Person replacing screen protector on smartphone

The Best iPhone Screen Protectors in 2021

By Jordan Nottrodt AccessoriesNo Comments

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Along with flip phones, VCRs, and classic iPods, shattered iPhone screens are becoming a thing of the past. The glass on recent iPhone 11, 12, and especially 13 models is extremely tough, persevering through damage test after damage test (until dropped from 10 feet, at least.) 

Unless you’re bungee jumping or trying your hand at parkour, you likely won’t be doing things that risk shattering your screen. Scratches remain a concern, though, especially if you keep your phone in a pocket, purse, or bag with metal items like keys or coins.

Sand can also scratch iPhone screens, so if you’re likely to spend time on the beach, a screen protector is a small, worthwhile investment. They also tend to ward off oily fingerprints, and some include antibacterial technology that kills the common surface bacteria living and breeding on your phone. Seriously, there are a lot of them.

Keep in mind the screen protector itself is not invincible. Scratches and cracks can still appear, but it’s the protector being damaged, not your expensive phone display. It’s intended to be sacrificial, so plan to swap it out for a new one eventually.

In the end, screen protectors are mainly designed to guard against scratches and fingerprints, while adding a little additional drop protection. 

Sale
Best iPhone Screen Protector: ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass Elite VisionGuard+
  • Material: Tempered glass
  • Privacy? No
  • Oleophobic? Yes
  • Anti-microbial? Yes
  • Other features: Blue-light filter

Best Easy to Install Screen Protector for iPhone: Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector
  • Material: Tempered glass
  • Privacy? Yes, in certain sizes
  • Oleophobic? Yes
  • Anti-microbial? No
  • Other features: Auto-aligning installation frame

Sale
Best Privacy Screen Protector for iPhone: ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass Elite Privacy+
  • Material: Tempered glass
  • Privacy? Yes
  • Oleophobic? Yes
  • Anti-microbial? No
  • Other features: None

Best Budget iPhone Screen Protector: Ailun Glass Screen Protector
  • Material: Tempered glass
  • Privacy? Yes - a model with basic privacy protection is available
  • Oleophobic? Yes
  • Anti-microbial? No
  • Other features: None

Best iPhone Case With Screen Protector: Catalyst Total Protection Case
  • Material: Glass
  • Privacy? No
  • Oleophobic? Yes
  • Anti-microbial? No
  • Other features: Part of an impact and water-resistant case

Tempered Glass Screen Protectors

Look for a tempered glass screen protector instead of one made from plastic. 

There are several notable downsides to plastic screen protectors. For one thing, they’re thinner, so they provide less protection and scratches show more clearly. A plastic screen protector will lose its clarity over time: combined with the fact that they’re not fingerprint-resistant, count on a smudgy viewing experience. 

They also don’t protect the edges of the screen. Really, the only thing plastic screen protectors have going for them is that they’re reusable. Considering the amount of wear they take over time, though, you probably won’t want to reuse them anyway.

Tempered glass screen protectors are just the opposite. They provide better protection, they’re fingerprint-resistant, and they make for a much clearer viewing experience. They’re also a lot smoother to the touch, which is pretty essential when using a touchscreen.

Although they’re not reusable, some brands include spares with each purchase in case you make a mistake during the installation process, or the protector acquires too many scratches. 

Best iPhone Screen Protector: ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass Elite VisionGuard+

ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass Elite VisionGuard - Impact Protection, Scratch Resistant, Fingerprint Resistant - Made for Apple iPhone 13 and iPhone 13 Pro

The ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass Elite VisionGuard+ offers extra protection for your screen, along with a number of other handy features. The screen protector is made from a similar aluminosilicate material to that used in laminated safety glass, with reinforced edges intended to prevent chips and cracks from spreading.

The glass also comes with a dispersing treatment that diffuses the oil from your fingers, helping spread it more thinly on the surface so that fingerprints are hardly noticeable. 

If that’s not enough, the protector also filters high-energy visible (HEV) blue light without distorting or affecting the color performance. While the health claims about blue light are complicated, using this screen protector is a whole lot easier than investing in blue light glasses if it’s something you’re concerned about. 

The VisionGuard+ also includes an antimicrobial treatment that helps prevents the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms. We probably don’t want to think about anything microscopic growing on our phone screens, but ask yourself: how often do you wash your hands before whipping out your phone?

With good scratch protection and a raft of useful extra features, the ZAGG VisionGuard+ is our top iPhone screen protector right now for all recent models. You can buy the VisionGuard+ protector on Amazon for the iPhone 12 or 13 range, or direct from ZAGG’s website.

Pros
  • Strong scratch protection
  • Filters blue light
  • Disperses oil left behind by fingerprints
  • Antimicrobial treatment
  • Limited lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Higher cost

Best Easy to Install Screen Protector for iPhone: Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector

Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector [Glas.tR EZ Fit] designed for iPhone 12 (2020) / iPhone 12 Pro (2020) [Case Friendly] - 2 Pack

A crooked screen protector or trapped piece of dust is hard to ignore, and can quickly taint the excitement of a new iPhone. While all screen protectors claim to be easy to install, some systems are better than others. 

The Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector installation is impossible to mess up. The screen comes in a plastic auto-alignment installation frame measured to perfectly fit the display of your iPhone. All you need to do is place the tray over the display of the phone, press down, then remove the plastic casing. 

Otherwise, this product is much like other simple tempered glass screen protectors. It guards against scratches and prevents smudges caused by fingerprints but doesn’t come with extra features like antimicrobial treatment or blue light protection. 

Spigen’s protector is available for all iPhone models from iPhone X onwards, including the smaller SE and Mini models, and the latest iPhone 13. Privacy screen versions are also available in certain sizes. Because of its auto-installation feature, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all option, so make sure you have the exact right size before buying.

Pros
  • Simple and accurate installation
  • Reasonable cost
  • Scratch and shatter protection
  • Disperses oil left behind by fingerprints
  • Privacy screens available
  • Includes a second screen
Cons
  • Basic features
  • More waste/packaging

Best Privacy Screen Protector for iPhone: ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass Elite Privacy+

ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass Elite Privacy+ - Privacy Screen Protector for iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 12, iPhone 11, iPhone XR – 3X Impact Protection (200106681)

A privacy screen protector not only protects your screen from scratches, it guards against unwanted eyes. Whether you’re writing personal messages or entering passwords and bank details, the last thing you need is someone looking over your shoulder. 

As iPhone screens get larger, it becomes that much easier for prying eyes to sneak a peek. Good privacy screen protectors narrow the viewing angle so only you can see what you’re doing. Your own viewing experience remains the same, but someone standing beside you who glances at your phone will only see a black screen.

The ZAGG InvisibleShield Glass Elite Privacy+ offers many of the same features we outlined for the InvisibleShield Glass Elite VisionGuard+ above. The main difference is that Privacy+ offers full screen privacy when viewed from the side. 

The trade-off is losing the blue light filter and antimicrobial treatment. The Glass Elite Privacy+ still provides good scratch protection, with reinforced edges that prevent chips and cracks and the oil-dispersing treatment that diffuses fingerprints.

It’s available on Amazon for most recent models from the iPhone X onward, including the iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Pro Max, iPhone 12 Mini, etc. Again, if you can’t find the size you’re looking for on Amazon, check out ZAGG’s website.

Zagg has also released privacy screen protectors for the iPhone 13 range, including a “360” model that works in both portrait and landscape mode. They’re not available yet on Amazon at time of writing, but you can buy them direct from Zagg.

Pros
  • Side view privacy filter
  • Strong scratch protection
  • Disperses oil left behind by fingerprints
  • Limited lifetime warranty
Cons
  • Higher cost

Best Budget iPhone Screen Protector: Ailun Glass Screen Protector

Ailun Glass Screen Protector Compatible for iPhone 12/12 Pro 2020 6.1 Inch 3 Pack Case Friendly Tempered Glass

If budget is a concern and you’re not looking for anything in the way of special features, check out the Ailun Glass Screen Protector. It’s made with tempered glass, protects against residue left behind by fingerprints, and costs very little. 

If you’re willing to spend a couple bucks more, the Ailun Glass Screen Protector is also available with a tinted privacy screen. The privacy filter isn’t as effective as more expensive options though, as it will darken your entire screen, similar to tinted windows. This means your own viewing experience will be degraded unless you turn up the brightness of your display. 

It’s available for recent iPhone models, including the 12/12 Pro, 12 Max, and 12 Mini, but depending on the size of your phone, the protector may not perfectly cover your entire screen. There isn’t an official iPhone 13 version yet.

Pros
  • Low cost
  • Scratch and shatter protection
  • Prevents sweat and oil residue from fingerprints
Cons
  • Basic protection
  • Basic features
  • May not be a perfect fit

Best iPhone Case With Screen Protector: Catalyst Total Protection Case

Catalyst 33ft Waterproof Case Designed for iPhone 12 - Drop Proof 6.6ft, Clear Back, Compatible with Crux Accessories Cases - Stealth Black

If you want full protection for your iPhone, the Catalyst Total Protection Case provides just that. The display is fully covered by the case, and unlike other iPhone cases, this includes full protection for the camera lens. 

Catalyst cases are also fully sealed and submersible, rated to IP68 standard, and they’re waterproof to 33 feet (10 meters). In addition to keeping water out, this total protection case can withstand drops from 6.6 feet (2 meters) or more. 

The front of the case hugs tightly to the phone display, but it’s not actually stuck to your screen and isn’t made from tempered glass, so don’t expect quite the same level of scratch protection or touch sensitivity as some of the other screen protectors mentioned here.

Total Protection cases are available from Catalyst for most recent models as below. The company makes other types of case for the iPhone 13, but hasn’t released a Total Protection version as yet.

For additional case options, we covered the toughest iPhone cases to protect against accidental drops and tumbles.

Pros
  • Two-in-one (case + screen protector)
  • Waterproof to 33 feet (10 meters)
  • Drop-resistant up to 6.6 feet (2 meters)
  • Protected camera lens
Cons
  • Bulky
  • Covered screen can lack touch sensitivity

A screen protector may seem like an unnecessary cost now that iPhones are more durable and rarely shatter, but the risk of scratches is still very real. Screen protectors are replaceable for a few bucks if scratches appear, but without one, you’ll need to live with them until you’re ready to upgrade your phone or shell out for an expensive new screen.


Main image via Shutterstock, product images via Amazon

About the Author
Jordan Nottrodt

Jordan Nottrodt

Jordan works remotely, from home or abroad, to help businesses conquer their online messaging. When she's not working or relaxing outside, she's watching movies and shows to contribute to her goal of creating the largest database of online drinking games. Spark an immediate and detailed conversation by mentioning Mad Men or Game of Thrones.

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