Glass or plastic? Fingerprint resistant or anti-glare? These are our favorite iPhone screen protectors

Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored
Thu February 14, 2019

Story highlights

  • A screen protector for your iPhone can deliver an extra layer of protection.

You want to protect all of your expensive purchases. That definitely includes your iPhone, and since Apple has opted for glass backs and fronts, a drop might result in a costly repair.

In addition to buying a case that is as protective as it is fashionable, a screen protector on the front is a good idea. This extra layer of plastic or glass on top of the display doesn't block usability. It merely adds a thin layer of the iPhone's screen to take the brunt of drops or collisions.

However, there's no guarantee that a glass or plastic film protector will stop your screen from cracking. It has a strong chance of protecting it from shattering, but there are just too many factors for an iPhone drop.

Here are key things to look for when it comes to screen protectors.

Glass vs. plastic

iPhones have a glass screen, like most smartphones, and since a screen protector is essentially a film placed on top, you'll want a comparable material. Plastic and the nature of the film can make the screen look worse, and colors might not be as vibrant. It's also a different feel when comparing it with the phone screen. On the other hand, plastic protectors can survive drops, as it is a bit more durable than glass.

Glass protectors cost more, but they also provide a better experience. For starters, it's the same type of material as the display, so you can expect it to be similar quality. It will also be a similar feel when using the iPhone. A downside would be that if you drop an iPhone with a glass screen protector, that extra layer will likely crack, which will require buying a new one.

Scratch protection yes, drop protection not guaranteed.

Either a plastic or glass protector will most certainly help with scratches. Since it's usually at least a millimeter thick, hairline scratches shouldn't touch the display of the iPhone itself. Instead, the protector will absorb it, and likely show it as a battle sign.

On the flip side, a glass screen protector is not guaranteed to save your phone from cracking. There are a plethora of factors, from height to force, and even the type of surface, that can affect the screen. At the end of the day — or rather end of the drop — a screen protector is an additional thin layer on top of your phone screen.

Here are a few of our favorite screen protection options for iPhones.

Totallee's Tempered Glass Screen Protectors for iPhone

You might have heard of Totallee, an accessory brand that specializes in cases that are as thin as they are minimalistic. Like any good case, these let the iPhone's design speak for itself. Totallee's screen protectors measure in at just two-tenths of an inch thick and are crafted from clear tempered glass.

It's rated as a 9H on the Mohs hardness scale for minerals as well, which means it should stand firm against scratches. Totallee also offers a 30-day money back guarantee and two-year warranty.

  • Totallee iPhone XR Tempered Glass Screen Protector ($7.99; amazon.com)
  • Totallee iPhone XS Tempered Glass Screen Protector ($7.99; amazon.com)
  • Totallee iPhone XS Max Tempered Glass Screen Protector ($7.99; amazon.com)
  • Totallee iPhone X Tempered Glass Screen Protector ($7.99; amazon.com)
  • Totallee iPhone 8 Tempered Glass Screen Protector ($7.99; amazon.com)
  • Totallee iPhone 8 Plus Tempered Glass Screen Protector ($7.99; amazon.com)
  • Totallee iPhone 7 Tempered Glass Screen Protector — 3 pack ($9.99; amazon.com)
  • Totallee iPhone 7 Plus Tempered Glass Screen Protector — 3 pack ($9.99; amazon.com)
  • Totallee iPhone 6 Plus/6s Plus Tempered Glass Screen Protector ($7.99; amazon.com)
  • Totallee iPhone 5 Tempered Glass Screen Protector ($7.99; amazon.com)

Otterbox Alpha Glass Screen Protectors for iPhone

It's no secret that Otterbox cases are built tough, but their screen protectors also meet high marks. The company's line of Alpha Glass screen protectors work with Otterbox cases or a naked iPhone. With a tempered glass build, it's a strong protector that also shows off the iPhone's clear screen. Otterbox also throws in a layer of fingerprint resistance for a clean screen.

  • Alpha Glass Screen Protector for iPhone X/XS ($39.95; otterbox.com)
  • Alpha Glass Screen Protector for iPhone 8/7/6s/6 ($39.95; otterbox.com)
  • Alpha Glass Screen Protector for iPhone 8 Plus/7 Plus/6s Plus/6 Plus ($39.95; otterbox.com)
  • Alpha Glass Screen Protector for iPhone 5/5s/SE ($39.95; otterbox.com)

Zagg InvisibleShield Screen Protectors for iPhone

Zagg makes a plethora of screen protectors that have added bonuses, like protecting against the blue light spectrum. Like Totallee and Otterbox, Zagg's screen protectors work with a variety of iPhones. The InvisibleShield Glass+ VisionGuard pair provides a durable layer of glass that can also filter part of the high-energy visible blue light that emanates from your phone screen.

  • Zagg InvisibleShield Glass+ Vision Guard iPhone X/XS ($38.57, originally $44.99; amazon.com)
  • Zagg InvisibleShield Glass+ Vision Guard iPhone XR ($44.99; amazon.com)
  • Zagg InvisibleShield Glass+ Vision Guard iPhone XS Max ($44.99; amazon.com)

If you'd rather focus on removing glare, the InvisibleShield Glass+ Anti-Glare might be useful. It pairs that glass protector with a matte finish to block light that may bounce off the screen.

  • Zagg InvisibleShield Glass+ Anti-Glare for iPhone X/XS ($32.57, originally $44.99; amazon.com)
  • Zagg InvisibleShield Glass+ Anti-Glare for iPhone XS Max ($39.99, originally $44.99; amazon.com)
  • Zagg InvisibleShield Glass+ Anti-Glare for iPhone XR ($32.56, originally $44.99; amazon.com)

If you want a basic screen protector that wraps around the front and the back of the device, the InvisibleShield Glass+ 360 might be your best bet. It also includes a bumper to protect the sides.

  • Zagg InvisibleShield Glass+ 360 for iPhone X/XS ($69.97; amazon.com)
  • Zagg InvisibleShield Glass+ 360 for iPhone XS Max ($69.97; amazon.com)
  • Zagg InvisibleShield Glass+ 360 for iPhone XR ($51.72, originally $69.99; amazon.com)

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer's listed price at the time of publication.