Though it came as a surprise to absolutely no one, along with the Apple iPhone has come an absolute barrage of accessories and other products to pair with your iPhone, leaving all of us with a sea of merchandise to sort through and evaluate. Slowly but surely, feedback will be available on all of these products. Some things, however, are important to be informed about right from the get-go. Depending on the person you're asking, virtually any mobile phone accessory can be considered essential. One that should be, without argument, considered essential for all PDAs is a screen protector. When considering that typical PDAs are commonly more expensive than less featured mobile devices and the usage more intense, protecting one's investment should be considered a must. Thus, the first accessory each one of you should buy for your iPhone (yes, before the fancy Bluetooth headset), is a screen protector.
The problem is, you've got dozens to choose from, most of which aren't worth your money or effort to apply. I've had experience with numerous different brands, all of which came at a relatively high cost (usually around $20 a pack) and offered extremely disappointing results. One other thing that each of these brands had it common was that each required, through various suggested methods, that they be cut to fit your device once arriving home. Consistently, each offered bubbly application results, poor clarity, and a short life span due to the fact that the protectors themselves were easily marred and scratched.
A few weeks before the iPhone was released, I decided to try moving up in the world of screen protectors. After talking to a few trusted colleagues, I decided to make my first foray into the screen protector upper crust with ZAGG's line of screen protectors, the invisibleSHIELD. Suffice it to say, I was skeptical. The invisibleSHIELD typically costs between $15-$25 for one protector, a price for which I was used to getting a pack of 8-12 protectors.
ZAGG makes an extremely boastful array of claims for it's flagship product line, the invisibleSHIELD. Specifically, ZAGG states, "invisibleSHIELD is the toughest, most durable gadget scratch protection film available on planet Earth" ... and they're just getting started. They describe the protectors as "invisible", "invincible", strong enough to protect helicopter blades traveling hundreds of miles per hour, and even go so far as to impart "self healing" properties to the urethane plastic which the invisibleSHIELD is made of. The website features pictures of someone attempting to tear the protector apart and even puncture the shield with a pencil, failing on both accounts. Finally, according to ZAGG, each protector comes pre-cut to custom fit your device perfectly.
Okay, enough, I'm sold. Let's check these out.
The invisibleSHIELD comes with the shield components, a tapered black plastic squeegee, and a small, misting bottle of spray solution which is intended to aid in the application of the protector to your device. The iPhone full body protector, unlike the other full body protector we received, comes with two bottles of the solution.
Considering ZAGG's momentous claims about the durability of the invisibleSHIELD, I decided to test that first. As mentioned above, ZAGG shows images depicting plenty of different stress tests on their protectors. So, I figured I'd try a couple of my own. Instead of their pen test, I figured I'd try to bust through the shield with a fork. Using some test material sent along by the company with the actual protectors I ordered, I placed the material over a four pronged fork and pulled. Much to my delight, the material performed as promised. Until I could no longer keep a grip on the plastic, the urethane stretched and stretched, ever more conforming to the fork, but not puncturing.
My scratch test yielded similar results. Using first my trusty fork and subsequently a pair of scissors (opened to expose the sharp blade), I scraped away at another sheet of the invisibleSHIELD scrap material. Again, as promised, the shield performed as touted. None of the fork or scissor strokes left any observable scratches on the material. Later, once I had applied my invisibleSHIELD to my iPhone, I worked up the courage to try a few fork strokes along the screen of the protected iPhone. Much to my delight, the iPhone and the invisibleSHIELD emerged unscathed.
The installation instructions that come with the invisibleSHIELD urge both care and patience. Due to my lack of the latter, I tend to abandon the former. So, what follows is a description of a hasty application of the invisibleSHIELD. Luckily, I had my Samsung Blackjack handy to try first, hoping to get better results out of the iPhone as a second victim.
Both applications turned out to be far easier than expected. Using the provided spray and squeegee, it was surprisingly simple to correctly position each piece of the protector. More importantly, smoothing air bubbles out from under the plastic was a breeze. Though other protectors may ship with a similar accompaniment, the invisibleSHIELD application spray is presumably the lifesaver here. Having only performed dry applications before, and achieving less than desirable results, the liquid made the application smooth and effortless. The included squeegee, in my opinion, is heads and tails above using more credit card like tools to smooth out wrinkles and bubbles.
One common sense tip - start with the back first. That way you can get your feet wet on an area of the device where you won't offend yourself by not doing the job perfectly.
The invisibleSHIELD for the iPhone fits perfectly. It's almost shocking how well it handles the fluid shape of the device. The protector I tried on my Blackjack faired almost as well, but there were a few pieces that I couldn't figure out where to put.
So, is the invisibleSHIELD truly invisible? Of course not. Will you, at times, almost forget it's there? Probably.
Once you've completed a modestly capable application (I got good results on my first try), you'll be surprised how clear and unnoticeable the invisibleSHIELD is, even on the non-screen areas of the device where illumination from the LCD doesn't help hide the protector's presence. You'll mostly notice the protector by it's feel, rather than by sight.The screen protector will begin to become more apparent as it dirties, and the invisibleSHIELD is quite good at picking up fingerprints, dust, and smudges. This, however, is likely no different than the surface of the device your protecting had you not applied an invisibleSHIELD to it.
Though this probably isn't a topic of interest in most screen protector reviews, for the iPhone it is. As the iPhone is operated almost exclusively via it's touch screen - it's important to know what a prospective protection material feels like. Something incredibly sticky could potentially inhibit use as might a material that roughs up easily or becomes scuffed.If there's one area where the invisibleSHIELD is less than ideal, and there almost isn't, it's here. After application, once any residual application spray dries off, the screen protector becomes a bit tacky. Though light, graceful strokes of a finger won't bother it at all, heavily pressured strokes can drag or "stutter" across the tacky surface. Women (or men, I suppose) with long fingernails might also find invisibleSHIELD catchy. It's worth noting that in the 10 or so days between applying the invisibleSHIELD and writing this review, that the tackiness seems to have reduced significantly. The slight tackiness actually pays off big time on the back of the device (for the full body invisibleSHIELD) by greatly reducing the inherent slipperiness of the iPhone.
Put simply, I've been introduced to a whole new world in screen protection. After a couple of years of dealing with what are apparently bargain basement screen protection products from companies like 3M and Fellowes, ZAGG's products have significantly upped the bar.
The invisibleSHIELD delivered handily on all of it's promises (though I can't speak much to the "self-healing aspect" since there's been nothing to heal as of yet). It's also more than worth mentioning that all of ZAGG's products ship completely free and are all covered by a free lifetime replacement guarantee. Even if you need to send your phone in for repair, and have to remove the screen protector first, ZAGG will send you a brand new one.
The Apple iPhone invisibleSHIELD is also available in a front only model for $14.95. The full body model costs $24.95.Update: This review also applies to the invisibleSHIELD iPod Touch Screen protector.
Products reviewed: invisibleSHIELD Apple iPhone Screen Protector, invisibleSHIELD Samsung Blackjack Screen Protector
The invisibleSHIELD screen protector for the iPhone is available directly through invisibleSHIELD.com and includes free shipping.
Here you can find more info, including ordering options, about the invisibleSHIELD for the Apple iPad.