it? If you are like me and are careful with your phone, then you might want to test out a friend’s glass screen protector and see whether it’s worth it to get one just for the feel and clarity it provides. If you are more rough with your phone, you might find this a good buy, especially since if you are busy, you can buy one of these, and then not have to worry about getting a new screen protector when this is scratched, because this will most likely not be scratched. If you are more well-to-do and feel that 50 bucks is a good price to pay for a really good screen protector, then this will definitely satisfy you, and there’s no question. If you are less well-to-do, then maybe using a plastic one, and being extra careful, might be more worth it.
Will I buy one of these for my next phone? I don’t think so. I know that I will probably never scratch it, and that it would last, but the protection it gives my phone is probably overkill for me, because I use a case which has a rather large lip, so the screen is protected when it falls down on its face, and I am very careful with my phone. I keep it in a pocket all on its own, and if I do put anything else in my pocket, I place it such that it does not touch the screen at all. Ultimately, for me, it only differs from a plastic protector in terms of feel and clarity, because I am satisfied with the level of protection the plastic one offers me. So no, I’m not getting a glass screen protector for my next phone, but I’m very happy for now, to be using the one I got from Siege. It’s still miles better, though its bang-to-buck ratio is not as high as a $2.90 plastic protector. With $50, I could get myself 25 more iPhone cases (I know good places to get really cheap ones) or buy myself up to 39 iPhone apps at $1.28 each, buy a Bluray movie (who am I kidding, I’d rather buy the glass screen protector than pay so much for a damn disk and HD content. Seriously, if DVDs cost $20, and Blurays cost $50, then how much would a disk cost when it has 4K content on it? I’ll tell you what it’ll cost: an arm and a leg, that’s what) or just save it for a rainy day (like when you get caught in the rain and your water indicator on your iPhone is triggered and you have to pay to get it repaired because Apple’s warranty does not cover it.).
Still, it’s so smooth, feels so good, is so clear, and protects against scratches so well… Someone call up Oxford Dictionaries, we need to revise the definition of temptation.
The selling price for the iPhone 5/5c/5s Siege Glastimate protector is $49. There is no official dealer in Singapore at the moment, as it is still just only launching in the market, but anyone interested can order directly from them. You can contact them through their Facebook account at Siege Glastimate Facebook. Or you can go to their site and contact them.
Also, after using the screen protector for several days, I can say now that if I had money to spend on a glass screen protector, I would get this. It’s actually super thin in comparison to other glass screen protectors for the iPhone 5 (0.2 mm for this vs 0.26mm for a Spigen Glas.t glass screen protector) and the Glastimate has a hardness rating of 9H compared to 8H (which is still great, but not as great as the Glastimate) on the same Spigen protector.
Not to mention, the brushed metal home button has really grown on me, and all that fuss I made about the depression due to the thickness of the screen? Growing pains.
If I didn’t have 50 bucks for a screen protector like this, I’d probably save up or sell something to get it. It’s that good. Maybe not the best bang-for-buck, but it’s pretty much among the best out there, and I guess you pay high prices for greatness.