Android iPhone and iPad

The Ultimate Guide: How To Protect Your Smartphone From Scratches

Matt Smith 03-01-2013

smartphone scratchesModern smartphones and tablets have big, beautiful displays. They look great when they come out of the box but they leave a device more vulnerable to both major and minor damage. A drop can shatter the display, though that’s rare. Small scratches are a more common problem.


So how do you protect your device from scratches? And do those dang screen protectors really work? Read on to find the answers to these questions and more.

Screen Protectors – Yes, They Work

smartphone scratches

A screen protector is one of the first accessories a smartphone carrier will try to bundle with a new device. You can buy three protectors for the low, low price of $15! Some people will do it without batting an eye but skeptical buyers are bound to recoil in horror. Fifteen bucks for some thin pieces of plastic? That’s a joke, right?

While the price may be wrong, the concept is right. Smartphones are meant to resist most scratches and do hold up well in most conditions. They’re only scratch-resistant, however. That’s different from scratch-proof. Many objects, including small particles of sand or gravel, can harm the screen.

A protector adds a layer of protection that can absorb what might otherwise hurt your display. Most are easy to scratch, but that’s okay because they’re cheap and easy to replace. Swapping in a new display, on the other hand, is a costly repair.


And you don’t have to spend a fortune. High-quality protectors from companies like Zagg, Tech Armor and Aduro can be had for $5 or less on Amazon. You’ll almost never find deals like this in retailers because they sell the covers alongside phones and hope buyers will grab some over-priced accessories while they’re drunk off the excitement of a new device.

Liquid Armor

One of the most unique methods of screen protection is Liquid Armor. This product, which is sold by a company called Dynaflo, promises to protect your screen without the bubbles or creases that can sometimes plague vinyl protectors. It forms a “nano-shield” which is a fancy way of saying “some gunk that absorbs scratches”.

Does it work? Well, just watch the video above for a demonstration. It seems to protect against damage well, though a conventional screen protector would probably perform as admirably. It’s usually sold for at least $15, however, which is a lot more than a standard protector. It’s probably not worth the cost unless a thin coat of vinyl over your display totally ruins your day.

Making Your Own Screen Protector For Less

protect screen from scratches


If you’d like to save a few bucks you can make your own screen protector. The steps are simple. Just go to your local fabric store, buy the thinnest piece of vinyl you can find and then cut it with a razor blade to fit your screen.

The vinyl usually will cling to the device without the need for additional adhesives, which should be avoided if possible. If you have a case for your phone you can also try securing the vinyl by tucking it into the case. This, however, requires that you be very precise with your measurements.

Protecting Other Surfaces

smartphone scratches

Many devices now have beautiful exteriors that are also susceptible to scratching. The iPhone is the most common example but Android devices can have the same problem.


Let’s start with the obvious – a case. If you want to protect against scratches and don’t care about anything else you should buy a decent case. It will always be the best protection. But maybe you don’t want a case. That makes sense. Smartphones are expensive and attractive, so why hide them?

There are some options. Many companies that make screen protectors also sell vinyl protection for the exterior of a phone. Examples include the Zagg Invisible Shield, Skinomi Tech Skin and Shield Skin [No Longer Available]. You can easily find these for the iPhone, but they’re hard or impossible to find for many other devices.

An invisible case is another possibility. The case isn’t really invisible, of course, but it’s transparent and designed to obscure the phone’s features as little as possible. There’s not much to these cases, which means they’re cheap and don’t provide much protection against drops, but they’re a boon if scratches are your main concern.


My advice is simple. Buy (or make) a screen protector. Buy a case. Keep them on all the time and replace them when they begin to show signs of wear like holes, cracks or deep scratches.


That is all you need to do. You might still be in trouble if your phone is attacked by ninjas – but the phone should easily survive everything else with few or no permanent scratches.

Image Credits: Lukas Mathis, Yi Shiang

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  1. Akshay Bhartiya
    June 3, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Yes the easiest way is to buy a screen guard and a scratch guard but if you have a scratch then here's a way to remove it. Visit this site go to point no1 and 2. I tried it and it helped me partially . you can have a look.hope it helped.

  2. Jamie Watson
    January 8, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    I agree you need a screen protector but my problem is that I can never get them on without having bubbles. I use the card to smooth them out but I can't ever get all of them out. Any suggestions?

  3. OverFluo
    January 8, 2013 at 3:26 pm


    otter box

  4. Oron
    January 5, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    And of course, for ultimate protection for your phone, you could always get a Pelican case (!

  5. Igor Rizvi?
    January 5, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Gorilla glass anyone? :)

  6. Lawrie Cherniack
    January 4, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    I have been impressed by bestskinsever, who produce excellent body and screen skins at very reasonable prices for virtually any kind of smartphone or tablet.

  7. Ned
    January 4, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    That Liquid Armor video was the best pitch that I have seen in a long time. Got a laugh. The product inspires many Ideas. I plan to test it on my phone but possibly it also works on acrylic surfaces such as my cheap Chinese computer reading glasses (or maybe bonds permanently to the plastic making it impossible to remove- will see). Also the glass crystal of my wristwatch warrents a test. Next watch anyhow the one that I own is a lost cause.

    Oh, about getting attacked by ninjas- If I can get a couple of swings in with my HTC Desire S I might be able to take 'em out. The way that thing is built sometimes I think that it is a sap disguised as a phone...

    Thanks Matt

  8. Dick Moser
    January 4, 2013 at 1:17 am

    One word: ZAGG. Would never be without it.

  9. Marika Zemke
    January 3, 2013 at 4:50 pm

    Thanks for reinforcing the need for a smart phone screen protector. Salesman talked me into buying it.