When I received the tech21 Impact Shield for review, I didn’t expect the most interesting thing about it to be the application process. I’ve installed many screen protectors on my and my friends’ phones—everything from flimsy films to glass—and this is the first time it involved an installation mechanism that actually worked.
The Impact Shield itself utilizes a three-layer structure that absorbs impact and spreads it out across the shield, thereby minimizing the risk of a cracked screen. The top layer spreads out the impact force, the middle BulletSheild (featuring a BASF protection polymer) protects against the impact, and the bottom layer further absorbs the impact force to prevent it from reaching the screen. And yet despite these layers, the shield itself is very thin and a bit floppy; not as rigid as the glass screen protectors that are becoming more popular, but sturdier than the flimsy screen protectors we’ve endured in the past.
Of course, the shield also protects and scratches and scuffs, and will do a better job of repelling fingerprints than your iPhone screen will.
This particular model also provides an anti-glare coating that does a good job of minimizing light reflection, but it does darken the screen a bit in normal use. If you’re not often in harsh lighting conditions, the Impact Shield is also available without anti-glare.
Now, back to the application. tech21 provides a cleaning cloth to remove grime from your iPhone’s screen, but I recommend an alcohol wipe or full screen cleaner. Once the screen is ready, you slide your iPhone 5 or 5s into a base unit that’s used to align the Impact Shield, but that also provides you something to grip without getting fingerprints back on the screen. Peel away the bottom layer of Impact Shield, then lay it down using the bracket as a guide.
Smooth out any bubbles with the provided card, peel off the top layer, and you’re done…hopefully. Unlike some screen protectors, lifting the Impact Shield and trying again is not really option.
I will admit to being impressed by the placement precision. It skewed slightly to the right up top, but the Impact Shield has overly wide openings for the home button and speaker to compensate. The drawback to this is that you’ll definitely know a screen protector is on (see the ring around the home button below).
I also prefer when shield developers include tape to remove dust particles that get on the screen during the installation process. tech21 didn’t, so there is one imperfection on this installation that could’ve otherwise been removed.
Still, the tech21 Impact Shield provides a relatively hassle-free installation of a quality screen protector, which every iPhone should have. You may not need (or want) the anti-glare, but the scratch, scuff and impact protection are well worth the slightly less attractive iPhone screen surface.
Provides: iPhone 5/5s screen protection
Minimum Requirements: iPhone 5/5s (also available for iPhone 4/4s, iPad mini and iPad)