Do Screen Protectors Crack Easily?

Do Screen Protectors Crack Easily

Updated: September 5, 2023

Screen protectors, as the name suggests, are accessories designed to protect your phone or tablet screen from scratches, dents, and even hard impacts. They can be made of tempered glass, plastic, and liquid. Each type of screen protector provides a different degree of resistance to pressure, providing a different degree of protection. Therefore, the question of whether screen protectors crack easily depends on the type and quality of the screen protector used.

What kind of screen protector can crack?

Tempered glass screen protectors, as the most common, are characterised by high strength and resistance to impact. Tempered glass is made from safety glass that has been thermally or chemically treated, which increases the strength compared to ordinary glass. Under pressure or impact, a good tempered glass screen protector can crack but not shatter, protecting your device’s screen from serious damage. The surface tension of tempered glass is directed outwards when it breaks. This allows the glass to withstand all or most of the physical impact. In this case, the degree of protection against impact depends largely on the quality of the material and production technology, thickness and force of impact. Quality tempered glass protectors can withstand significant unintentional falls, which reduces the likelihood of cracking or damage.

Cracked tempered glass after dropping the phone on rocks.
Cracked tempered glass after dropping the phone on rocks.

On the other hand, plastic or polymer screen protectors, primarily PET films, are less durable. They are known to scratch easily, and when bumped, they do not provide the proper level of protection for your phone’s screen. While PET films are usually thinner and less noticeable on the device, even the highest quality and most expensive PET films fall short of the cheapest tempered glass. PET films do not crack or break. However, PET film can easily be scratched or cut after contact with a sharp object.

Liquid screen protectors provide a completely different benefit. Instead of a physical barrier, the liquid coating forms a hardened layer on the screen itself. In theory, a film a few microns thick prevents contact of small abrasive grains of sand, and sometimes sharp and blunt objects with the phone screen. In practice, the strength characteristics of the liquid film are significantly lower than PET film. Liquid film does not crack, but it does not provide even the minimum level of protection.

In general, only tempered glass tends to crack due to surface tension. By cracking or completely breaking, tempered glass blocks external impact and prevents damage to the phone screen. Replacing a cracked or damaged tempered glass is much cheaper and easier than replacing a badly damaged screen on the device itself. Thus, the cost of a screen protector, even if it cracks from a severe impact, is justified, considering the expensive and complicated repair process associated with screen damage.

Why do screen protectors crack so easily?

High-quality tempered glass made by chemical tempering or glass reinforced with several layers of plastic is usually more resistant to cracking than cheap tempered glass. It is important to realise, however, that cracking of tempered glass is quite natural under certain conditions. Cracking or complete breakage is the result of excessive physical impact on tempered glass. If the physical impact exceeds the permissible value, then the tempered glass breaks to absorb the applied physical force and protect the phone screen. However, there are instances that result in accidental or spontaneous cracking of tempered glass:

Impact. Tempered glass screen protector may crack or shatter under severe impact. This can happen when the device is dropped on a hard surface or when it is subjected to strong pressure. Sometimes the impact can be on the side edge of the tempered glass, which is the most vulnerable area. Improper installation. Incorrect installation can cause air bubbles or misalignment, weakening the integrity of the tempered glass and making it more prone to cracking.

Defects. Even high-quality tempered glass screen protector sometimes has manufacturing defects. As a result, such glass is more susceptible to cracking. Defects are more common in cheap tempered glass. Because in pursuit of a low and more competitive price, manufacturers skimp on production quality and quality control of the manufactured products.

Wear and tear. Over time, even the most durable tempered glass can develop small scratches, chips and micro cracks. Eventually, various damages can lead to cracks.

Part of the cracked tempered glass.
Part of the cracked tempered glass.

Temperature fluctuations. Abrupt temperature fluctuations, exposure to very low or high temperatures can lead to a deterioration of the physical properties of tempered glass. As a result, tempered glass may accidentally crack upon minor impact or crack spontaneously.

Excessive vibration. Excessive vibration can damage both the phone and the tempered glass screen protector alone. Mounting your phone on the handlebars of a bicycle or the dashboard of a car can cause it to break at the most inappropriate time.

Creating stress points. Sometimes the phone case can press on the tempered glass displacing it. As a result, the tempered glass can crack from even the slightest finger pressure on the screen.

To minimise the risk of cracking, follow a few simple rules:

  • Choose tempered glass from reputable brands that use high quality materials. Follow the installation instructions carefully to avoid creating stress points.
  • Use a case along with the tempered glass to provide extra protection. Most cases have a small protrusion around the perimeter of the screen. This prevents the tempered glass from coming into contact with a hard surface when the phone is dropped with the screen on a flat surface.
  • When using tempered glass with a case, make sure that the case does not press or squeeze the tempered glass. A small space around the edge of the glass is required. It is also worth remembering that materials expand when heated and shrink slightly when cooled.
  • Be careful when handling the device to avoid unnecessary shocks. Carry the phone in a separate pocket of your clothes or bag, where the phone will not be subjected to unnecessary pressure.
  • Check the tempered glass regularly for signs of wear and tear. If necessary, the tempered glass should be replaced.


The article details why do screen protectors crack easily? Only tempered glass has a tendency to crack. As a result of thermal or chemical treatment, surface stresses form on the surface of tempered glass. When subjected to excessive pressure or impact, tempered glass cracks to prevent damage to the phone screen. Therefore, in most cases, cracking of tempered glass is a natural process to prevent damage to the phone screen. In some cases, tempered glass may spontaneously crack or fracture under slight pressure and impact. The main cause of such phenomenon may be: manufacturing defect, presence of weak surface damage, excessive wear and tear, incorrect installation and operation of tempered glass.


Are screen protectors supposed to crack?

Tempered glass is designed to absorb shock and protect your device’s screen from damage. When subjected to significant pressure or impact, tempered glass cracks, taking the brunt of the damage. Therefore, under normal circumstances, the cracking of tempered glass indicates that it has performed its task properly.

Do screen protectors crack over time?

Yes, tempered glass does crack over time. This is often due to wear and tear from daily use, accidental drops, or hitting hard surfaces. Fortunately, any damage is taken by the tempered glass and not the phone screen itself. Therefore, periodic replacement of tempered glass is quite common and sensible.

How long does a screen protector last?

The lifespan of a screen protector largely depends on its type and quality, but it can usually range from six months to several years.

Is it normal for a screen protector to crack?

It’s not uncommon for a screen protector to crack, especially when it is hit or scratched hard, as it is designed to absorb damage intended for the screen.

Do screen protectors go bad over time?

Over time, due to use, exposure to heat or cold and other factors, the screen protector can go bad. Therefore, it is recommended that you replace it as soon as it begins to show signs of wear and tear.

How often should you replace your screen protector?

The service life of the screen protector depends largely on the type and quality of the screen protector, as well as the degree of wear and tear. As a general rule, it is recommended to replace the screen protector when it shows signs of wear such as scratches, cracks or peeling edges, which is usually between 6 months and a year of use.

Do screen protectors wear out over time?

Yes, screen protectors will wear over time due to daily physical contact with fingers, sand and minor dirt.

What is the lifespan of tempered glass?

The lifespan of tempered glass depends on various factors, including quality, but it can usually last up to two years consistently under optimal conditions.

Can a crack go through a screen protector?

Although a quality tempered glass screen protector can prevent damage to the screen, a sufficiently strong impact can cause a crack to form underneath the protective coating.

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About the author

Alex Gustman

My name is Alexander.
I am the author of articles, reviews and videos on the YouTube channel of I have been testing various electronic devices, mobile games and Android applications since 2012.

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