Belkin’s special machine puts an end to one hateful aspect of phone ownership

No-one, absolutely no-one, wants the task of attaching a screen protector to their phone. It’s never simple, and it almost inevitably ends up with dust, hair, or air bubbles between it and the screen. Belkin, the popular mobile accessory manufacturer, has a cool solution we tried out at IFA 2018. It doesn’t just handle the process of fitting the protector, but it avoids all the common pitfalls too.

Belkin already has a range of glass screen protectors for the current Apple iPhone range, and we got a demonstration on the iPhone X. To simplify the application of the screen protectors, and make its products more attractive, Belkin invested in the TrueClear Pro, a machine that does all the work. It’s the company’s own design, and you’ll find it in some Apple Stores now, with more coming to T-Mobile stores in the U.S., and a selection of retailers in the U.K. including John Lewis, Carphone Warehouse, and soon Vodafone stores too.

Think of the device as one of those sandwich makers you see in coffee shops, except instead of bread and a yummy filling being put inside, it’s your phone and a shiny new screen protector. It’s operated by the staff of the store you visit, and isn’t something you personally purchase. After removing the old screen protector and cleaning the screen on our iPhone X, it was placed upside down on a custom tray designed specifically for the phone, which holds it in place with the new screen protector. What happens next is almost magic.

The top is closed, the screen protector backing is pulled from the front of the machine, and the top is opened back up. The protector still has a plastic cover over the top so the glass does not get scratched while the air bubbles are pushed out. This gets ripped off, and it’s done. That’s it. No worrying it’s not on straight, no cat hair underneath, and no swearing as you realize you’ve made a mess and wasted $30.

Perfect fit

We got the ScreenForce Tempered Curve Screen Protector, which costs $40/35 British pounds, and fits the iPhone X perfectly — right down to matching the curved sides of the screen itself. It’s just 0.33mm thin, has a hardness rating of 9H — the highest you can get — and resists fingerprints. It feels very close to the iPhone X’s screen itself, unlike many plastic screen protectors. After it was fitted, there was a small air bubble left at the bottom of the screen, which disappeared the day after. So far, we’re enjoying having it on our phone.

Belkin’s screen protectors did cause some controversy late last year, when previous versions of its InvisiGlass Ultra covers broke quickly after installation. Updated versions returned to Apple Stores in February this year. We did not try out the InvisiGlass version. There are also questions over the effectiveness of screen protectors at all; but we have less of a problem when they don’t ruin the tactility of the original screen underneath, which the Belkin ScreenForce seems to avoid.

Belkin told us it recommends retailers with the TrueClear Pro machine charge only for the screen protector, and offer the fitting service for free. Some retailers may not follow this and charge for a more premium service. Almost regardless, having the screen protector fitted perfectly by someone else removes one of the most hateful aspects of smartphone ownership.

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