Does Your Apple Watch Need a Screen Protector?

The Apple Watch is set to arrive on April 24, with shipments arriving to customers at that point and in-store availability most likely coming in June. However, if you’re thinking of getting a screen protector for the Apple Watch, you may need to ask yourself if you actually need a screen protector in the first place.

The Apple Watch Sport comes with ion-strengthened Gorilla Glass, while the stainless steel Apple Watch and the gold Apple Watch Edition come with Sapphire glass screens, which is to say that the displays on the device are extremely scratch-resistant and less prone to shatter if you accidentally drop it.


So essentially, your Apple Watch’s display already comes with a screen protector of sorts, but many users feel that they need that extra protection for added peace-of-mind. And while Gorilla Glass is scratch-resistant, there comes a point where it can no longer withstand certain scratches. And since you keep your Apple Watch exposed to elements at all times, as opposed to your iPhone (which stays in your pocket most times), the Apple Watch is more likely to come across things that could scratch the screen more easily.

On the other hand, if you know you’ll be cautious about the Apple Watch’s screen when you get it, do you really need to worry about getting a screen protector?

Here are a few reasons as to why and why not it’s a good idea to opt for a screen protector on your Apple Watch.


The Apple Watch Is Already Scratch-Resistant

As already mentioned, the Apple Watch comes with ion-strengthened glass displays, meaning that the screen is already toughened up and ready to take whatever scratches that come its way. And the higher end stainless steel model and the gold Apple Watch Edition come with Sapphire crystal screens, which is one of the toughest elements known to man, second only to diamond.


Screen Shot 2015-04-20 at 10.38.29 AM

Of course, it won’t stand up to anything, as a knife to the display would easily kill it, but most common household items like keys wouldn’t do much damage initially. However, if you constantly expose your Apple Watch to harmful elements or you have kids or pets that would likely do some damage, you’ll most likely end up with a scratched display eventually.

In most cases, you’ll be just fine without a screen protector, especially if you’re always careful about how you’ll handle your Apple Watch in the first place. However, accidentally dropping your Apple Watch is about the worst-case scenario there is, and most likely your screen will crack if it’s dropped. This is where some screen protectors can be useful.

Some Screen Protectors Work Really Well…

All screen protectors are not created equally, and there are many different kinds. Most of them, however, are usually made out of a thin and flexible plastic sheet that sticks onto your device’s screen using some kind of adhesive or just static electricity.


More expensive screen protectors are made out of tempered glass, which are essentially just really thin sheets of glass that you stick on top of your display. This makes it so that you’ll still get that natural glass feel to the device, but it does add a bit of thickness, since glass screen protectors are a bit thicker than regular plastic ones.

There are also more rugged screen protectors from companies like Zagg who specialize in military-grade screen protection. These screen protectors are made out of an incredible material that’s insanely scratch proof. They’re overkill most of the time and are fairly expensive, but they can be good for users who work in construction that would have an Apple Watch exposed to extreme conditions.

However, when it comes to the best protection for accidental drops, we’ve had the best luck with glass screen protectors. As seen in the video above, our own Xavier Lanier accidentally dropped his LG G3, but the glass protector took the hit and cracked, while the phone’s actual display was left intact.

Of course, some commenters weren’t so lucky, so your mileage may vary depending on what Apple Watch model you have, what type of glass screen protector is installed, and how it’s installed in the first place.


…But Many Screen Protectors Don’t Really Work

While we’ve found that the glass screen protectors usually do a better job at actually protecting a display, other types of screen protectors will only offer a minimal amount of protection.

It takes some time to figure out how it all works.

More specifically, those cheap plastic screen protectors will do absolutely nothing when it comes to accidental drops. They’ll offer a little bit of added scratch protection, but not much else past that.

This is why you want to be careful as far as what screen protector you get for your Apple Watch, as there are different kinds of protectors for different purposes. Cheap plastic screen protectors can give you a little bit extra peace of mind, but opting for a glass screen protector is probably the best option if you’re wanting the best coverage.


Screen Protectors Decrease Usability

This can be quite subjective, but I believe that a lot of screen protectors can negatively impact the clarity of the display that it’s protecting, as well as reduce touch responsiveness while using the device.

Apple Watch Bands -  - 10

Furthermore, I’ve never liked using plastic screen protectors or even some of the options offered by Zagg, simply because they eliminate the natural glass feel of the screen, and there’s nothing quite like the feeling of smooth glass on your fingertips when it comes to a high-quality touch screen.

There Aren’t a Lot of Options Yet

In the end, there just aren’t a lot of screen protection options for the Apple Watch yet. There are a few on Amazon that will be available on launch day, including many options from some less popular brands like ArmorSuit and SuperShieldz, and even some from Spigen and TechArmor, but we have yet to see a plethora of tempered glass options.

However, that should quickly change over the next few months as the Apple Watch releases and more people buy it. Companies will begin to produce more options as far as screen protectors are concerned. As for now, there are handful of options available, but the selection will get infinitely better.