Mobile displays have steadily been increasing in size for the better part of the last decade. Along with the increased size, smartphones in 2020 also feature high fidelity displays with higher resolutions and faster refresh rates. It’s with this in mind that we wanted to introduce the idea of implementing a privacy screen protector as an essential risk mitigation tool to keep your sensitive information safe.
Although not widely known to the public, visual hacking has become common practice for those who wish to steal private and oftentimes, important information. Visual hacking is the act of physically spying on someone’s desk or computer/phone screens; it’s easy, happens quickly, and often goes unnoticed. While this may be a relatively low-tech treat as compared to the likes of malware and ransomware, a 2016 study by 3M and the Ponemon Institute concluded that 91 percent of visual hacking attempts were successful. Further to that, 27 percent of the data hacked was considered sensitive information.
In this article, we’ll take an in depth look into everything you’ll need to know about privacy screen protectors such that you can stay safe in this increasingly digital age. Below is a breakdown of what we’ll cover.
- What is a privacy glass screen protector?
- What to look for in a privacy glass screen protector
- Tempered Glass Or Just The Film
- Microlouvre Technology
- Two-way Or Four-Way Privacy Options
- The Right Viewing Angle
- Are tempered glass screen protectors worth it?
- Pros: What’s good
- Cons: What could be better
- Closing Thoughts
What Is A iPhone Privacy Screen Protector?
A privacy screen protector is a screen protection apparatus that has a special coating, often called a privacy filter, applied to it. This coating allows light to only pass through from certain angles which restricts its optimal viewing angles. When viewing a screen that has a privacy filter applied from a side angle the screen appears blacked out rendering the displayed images and text unrecognizable. If you’re familiar with traditional Venetian window blinds, it works in a very similar fashion. Only with the screen protector, there is a very limited viewing range which is dead center or at a very narrow front angle. Whereas most traditional screen protectors only offer protection from physical damage, privacy screen protectors go a step further in giving you a layer of security from visual hackers and other malicious threats in your immediate physical vicinity.
What To Look For In A iPhone Privacy Screen Protector
Tempered Glass Or Just The Film
Among the offerings available on the market, you will primarily run into two main types of screen protection options: those made with glass and ones that are plastic-based. In short, glass screen protectors will offer you a greater level of scratch and impact protection but will often come with a higher price tag and will add a bit of bulk to the top of your screen. On the other hand, plastic screen protectors will typically be a cheaper and less bulky alternative, which will be a considerable step down (compared to the glass) in terms of scratch and impact protection. Given how expensive and sophisticated modern smartphones have become, we strongly recommend tempered glass screen protectors. Tempered glass is about four times stronger than "ordinary" or annealed glass, and in our opinion, is the best screen protection substrate.
The Right Viewing Angle
Most privacy screen protectors in the market offer viewing angles between 45 to 90 degrees. The viewing angle needs to be narrow enough to restrict visibility for people standing within close proximity. Conversely, you also need to consider your own viewing experience. If the given range is too narrow then your view may be strained potentially causing you to adopt unnatural body positioning to be able to see the screen properly in the first place.
Okay, so let’s throw another technical term into the fray. Microlouvre technology delivers the “blackout” effect that protects your privacy from side views outside the 45 to 90 degree viewing angles. Microlouvre technology also improves the quality of the picture by optimizing light distribution and lowers potential eye-strain by minimizing visible reflection.
Two-way Or Four-Way Privacy Options
Smartphones have two orientations portrait and landscape. With two-way privacy protection, the darkened screen only works when the phone is in portrait orientation. If you switch to landscape mode, protection isn't extended, leaving the contents of your screen exposed to those around you. A four-way privacy glass screen protector covers both orientations, ultimately giving you that extra layer of protection to keep you covered all around.
Are iPhone privacy glass screen protectors worth it?
There’s a lot of debate about whether a tempered glass privacy screen protector is worth it. Let’s look at the arguments for and against it.
Here are the Pros
Privacy - They will provide peace of mind and protect you from visual hackers and other malicious threats in your immediate vicinity who may try to steal your sensitive information. This one’s pretty obvious; the added privacy protection is the biggest advantage to choosing this kind of screen protector. As mentioned above visual hacking has been on the rise in recent times and has proven to be fairly successful, a good privacy screen protector is an easy and effective solution.
Reduced Light Pollution - An added benefit of these screen protectors is their innate light containing properties. Quite simply, the light emanating from your display won’t be as harsh and bright for those in your immediate periphery. This however won’t affect clarity or brightness for the user. A prime example of when this may be useful is during plane trips. If you have a privacy screen protector applied, your neighbours sitting next you won’t be as impacted by the light of your smartphone when they’re sleeping. Courtesy is guaranteed as well as your privacy.
Scratch and Impact Protection - Glass screen protectors offer in our opinion, the greatest level of protection for modern mobile displays. A new iPhone 12 Pro in 2020 with its next generation OLED displays will run you north of $1000 USD; that is not cheap to say the least. A tempered glass screen protector is a must if you want to keep your device safe. Here is a more in depth article we wrote about the strength and efficacy of tempered glass screen protectors.
Added Functionality - Depending on the manufacturer and the quality of their product, most privacy screen protectors will come with added value functionality such as anti-glare, anti-fingerprint oleophobic and hydrophobic coatings, anti-blue light treatment and eye-strain filters. These different treatments and coatings are sure to serve you well and certainly provide additional utility.
Here are the Cons
Reduced Brightness - Applying a protective film on your screen may potentially reduce its brightness a small amount. In our experience, this however is negligible enough to not have any kind of significant impact for the average user. The difference will be almost imperceptible to the naked eye. Nevertheless, it is something that will inherently happen when you apply an added layer on top of your screen.
Application - Glass screen protectors have a specific method by which they must be applied. For the uninitiated, application may be a bit difficult at first which unfortunately can lead to a bit of frustration and ultimately lead to ruining the protector itself through the repeated attempts. Below is a handy video we’ve created that will help you learn how to apply these screen protectors like a champ!
Cost - Feature packed privacy screen protectors with their special coatings and treatments can be slightly more costly than their plastic counterparts. If cost is a major concern then you may want to consider other options but in our opinion, this is an area where you don't want to skimp as screen repair can easily run you north of $150 USD.
Sharing - An occasional share is fun, especially if you want to show a friend something from a social media platform. But if you're sporting an iphone privacy glass screen protector, it can be quite limiting. With a two-way option you can opt to use the landscape mode, and you’re good to go. It isn’t so easy with the four-way.
A privacy screen protector is an easy and highly efficacious solution against visual hackers. In addition to privacy, they will also add a layer of shock and impact protection as well as a host of other potential features. If you value privacy and security, investing in this kind of screen protector would be wise in the long run.
The takeaway here is whether you decide to use a privacy glass screen protector or not, it would be best to take caution when doing sensitive work on your mobile device and if having a privacy glass screen protector is important for you then choose well and make sure you do your due diligence to find one that meets your needs.
Available for many different devices, our Screen Patrol iPhone privacy screen protectors feature 9H tempered glass, two-way privacy, scratch resistance and anti-fingerprint coatings.