Screen protectors are becoming an important addition to the modern smartphone. As screens get bigger, the price of repairing a smashed screen goes up. In many cases, the price of a new screen seems at odds with the overall price you’ve paid for the device, but you’ll grin and bear it because it’s still cheaper than getting a new phone.
Mongrel Glass, from Melbourne-based Android specialists Mongrel Phones, is not your average screen protector. The most obvious differentiator that sticks out is the price: it’ll set you back $45 – about 4 times the price of your average plastic screen protector you’d buy from eBay, DealeXtreme or even just a booth in a suburban shopping centre.
Unlike those screen protectors though, Mongrel Glass is different. It’s made of 8 (!) layers of material, and even includes its own layer of tempered glass. You can find the full composition of the material and more on their site. Once you’ve applied Mongrel Glass, you get the sense your device should be impervious to most things short of an asteroid collision.
It’s clear from a look through the packaging that a lot of thought has gone into the application and usage of Mongrel Glass. The product arrives in a padded, sealed box that contains a number of assistive devices to help you apply your screen protector:
- Wet wipe
- Dry wipe
- Cleaning cloth
- Dust removal stickers
- Button inserts
- Mongrel Glass – can’t forget this
The screen protector itself is packaged up as you would expect with a front and back protective film that you’ll need to remove in order to apply it to your device. What’s different though is the “positioning sticker” that’s stuck to the side, allowing you to line up the screen protector where you want it to be placed on your screen and stick it to the side of your phone to ensure you get the positioning right during application — all of this happens before you remove anything.
Once you’ve lined up the screen protector, you’re directed to use the wet wipe and dry wipe in succession to remove dust and fingerprints from your device’s screen. Anything left can then be dealt with by the dust removal stickers – just stick them over the dust and pull it up and it’s gone. After that, it’s business as usual – you remove the back film, stick the screen protector in place, then remove the front film and press it down as needed.
As the screen protector is a little more rigid and less flexible than others, and so much effort went into preparation with the supplied materials, there were no air bubbles, dust or grit and I barely had to do anything.
My application didn’t go quite according to plan because I didn’t attach the positioning sticker to the side of the device properly, but it’s still good enough – my advice would be to check the position a few times before proceeding. If you really get it wrong, you can remove it and wash it, although we were advised to be careful if attempting this as you should avoid bending the protector (fair enough – it’s glass).
Overall I was extremely impressed with the forethought, instructions and attention to detail that’s gone into the product. It’s a cut above the rest and made application easy. It’s heartening to see that Mongrel cares about the application process and not just about getting product out of its warehouse.
The edges have a pleasing curve to them and feel conducive to running your finger over them in much the same way as the sides of the Nexus 4′s front panel did. The face of the screen protector is smooth to the touch and in no way interferes with touch functions of your device’s screen.
As you’d expect from a screen protector comprising 8 layers of material, Mongrel Glass adds a tangible layer to the front of your phone, although there’s no gap between the protector and the display. One drawback to this is that it adds enough of a layer to stop Samsung’s S-View and Flip covers from fully closing, although once you apply Mongrel Glass you might not need to use those covers to protect the front of your phone any more.
The only clue you’ve got a thick, durable screen protector attached is the lip around the S4′s physical home button. If you need your home button to be level with your screen protector, Mongrel includes a couple of inserts in the package that you can stick to your home button to raise its profile and make it even. I didn’t feel it necessary to use them.
It’s important to note that Mongrel Glass doesn’t instantly ruggedise your phone – a drop onto a hard surface or a serious impact with the screen can still shatter your pride and joy, but it’s far more durable than a piece of plastic film which will get torn up by passing keys and it does protect your screen from many of its natural enemies. Keys and coins had no effect on the screen protector. The screen even seems more resistant to fingers, and remains perfectly visible when outdoors. What’s not to like?
With a price tag of $45, Mongrel Glass might be a tough sell to someone who just wants to protect their device against an occasional bump and scratch. Were the price to come in around $25 I think it’d be impulse buy territory and you could see consumers going for the higher priced premium product.
As someone who smashed his Galaxy Nexus screen and footed the near-$300 bill to replace it, I’m all for phone protection, especially when the value of the phones seems to be constantly rising. Ultimately it’s up to you to weigh up whether you’re happy to make the investment, but Mongrel has impressed me. In the interests of protecting your phone, and supporting an Aussie company with a good product while you’re at it, I highly recommend you give it a shot.