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Apple: Our Screens Don’t Need No Protecting

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If you’re of the camp that believes your iPhone or iPod touch’s screen needs some kind of additional protective layer to prevent it from getting damaged, you may want to head to the Apple (s aapl) store soonish to stock up on said accessories. In the very near future, you might not be able to find them, at least not through Apple’s official channels, according to sources speaking to Macworld.

The sources, who are described as Apple accessory makers who want to remain anonymous for fear of arousing Cupertino’s ire, maintain that Apple has informed them it will no longer be carrying any films or covers aimed at protecting iPhone screens from dust or scratches, or even those that claim to prevent glare and ensure privacy.

If the sources are correct, all of these types of accessories will be pulled from the Apple Store, both in its online and physical retail incarnations, as will any other accessories that stick to the surface of Apple devices. The blanket ban on anything adhesive makes sense, since these apparently have a very high return rate because of the difficulty in applying them properly.

The ban on films that “protect” the screen also makes a good deal of sense, mostly because that’s a ludicrous claim to begin with. It’s like being sold insurance against possible gryphon attack. It’s just not going to do anything, besides maybe instill a false sense of security. Think about it: do you buy protective films for your eyeglasses?

Because it’s the same exact thing. Or maybe even more ridiculous, depending on the quality of your glasses. Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch screens are made of optical glass, which is the most scratch-resistant glass in existence. I personally have owned two iPhones and two iPod touches, none of which have ever borne any kind of screen protection. I’ve dropped them all countless times, and even kept them in pockets with change and other knick-knacks, and the screens are pristine. The back cases? Not so much.

I’m not advising against due diligence here. Generally speaking, I keep my iPhone in a pocket designated for it alone, or with a pack of gum or something else non-abrasive, though sometimes I forget and throw it in with my keys. Still, keeping it loose in a bag of sand probably isn’t a great idea.

But Apple’s doing a great service to customers with this move, even if that what’s motivated it to begin with. The absence of screen protectors on Apple Store shelves should hopefully go a long way toward curbing unnecessary accessory purchases. Unless you shop at Best Buy, in which case you’ll probably come home with three screen protectors and a product service plan.

61 Responses to “Apple: Our Screens Don’t Need No Protecting”

  1. COM_by_CRAIG

    I think the reasoning for this it might be internal store complaint issue. It takes a skilled hand to get one on right, I don’t think a lot of people can do it. I got mine put on by one of the Apple employees but it was hard to find one. I think a lot of people know that Apple employees will do it for you. Either way it I think the customer satisfaction to store directly is low for these screen protectors. They are hassle for employee to put on and the customer DIY doesn’t go well either.

    I like them for the screen less glare and smudge factors.

  2. Gag Halfrunt

    This is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read. Seriously.

    Of course screen protectors actually protect the screen. Take a piece of steel wool, rub it on your iPhone’s screen, then on mine. Yours will be ruined, and I’ll buy another $5 screen protector.

    I might not mind using a phone with a few tiny scratches, but I tend to upgrade every year. Peel off the protector and I’ve got a perfect-looking phone to resell.

    > Think about it: do you buy protective films for your eyeglasses?

    Actually, YES. I paid an extra $50 for a scratch-resistant coating for my eyeglasses. It’s a very popular option. And they’re still covered with tiny scratches, just from being wiped clean and from sitting on hard surfaces.

    I also keep a $30 UV filter (made of –gasp– optical glass) over my SLR camera lens. Its primary purpose is to stop the camera lens from getting scratched, and I replace it every couple of years because it’s covered with scratches.

    I’m glad your iPhones and iTouches are pristine, and I’m glad you have no need for sticky screen protectors. I can understand the issues that stopped Apple from selling them, too. But please don’t tell me they’re doing me “a great service.” All they’re doing is making me stop at Best Buy on the way home after buying my next phone.

  3. I own an iPhone 3G. I’m on my second screen (first one was replaced after the home button stopped responding) — both are (or were) scratched. The culprit? My keys. It’s a bit disappointing, but considering the state my iPhone is in now (not only scratched by keys but cracked with awkward fall from about 2 feet…), I’m gonna stick with with screen protectors and cases for my future 4G iPhone.

  4. For the record, I really love my screen protector. I’m rough on my toys and it’s saved me a ton of scratches. I know this because it’s my second iphone and the first one got all scratched because I didn’t have the film on it.

  5. As far as “curbing unnecessary accessory puchases” goes, I prefer deciding for myself what to buy, and not having Apple look out for me in that way, thank you very much.

  6. Do note that even student like myself use protectors.
    Many claim they are ugly(because of the air bubbles), because they do not know the right way to apply them.
    How ever in my case,I discovered that using lighter fuel will remove grease on the iPhone ,then apply the screen protecter(do not tear the whole protector out to apply)while it is attached to the flim.using 2 fingers,hold down the 2 edges of the protector and slide them down the iPhone.As you slowly pull the flim away,slide your finger down the 2 edges of the iPhone ,applying the protector.if done correctly,there will be NO air pockets except on the extreme top/bottom(depending on where you start attaching the protector,I pasted mine from the top) which can be cleared buy rubbing out the air pockets with the cloth given.thus,ensuring you screen has a protector but not the airpockets mentioned,like my very own 3Gs

  7. I have also abused my original iPhone I bought in June 2007 that I still have and I believe the glass probably contains sapphire. I also have a Swiss watch that I’ve owned for 15 years that has a sapphire crystal with no scratches, even though it has been abused to no end. There is a YouTube video made in Russia where the try to break a LCD monitor that has a sapphire glass screen, with a cross bow and a hammer, to no avail. One of the issues brought up when the iPhone was announced was the fragility of the screen and I’d bet the designers went to a material like this to remove all doubt.

  8. “But Apple’s doing a great service to customers with this move…”

    Really, are you serious? People are often able to spin Apple’s bull, but this one takes the cake!

    If you’ve been lucky enough to have avoided getting your iPhone’s screen scratched, great! But that’s not been my experience, nor that of many other iPhone owners I’ve come across.

  9. seriously, who cares? apple can sell whatever they want in their own stores. its not like the iPhone is some niche gadget that’s hard to buy accessories for.
    personally, i don’t use a protector on the screen, and in 2 years of throwing my iPhone in my pocket i’ve never had one single scratch.

  10. They have one huge wall of cases and screen protectors at Apple.
    Asked a lot of the people in the store what they liked and the pros and cons. Bought mine there. However, I paid retail retail. I should have got the stuff on Ebay but had gift card. The price for car charger cables at the Apple Store was even worse.

  11. Richard Downes

    Where did you get the idea that optical glass is the most scratch resistant glass in existence?

    The optical glass on all of my camera lenses is most definitely not the most scratch resistant in existence.

    A dry cloth can easily scratch optical glass – unless it has a scratch resistant coating applied to it. That coating cannot be removed. A film protector can and on more than one occasion has saved my bacon.

  12. But what about finger / ear grease marks? My iPod gets greased up all the time. I hate seeing the smudges when its off, so I constantly wipe it on my pants leg or shirt sleeve. I just bought a film protector last week, after a year, and it was a big improvement. I don’t know about the new resistant iPhone glass, but the iPod is a mess, especially if I let someone else try it. Ick.

    I have a silicon sleeve for the Touch, too. I love it. I can “drop” the iPod on the desk and not worry it’s going to air-hockey itself 3 feet down the desk an onto the floor. I can also set it down on uneven surfaces and it doesn’t slide away. It would be great if some slip-resistant material were used on the back.

    • why would anyone try to use your iphone? with your ear grease on it, i guess thats the only time i would consider using the ugly thing, to protect it from your filth.

  13. Cold Water

    I’d sure like to know why there is a scratch on my “unscratchable” iPhone screen, then. It is big enough to catch if you run your fingernail across, but not so deep as a gouge or long enough to be a crack.

    Now, whether a film helps is a legitimate question. They’re certainly ugly, but there’s a lively case market that Apple isn’t shutting down or even trying to hurt by backing their phones with something grippier than Teflon.

  14. Congrats on your iPhone pants pocket protector. I have not been so lucky. I had my iPhone 3gs 3 weeks and I already had several scratches on the glass. Of course the problem was solved when I cracked the screen. I now have a screen protector and a hard case that I bought at the Apple Store when getting the screen replaced. The iClerk sold me what he used. Best investment I ever made.

    Yeah! I know am a klutz, but that’s why there is a market for iPhone screen protectors and cases. Back in the Timex days I went through 3 or 4 a year. I finally went out and got a good swiss watch. Wish there had been lens protector for that!

  15. I do agree that the face of the iPhone/Touch are very hard to scratch, but it is possible. I have a 1st gen and 2nd gen Touch and both have some minor scrathing on the face of them, but nothing to cry about, but for those very picky uptight people, the screen protector may just be something they want as a “just in case” option.

    • Keys will scratch the screen if you dump the Iphone in a pocket or purse.

      One plus is the store people will sometimes help you put the film on it. I hate doing it and running bubbles out from under the film.

  16. The first “screen protector” I got was glossy. Hated it. Finally found a matte one and I’ve used them since. My main problem is that I have greasy hands and I needed to clean the screen every single time I touched the phone. Now I clean it off maybe once a day if I notice a big smudge.

    I still haven’t found a case I like. Tried about five and none work well. They usually end up hurting because a piece of dust gets between the case and the phone. My last case attempt actually cut me when it splintered (hard shell plastic case).

  17. chaatie

    Those screen protectors may not be available at Apple, but I reckon they’ll be available manufacturer direct or on Amazon. I sure hope so. I think the screen protector has done its job for me on more than one occasion. I recall one time that i was walking while reading something on my iPhone (I know, probably like running with scissors), I reached a curb I did not see. Stepping off unknowingly, I dropped my phone, which landed face down followed by my foot on top of it. I picked up the phone. No cracks! but there was gravel ground into the screen protector. peeled it off and replaced the protector with NO damage at all to my screen. Now maybe the screen could have withstood that trauma by itself, but I’d rather not find out the hard way…

  18. no name

    “But Apple’s doing a great service to customers with this move”

    Are you serious? I love Apple products just as much as other people that read your blog, but the spin you put on this situation is absolutely ridiculous!

    Apple doing great service to customers by removing something that customers obviously like to use?

    I use anti-glare film just for that… to reduce the glare. It also protects my screen from scratches, because my keys managed to put a few very deep ones on my screen, until i put on the protector.

    Also, I had my phone replaced and forgot to purchase a screen protector. I dropped the phone on the ground *right outside the store* on my way out and broke the screen into hundreds little pieces. Walked back into the store and ended up paying $200 just to replace the damn screen!

    Now i have the screen protector, and dropped the phone multiple times, face down on the pavement. The screen took the damage, instead of $200 glass

    • You can buy a new iPhone glass screen on Amazon for $25. Watched a tutorial on YouTube and fixed my iPhone in two hours, since I was being very careful. Totally worth the time.

  19. “But Apple’s doing a great service to customers with this move…”

    Is that a serious statement? Because I cannot imagine how *limiting* customer choices is great service.

    • antiprotest

      Is that a serious question? Whether you address with the stated reasons or not, at least 1/3 of the article addresses this question. I will not quote it all:

      “The ban on films that “protect” the screen also makes a good deal of sense, mostly because that’s a ludicrous claim to begin with…The absence of screen protectors on Apple Store shelves should hopefully go a long way toward curbing unnecessary accessory purchases.”

    • His reasons are directly contradicted by almost every single comment to this post noting the fact that the protectors actually protect the screen based on their experience, and that they find them useful.

      It looks like many people (including all the commenters), do not think that a screen protector is an “unnecessary” purchase.

    • Lots of products want space in the store. I guess they are running out of space with the IPad release.

      I wish Apple would stop selling external hard drives in the store and just leave them on the online store. Their store hard drive selection is the worst. Also they can ditch the small selection of printers and large Harman Kardon speaker systems that are way over priced for the average user.

  20. antiprotest

    I agree. And no matter the reason, Apple has no obligation to sell anything that they don’t want to sell. People can buy the protective films elsewhere if they think they need them.

  21. I don’t have a screen protector from scratches or drops – but my finger does glide better with it (depending on brand) and it is easier to wipe clean when my fingers isn’t the cleanest – especially while eating and typing.

    Even my gaming experience on my iphone is better with a protective sheet.

  22. Andrew Gough

    I’m sure that some readers like having gryphon attack insurance. Pays your money take your choice. Personally I have an anti-glare sheet on mine because just like my anti-glare MBP it’s easier to use and less irritating than the screen in the raw…