The ZAGG invisibleSHIELD iPhone 4/4S Screen Protector

Why Protection

I recently described how I bought my iPhone, along with my reasons for doing so. One of these reasons is my desire to upgrade to the most recent iPhone each time there's a new release, so I'm always up to date. I try and do this at the lowest cost possible.

When I upgrade to a new iPhone, I sell my then-old phone to help cover the cost of upgrading. This has worked out well in the past for me, because Apple products hold their value. One way to ensure you get the highest possible resale price for your old iPhone is to keep it in the best condition you can.

Because iPhones are pretty much slabs of glass with a computer inside, the most important part of the device to protect is the screen.

This way of thinking led me to purchase a ZAGG invisibleSHIELD iPhone 4/4S Screen Protector for my iPhone 4S. This type of screen protector consists of two sheets of plastic - one for the front and one for the rear of the device.

What Works

The ZAGG invisibleSHIELD is manufactured from a "Military grade patented material" which ZAGG describe in this way:

The authentic invisibleSHIELD film features Nano-Memory technology, which is visible as a very subtle texture in the surface of the film. This superior component of this screen cover offers four main competitive benefits:

  • Durability - Self-healing properties offer unbelievable resistance to scratches and damage, and will extend the life of your device.

  • Coverage - Greater pliability and flexibility allows the invisibleSHIELD designs to cover the corners and curves of your device better than the competition.

  • Ease of Install - The improved pliability also facilitates easier installation.

  • Drop Resistant - Improved grip makes it easier to hang onto your expensive gadgets.

  • Glare Reduction - The iPhone 4 screen protector gives your device a slight "orange peel" finish that breaks up glare and reduces finger print smudges, while still creating high resolution screen viewing clarity.

It is remarkably simple to install. ZAGG provide easy instructions and plenty of tools (there's even a liquid spray to lubricate your iPhone's screen) in the box.

It's impossible to deny that these screen protectors are anything short of impressive pieces of engineering. The film is incredibly tough and resilliant to scratches. In one especially stupid moment, I put my iPhone in the same pocket as my keys. Later, when I realised what I'd done and removed my phone, there were a couple of marks on the invisibleSHIELD, however after running my finger over the mark and leaving it for a few hours, any signs of damage which were there had gone. It was almost as if the invisibleSHIELD had repaired itself. It was quite remarkable.

From my research of iPhone screen protectors (before deciding on ZAGG's) it was clear that the invisibleSHIELD offered the most protection. This is undoubtedly true. If your biggest concern is protecting your iPhone's screen from scratches or damage, I highly reccomend the ZAGG invisibleSHIELD. ZAGG even sell a version of the invisibleSHIELD which contains protection for the outer antenna of the iPhone.

The Dealbreaker

Now, the invisibleSHIELD does protect my phone. It makes it more resilliant to scratches. Surely, therefore, I should be happy with it?

Unfortunately, I'm not. I've removed the screen protector from my iPhone and I don't plan to use one again on any of my devices. The texture of the ZAGG invisibleSHIELD is extremely different to that of the iPhone's standard Gorilla Glass screen. The iPhone's screen is extremely smooth and low friction. It's a pleasure to slide a finger around the iPhone's screen and perform gestures on the device. With the invisibleSHIELD installed, the texture became notably more rough. Scrolling through list views felt less accurate and imprecise. It became more effort to interact with the iPhone. Sometimes, I felt my phone wasn't picking up my inputs as accurately as it did without the screen protector.

I added a layer between my finger and the device, which hindered my interactions with my phone. I had intentionally added an unwanted middleman.

With the invisibleSHIELD installed, my iPhone became less enjoyable to use. When I decided to install the screen protector, I knew interacting with the screen would feel different, but I thought I'd get accustomed to it. Unfortunaly, as I regularly use both my iPhone and my iPad and I only installed the invisibleSHIELD on my iPhone, I could compare the textures of the stock iPad screen with the protected iPhone screen. Sliding my finger along my iPad's screen became skating on ice, whereas using my iPhone was like dragging my knuckles over bricks.

I use my iPhone a lot. My iPhone is now "naked", without any screen protection. I would rather enjoy interacting with my phone at the possible chance of scratches than protecting it to the detriment of usability and my satisfaction. Using my iPhone is more pleasant without the invisibleSHIELD.

In short, it feels better without protection (sorry).

Should I Have Expected This?

When describing the invisibleSHIELD, ZAGG say:

  • The authentic invisibleSHIELD film features Nano-Memory technology, which is visible as a very subtle texture in the surface of the film.

I would argue that this statement is misleading. The texture is noticably different to that of an unprotected iPhone. It's not even remotely subtle.

  • Drop Resistant - Improved grip makes it easier to hang onto your expensive gadgets.

This statement is more accurate. Advertising a screen protector as improving the grip of the device should make it clear that it'll significantly alter the device's feel.

Perhaps I should have expected the invisibleSHIELD to significantly alter the texture of my iPhone's screen. I didn't. I'm glad I learned the benefits and drawbacks of using a screen protector by experiening them myself. I hope this post will help you decide whether ZAGG's iPhone screen protectors are for you.