The iPhone 6 And The Future Of Screen Protectors

July 30, 2014 9:06 AM

In a recent video, tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee shows an iPhone 6 front screen protector resisting attack from a knife without taking damage. What does this mean for the future of screen protectors?

Ed Tyson is the CEO at Expert Shield, a screen protector company based in the UK. We asked him a few questions about the future of his business, in light of recent developments by Apple.

iPhone screen

Given the recent speculation, do you expect the iPhone 6 to have a ‘sapphire glass’ screen?

Apple certainly wants the world to think so! Realistically though, I doubt that the screen will be pure sapphire. Sapphire is approximately 300-400% more expensive than Gorilla Glass to produce, which would put a significant dent in profits unless they also hiked up prices. Marques himself admitted the leaked front cover he tested proved to be unlikely to be pure sapphire in a second video he posted, where it was scratched easily with sandpaper.

It’s worth noting that any form of glass, by it’s very composition will always be subject to scratching. The marketing surrounding whatever new “unscratchable” material has been released will always overhype the product. I remember people questioned whether we’d need screen protectors when the first iPhone was released in 2007 along with the first generation of Gorilla Glass.


The iPhone 6 And The Future Of Screen ProtectorsDo you think that the speculation surrounding the iPhone 6’s supposed ‘sapphire screen’ makes a screen protector unnecessary, and what does this mean for the industry?

That’s a great question. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need screen protectors – or even cases. Phones and other much loved tech would just be indestructible. Unfortunately, nothing is indestructible, not even sapphire.

A customer admitted to me just a few weeks ago that they didn’t feel it necessary to fit a protector to their Nexus 5, which has a Gorilla Glass 3 screen – one of the most scratch-resistant screen materials currently available. He dropped it on the floor and it landed face down on the stone pavement. The fall didn’t damage it, but as he carefully picked it up the phone moved slightly and grit from the floor scratched the screen.

Screen protectors are still going strong because many customers agree that it’s well worth avoiding these headaches by investing just a little in some high quality screen protection.


Given that Apple has already been linked to the purchase of plants and furnaces used in the production of sapphire crystals, do you think that it is financially viable for Apple to produce 100% sapphire fronted iPhones, bearing in mind it would likely sell tens of millions each quarter?

Yes. I think that Apple face more competition now than ever before, so they’re going to have to work a lot harder to stay ahead. Taking a hit on the profit to be able to claim a ‘Sapphire Screen’ might be a wise move, and if anyone’s investing that much into the production of a material, they should be able to significantly lower the costs associated with its production in time.


Marques Brownlee has released a second video, and this one shows his ‘iPhone 6 front cover’ taking some serious scratches from sandpaper. What are your thoughts on the quality of testing being carried out by YouTubers and others more generally?

You can manipulate the appearance of any video to shock the viewer. Regarding Marques’ video, I’m afraid we can’t say as we just don’t know what kind of sandpaper he used. It could have been ‘glass paper,’ Silicon Carbide or a host of cheaper alternatives.


broken iPhone screenSeeing as Apple already uses sapphire crystals for its camera lenses, and for the iPhone 5S’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor, would a sapphire fronted iPhone 6 really mark a step forward in the tech world, or just a good marketing campaign?

I see this as just a good marketing campaign. If you test this new ‘sapphire’ screen against the current ultra-hard tempered glass alternatives, I honestly don’t think you’d see a huge difference. As with most marketing, its all about how the product is actually perceived in peoples’ minds, rather than its real world performance.


As someone with a huge investment in the screen protector cottage industry, are you concerned by these news stories, or do you welcome new challenges?

I’d be stupid not to be attentive to any change in my industry. I certainly welcome any technological advancements that mark genuine innovation. It’s my job to make sure my company innovates to stay alive, and embraces these changes.


Will you still be using a screen protector for your iPhone 6?

If I bought an iPhone 6, sure. But with all the other exciting releases to consider this year, that’s a big if.