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Phone screen protectors: plastic, glass, liquid—which is best?

Person using screen protector for phone

We all drop our phones. These whoops moments happen in the kitchen, in the bathroom, or even out on the street, when we're walking over a sewer grate. When accidents happen, there's no surefire way to prevent scratches or shattered glass. Screen protectors can help, but how do you know which one is right for you?

That's where we come in. At Asurion, we help millions of people with all of their tech care needs, from fixing a cracked phone screen to teaching you how to protect your Apple Watch®. Here's everything you need to know about smartphone screen protectors.

Do you need a screen protector for your phone?

Not necessarily, but our experts think they're worth it. Accidental scratches happen, and over time, they can grow and lead to cracks that can cut you or make your device hard, if not impossible, to use.

A screen protector isn't invincible. Damage to your phone depends on what happens to it—the height it falls from, the material it lands on, the item that scratches it, even humidity. But whether it's made of tempered glass or high-grade plastic, a screen protector can prevent scuffs, scratches, and cracks. Add a strong phone case—and device protection—and you'll have peace of mind when accidents happen.

What are the different types of smartphone screen protectors?

Ceramic, plastic, liquid, and tempered glass—with so many types of screen protectors out there, it can be hard to know what to get. We'll walk you through the options.

Tempered glass

Tempered-glass screen protectors do better against drops and scratches than plastic. Plus some brands offer added features, including antiglare and privacy technology. The main downside? The protector is thicker, so you'll notice it on your screen.

Thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU)

This material will protect your screen from superficial scratches, in part because it absorbs lighter bumps and scratches. Let's say you gently scrape your keys against the screen. A TPU screen protector may initially show a tiny dent, but over time, that mark will disappear. This protector can also cover your screen from edge to edge, but it may add an off-color hue, and it isn't super smooth to the touch.

Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)

Screen protectors made of PET plastic are light, thin, and have a smooth feel, which means you'll hardly notice one on your phone, but they don't provide great protection. Also, if your phone has a curved screen, they won't cover edge to edge. PET protectors are inexpensive, but you get what you pay for.

Nano liquid

These screen protectors claim to fend off scratches and marks with a simple liquid coating. Typically made from silicon dioxide, they create a protective and antibacterial barrier over your screen without adding an extra layer. While they'll work on any device (saving you the time of choosing one based on your phone's measurements), the technology doesn't offer a huge amount of protection. And once you've applied it to your screen, you have to wait for it to wear off—you can't simply remove it as you can with the other screen protectors.

What is the best screen protector?

That depends on your budget, your device, your risk tolerance, and your aesthetic expectations.

For most people, a tempered-glass protector will be the best choice, because it offers the highest level of damage prevention and has a smooth touch. It's more expensive than the other options, and you'll probably notice a slightly altered look to your phone screen, but if damage control is your goal, get a tempered glass protector.

If appearances matter most or if you're in the market for a basic, cheap option for an old phone, the plastic screen protectors (PET and TPU) are sleeker options, though again, they're less scratch resistant.

The best protection for your phone

Drops, spills, and breaks happen to all of us. That's why Asurion offers our more than 300 million customers protection from the unexpected for their most important devices—and smartphones are no exception. Learn more about Asurion phone insurance plans today.

*The Asurion® trademarks and logos are the property of Asurion, LLC. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Asurion is not affiliated with, sponsored by, or endorsed by any of the respective owners of the other trademarks appearing herein.*

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