Glass Is Strong, but Not Invincible


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  • Apple’s Ceramic Shield glass is incredibly scratch resistant, but my wife’s iPhone 13 Mini still has a scratch.
  • My iPhone 13 Pro Max only has a small scratch after seven months of daily use.
  • However, you still can’t go wrong with a screen protector and a case for the best protection.

Starting with the iPhone 12 series in 2020, Apple introduced a new type of screen glass called “Ceramic Shield” which the company says is “tougher than any smartphone glass”.

I don’t have a spare iPhone 12 or iPhone 13 that I can intentionally break for official drop testing. However, I can attest that Apple’s Ceramic Shield glass is tough and particularly scratch-resistant, based on my personal experience over the past seven months since its release.

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An iPhone 13 Pro Max used for 7 months with a screen like new.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Initiate

During these months I used the iPhone 13 Pro Max with Apple’s transparent case with MagSafe, without a screen protector, and there is only the smallest scratch around the front speaker . Otherwise it looks just as good as when I first unboxed it.

I’m surprised the iPhone 13 Pro Max screen didn’t scratch more, considering what it’s been through.

A small scratch on the iPhone 13 Pro Max around the selfie camera.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Initiate

I’m pretty careful with phones. I don’t put them in the same pocket as the keys, for example. I also don’t stuff them in a bag with things that might scratch the screen, like a charging cable with metal connectors.

Yet, over the past seven months, the iPhone has suffered several waist-deep (about three feet) drops onto concrete, gravel, wood, and tile. It also fell out of my pocket in my car and slid down the sides of the driver’s seat numerous times, banging and scraping against the seat, metal seat frame, plastic air vents and interior trim. in plastic.

The iPhone 13 Pro Max also endures my one-year-old daughter who loves chewing on the phone when she’s teething. She herself has dropped the phone a few times from the sofa and the bed, where it often lands among a pile of plastic baby toys.

Without a doubt, the case I’m using has surely saved the screen from some scratching events, thanks to the lip around the edges that helps protect the screen. But still, that’s impressive durability without a screen protector.

However, the iPhone’s Ceramic Shield glass is not invincible.

The pink iPhone 13 Mini with a small but deep scratch on the screen.

Antonio Villas-Boas/Initiate

If there’s anyone who treats their electronics worse than me, or my one-year-old, it’s my wife. And yes, the screen of his iPhone 13 Mini has a deeper and more visible scratch. And this despite the fact that she uses an Apple silicone case.

Indeed, I’ve observed that she doesn’t try to be careful with her phones as much as I do. And despite Apple’s powerful iPhone Ceramic Shield screens, I’ll be gifting it a screen protector soon.

Apple’s Ceramic Shield certainly feels sturdier than previous iPhones, but it still hasn’t eliminated the need for a screen protector if you’re particularly worried about scratching your screen.

Android phones also have solid glass, but Android phone makers aren’t comfortable making Apple’s bold claim.

The latest phones from Samsung, Google and OnePlus all sport Corning’s Gorilla Glass Victus.

Samsung only claims that Gorilla Glass Victus on the Galaxy S22 series “can withstand drops better and offers solid scratch resistance.”

Google claims its Gorilla Glass Victus displays have “up to 2x more scratch resistance than previous Pixel phones” for the Pixel 6 series.

And OnePlus claims that the OnePlus 10 Pro has “the strongest protective glass ever installed on a OnePlus device, thanks to Corning Gorilla Glass Victus which offers better protection against scratches and drops”. That said, OnePlus already ships the OnePlus 10 Pro with a screen protector, so you should be covered.

But neither company is comfortable enough to claim it’s the “toughest glass in any smartphone” like Apple does.

Even Corning itself, which has worked with Apple to make Ceramic Shield glass for the iPhone, can only claim that “Gorilla Glass Victus is the tough device glass you asked for”, which isn’t quite as accurate. than Apple’s statement.

The bottom line

Apple’s Ceramic Shield has proven, in my experience, to be particularly good at repelling scratches during everyday use, that is, if you’re careful. If you’re a particularly cautious phone user and don’t want to use a screen protector, that’s another reason to consider an iPhone.

If you’re not careful or just need complete peace of mind, you should always buy a screen protector for an extra layer of protection.

The Spigen EZ FIT screen protector is included in our best screen protectors buying guide, and there’s a new version for the iPhone 13 series.


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