gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Proporta Glass Screen Protector Reviewed

With a new toy comes the inevitable paranoia of a scratch or crack sullying its shiny clean lines, the fix for the most part is a case. But what of the screen? A screen protector of course.

Let me start with a story from waaay back when I had, I think, an iPhone 4. I am not in the habit of dropping or mishandling my phones and had a track record of zero smashed or damaged screens ever. But somehow, I don’t even remember why, I dropped my phone in a Dinosaur Park. Right onto loose stones. And when I tried to catch it, I did a bit of a hadouken and only accelerated it more forcefully into the ground. As luck would have it, however, I just happened to be testing a glass screen protector at the time. The screen protector was absolutely obliterated, but my phone was almost completely unscathed. After peeling off the shattered mess of glass I was left with a pristine phone screen, and a slightly scuffed metal bezel.

Just peeled the shattered Ultra Glass off and my iPhone is unscathed. The mighty glass screen protector has done its job! @mobilefun

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) April 2, 2012

“But aren’t glass screen protectors supposed to resist impact from drops, hammers, bullets?” I hear you ask. Actually, no. Glass screen protectors are sacrificial, and all of the marketing showing them surviving hammer hits is patently absurd. If the force of that hammer isn’t being dissipated by the screen protector shattering, then where’s it going I wonder? Into your expensive new toy, I’d bet.

So, naturally, my first choice for a screen protector on my new phone is glass. Unfortunately I’m something of a cheapskate, so instead of taking the – admittedly really good deal – £25 Belkin screen protector at Apple I decided to drop a line to my old (I’ve been testing their stuff for the best part of a decade) friends at Proporta and ask if I could try out their “Shield” glass screen protector.

At a whopping £8.95 you might be forgiven for thinking that the Shield screen protector is some fresh-out-of-a-factory-in-China garbage. You wouldn’t be totally wrong. The packaging betrays its humble origins, fraught with spelling errors and the usual outright nonsense you find on products that haven’t been carefully curated and crafted by a western marketing department. But inside the packaging is a perfectly good glass screen protector, and a very generous array of accessories to help you install it in your no-doubt frustratingly dusty home or office.

In the box comes the screen protector, a plastic card for pushing it down and massaging out air bubbles, a handy little adhesive shim for surgical dust extraction, an alcohol wipe to clean the screen before application, and a microfiber cloth to clean it… even more? I found this array of tools absolutely indispensable for applying the protector flawlessly, save for the plastic card which was hopelessly flimsy. During application I instead used my thumbnail to massage out the final bubbles, which were surprisingly troublesome to shift but once adhesion is achieved it- so far at least- stays put.

It's like a magic mirror hahaha!

— Phil Howard (@Gadgetoid) March 23, 2018

Application was surprisingly painless considering the complete mess I’d made of a temporary plastic screen protector I was using before. The great thing about the glass, and the glueless adhesion techniques that are used these days, is that it can be carefully lifted up and re-applied to fix rogue dust particles and alignment issues. I only had to lift a couple of times for each of these problems. First to re-align the protector with my screen, since I’d got it slightly (very slightly, but noticeably!) wonky. And then again to stick the sticky plastic shim under the screen and fish out a tiny rogue piece of lint that I discovered was under the protector when I went to clean it. After these corrections, it went on flawlessly and I couldn’t be happier.

The protector itself staunchly refuses to follow the outline of the iPhone X “horns” (the two little protrusions of screen either side of the silly “notch”). This is almost certainly because manufacturers have trouble following the artfully crafted curves of Apple’s screen. By forgoing the horns altogether the screen protector has two benefits; 1. it doesn’t have to follow those tricky curves, 2. it actually protects the whole frikkin’ screen.

I can confirm that the Belkin Screen Protector not only has horns, but it also follows the lines of the iPhone X screen to absolute perfection. It’s possible Apple and Belkin worked closely to ensure this is the case, since this screen protector is basically Apple’s go-to and they’ll even install it in-store using an applicator that aligns it perfectly with minimal hassle. But that £25 could net you almost 3 screen protectors you could install yourself, so if you’re in the habit of dropping your phone it might not be cost effective!

At first I thought the screen protector including the notch was to prevent it interfering with the camera and Face ID functionality, but since installing mine I’m happy to report no ill effects. I prefer the notchless screen protector, since it actually protects the whole front of the phone. It’s seamless, save for a necessary cut-out for the speaker.

In addition to not interfering with the camera or other mad contrivances mounted in the notch of the iPhone, the Proporta screen protector doesn’t interfere with touch or drag recognition at all, and feels identical when touched to the more expensive Belkin alternative. It’s also easy enough to wipe away finger smudges with a teeshirt.

Overall, if you’re confident enough to install your own screen protector and have 10 minutes to spare, cleaning, fishing out dust, and re-aligning the Propota shield glass screen protector will give you a great looking and protected screen for less than half the price of the Belkin alternative. Buy two, and keep one spare just in case.

Note: The screen protector shown on Proporta’s website has “horns”, but the one I received does not. YMMV. If you give on a try, let me know which you receive and if it has horns, I’d love to know if they align with the curvature of the notch*.

* Ugh. The notch is stupid. Steve would have made the designer *eat* this phone.

Saturday, March 24th, 2018, iPhone.