Curves are so in right now, and I’m not just talking about reality TV stars. The new season’s phones lead by Samsung, LG, Xaomi and Huawei are sporting big, beautiful curves and customers can’t get enough.
Starting with the admittedly gimmicky Galaxy Round in 2013, Samsung led the charge re-invent the phone screen, taking advantage of the AMOLED’s ability to turn corners, a trick that a traditional LCD can’t pull off. In 2014 Samsung released the Galaxy Note Edge which was the first truly useful implementation of a curved screen design (Sorry LG Flex) and it started to look like this idea had a future. With the Galaxy S6 and S7, Samsung showed its commitment to the edge concept, offering it as an option alongside its flagship device, but when the S7 Edge outsold the traditional S7 model in 2016, Samsung was emboldened enough to make a big call. They released the Galaxy Note 7 which will be best remembered as first clear sign that all future Samsung Flagships will have edge displays (lol jks it will be best remembered as being a Bomb)
These big beautiful displays don’t come cheap though, which can really hurt when you scratch or smash them. “No problem” I hear you saying “I’ll just put a tempered glass screen protector on them”. Well that’s where we hit a bit of a snag…
While tempered glass is wonderful on a flat screen, it doesn’t do too well on a curve.
The first way of solving this was to use a lamination machine and adhere the tempered glass to the screen, this was both expensive (around $80) and the tempered glass invariably cracked at the curve. Engineers were not to be deterred and came up with another solution, leaving the curves out.
This is a reasonable solution, especially paired with a good cover, but it has some major drawbacks. Arguably the most vulnerable part of the screen goes un-protected and watching videos is annoying. It also gets in your way when you are swiping.
How about a new take on an old technology? TPU plastic screen protectors.
They actually offer “some” impact protection these days, but they’re still hard to apply without making the dreaded bubbles. They also have a nasty habit of curling up at the edges, are sticky on the fingers and are an absolute fingerprint magnet. But mostly importantly they violate one of the main philosophical tenets of my life “Life is too short for plastic screen protectors”.
Which brings us to the brave new world of “3D” tempered Glass
This showed some early promise, and to be fair some people are very happy with this product, as long as it stays on. The people who have it fall off immediately? Not so happy. The issue with 3D tempered glass is that the adhesive is only found on the outer rim (the blue section in the above picture). The problems with this are two-fold. Firstly the glass can just fall off, especially if it has a cover that doesn’t agree with it. Secondly with the tempered glass not adhering to the screen you get 2 more refractive surfaces, or for those non-physics geeks, it looks kind of milky like an otterbox with a plastic screen protector. And like the otterbox it can fill up with dust.
So now that I’ve disparaged four different types of screen protectors, where does that leave us? In my humble opinion the best solution takes a bit of lateral thinking. The best way to protect a screen without spoiling that beautiful curvy AMOLED Screen that you’ve paid so very much for is to recess it.
Isn’t she beautiful? Getting a 3 piece cover with a hard plastic frame and a rubber sleeve for shock absorbing not only protects the back and chassis of your phone extremely well, but when it comes over the screen like the cover pictured above it keeps the screen out of harm’s way for all but the roughest falls. The only consideration that you need to take into account is that if you put the phone in a bag, put in a separate pocket from your keys and coins to be on the safe side.
All of these forms of protection have their pros and cons. While I find the deeply recessed cover to be the best solution for me, hopefully I have given you enough information to choose the best solution for you.
Update: After trying the genuine Samsung Screen Protectors I have changed my tune somewhat in regards to plastic screen protectors.
The Samsung Protectors are actually quite a bit thicker that traditional plastic protectors, the adhesive is better and bubbles are less of an issue due to the very handy included squeegee. The fit is, as you would expect, perfect. It may however clash with some of the more heavy duty covers mentioned earlier. It's not for everyone, but if you simply must have a screen protector, this is the one I would recommend.