If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck when it comes to a mid-range smartphone, look no further than Google’s Pixel 3a. Although the phone is known for its performance and high-powered visuals, it’s still mortal, meaning chances are that it’s going to crack if you drop it on a hard surface.
Thankfully, you can save yourself some serious cash and a major headache by outfitting your Pixel 3a with a screen protector. Here are a handful of our favorite ultra-thin screen protectors, each of which can extend the lifespan and improve the look and feel of your device.
Popularized by its quality lineup of cases, Spigen’s take on a tempered glass screen protector is another offering worth looking at. The Glas.tR was designed to be compatible with Spigen’s own cases, but it’s cut out precisely enough to fit well with any other. The tempered glass has a multi-layer structure composed of silicone resin, a PET base, an OCA layer, and an anti-dust nano-coating — in other words, it will keep your screen well protected. Even then, the glass is thin enough to ensure a high touch responsiveness and will add little to no weight to your Pixel 3a.
Screen protectors in general can be quite a nuisance to install, but the premium tempered glass offering from LK is an exception. Included in the box is an installation frame that guides the placement of the screen protector. Installing it is as easy as placing the frame on top of your Pixel 3a and slotting the glass inside. If you do find yourself with a misplaced protector, or you just want to swap it out after some wear and tear, there’s an extra two in the box. LK implements a hydraulic and oleophobic coating on each piece of glass so you’ll have a smudge-free experience every time.
If you fancy the more classic route of plastic film protectors, then do yourself a favor and pick up an IQShield Anti-Bubble clear film. This revolutionary screen protector uses a water-spray solution that prevents dust and small particles from sneaking underneath the plastic film during installation — don’t worry, the spray won’t cause any water damage in your phone. Unlike the usual plastic film protector, the IQShield is made with thermoplastic urethane, which makes it flexible enough to self-heal when scratched. During the installation process, you’ll be able to squeegee out any bubbles and excessive dirt under the protector, giving you the clarity and responsiveness that you want with clear film options.
If you’re looking to protect glass, your immediate thought probably isn’t just to add more glass. But oddly enough, it works. Ringke’s Invisible Defender is made from 9H hardness tempered glass, making it extremely scratch-resistant, and it has a 2.5D edge, so there are no sharp edges to catch your fingertips. It’s just 0.33mm slim, so it won’t add noticeable bulk to your phone, and despite the oleophobic coating that keeps fingerprints and oils away, it shouldn’t impede your display’s clarity or touch sensitivity. While it doesn’t come with the additional features you’ll see on other entries in this article, it makes up for that by offering great value and coming in a triple pack.
If protection was everything, then we’d clad our phones in concrete and inch-thick bulletproof glass. But that might ruin the sleek lines of our devices, so we tend to prefer options that are a little more subtle. Totallee specializes in subtle protection like its ultra-thin case — and that protection extends to the front of your phone too. Totallee’s screen protector is made from tough tempered glass, adding protection from scratches and drops, but it’s also extremely subtle. Rather than terminating at the edge of the screen, this protector extends all the way up to the bezel’s edge, providing protection that covers the whole front of the screen and aims to be undetectable once applied. However, it’s on the more expensive side.
Screen protectors aren’t just about protection — they can also add some extra utility. The MatteSkin film screen protector from Skinomi provides good protection against everyday damage with its tough plastic film, but the headline feature is in the coating. An extra coating provides a matte finish to the protector, which helps to reduce reflections and glare from strong lights, making your screen easier to see on sunny days, or around bright lights. It’s self-healing, so will close up small scratches, and has been treated to resist yellowing as it ages. On the downside, film is not as tough as glass, and it won’t protect as well as a result. But if you need that matte coating, it’s still a great protective choice and you get two in the pack.
The Glass Plus is the only screen protector InvisibleShield is offering for the Pixel 3a, but it’s certainly a strong performer. It’s made from super-hard aluminosilicate, which InvisibleShield claims gives it four times the scratch-resistance of normal glass. There are reinforced edges to prevent chips and cracks from forming there, and the new “ClearPrint” oleophobic coating is meant to disperse oils from fingerprints so thin that they’re almost invisible. It even comes with its own installation kit so you can be sure you’re applying it correctly. All those features come at a price — and it’s a high one. But if you’re happy to spend the dollars, this is excellent protection.
Like the Skinomi Matteskin, SuperShieldz is offering something outside of pure protection with the Privacy Shield. While you’ll get tough, Japanese PET film that provides excellent scratch-protection, the real draw is the privacy-enhancing coating that fades out your screen when viewed from any angle other than directly ahead. While this can make it harder to share videos or images with other people, it also makes it much harder for anyone to see what you’re currently doing on your phone. As such, it’s a must for anyone who works with confidential information, or simply wants to be completely secure while using a banking app or anything similar. It’s not a bad price, and comes in a twin pack. But be aware it won’t be as strong as glass — though it does have a lifetime guarantee.
Otterbox has long been synonymous with phone protection, and now it has teamed up with Corning — the company behind the Gorilla Glass that protects many phone screens — to produce the Amplify screen protector. The Amplify is made from high-strength aluminosilicate, which provides up to five times the scratch-protection of normal soda-lime glass, and should also protect well against drops. It’s easy to install and it’s compatible with many cases, making it a great choice for full protection. On the minus side, it’s extremely expensive, but you get Otterbox’s limited lifetime warranty at that price, so it’s slightly easier to swallow.
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