Does invisibleSHIELD really work?

Though I received a screen protector with my dermaSHOT case it recently became a bit scratched up and got a couple of small nicks in it. I figured screen protectors are kind of disposable so I went out to my local BestBuy to see what they had in stock. I looked at a couple of different products but one jumped out at me: the ZAGG invisibleSHIELD. There was only a single shield in the little box, unlike a competitor that had 5 shields in it, but it came with a lifetime warranty. Reading through the information on the box it looked like it was worth a try.

The invisibleSHIELD claims to be made from the same material designed to protect the leading edge of helicopter blades. The material itself is very durable and reminds me of the invisible car masks applied to the front of cars. I figured that anything designed to withstand supersonic gravel pelting would probably be overkill on my little iPhone but that's fine.

Turns out the invisibleSHIELD is rather difficult to apply. First off, make sure you cut out and remove the holes for the handset speaker and primary button before peeling it from its backing. Otherwise you will do what I did and realize they were not punched all the way through and then try to take it off while you're holding a very large, tacky shield, trying desperately not to get finger prints on the business side.

There is a spray and squeegee provided in the kit as well. You spray down the adhesive side of the shield and apply it carefully to the iPhone. The spray makes the shield a little moveable so you can reposition it as needed, then you start in with the squeegee and work out all of the bubbles and air pockets. This is a rather difficult process because you are basically pushing out the liquid right into the areas where the handset speaker hole is and the main button. Having a clean, soft, lint free cloth handy is important in order to ensure that you can wipe up the excess liquid before it seeps into any of the openings on your iPhone.

Once applied the surface of your iPod will feel a little different. It has an almost tacky feeling to it that does not impair the ability to use the touch surface at all. The surface itself appears impervious to anything and my iPhone's screen now seems like it could repel a high speed bird strike.

The Downside
The problem with the invisibleSHIELD is that it creates a slight distortion to the screen, though this may indeed be in the way I applied it. I followed the directions exactly but could not get what appeared to be very fine bubbles away from the top portion of the screen. While I love the protection this affords the difficulty in applying this properly and the resulting distortion means I'll be returning it to BestBuy. I looked through the warranty information on the ZAGG site and it's pretty clear that problems resulting in "installation errors" were not covered. I'll likely be going with the slightly cheaper, disposable screen shields that do not require that I apply liquid in such close proximity to my iPhone.

Last Friday ZAGG announced that they were releasing a more clear backing. Who knows, maybe that will be a little better than what I experienced.


dimitrios said...

Why even bother with a screen shield? I have had an iphone since the first one came out and I have not seen a single scratch. I keep my iphone in my pants pocket. I also don't bother with a case of any kind and yes I have dropped it in the parking lot a couple of times.

Screen protectors are only necessary if you have a plastic screen. Apple deciding to go with glass was brilliant, because it doesn't scratch like plastic and if a scratch does develop you can potentially buff the scratch out.

RG-6 said...

I agree with Dimitrios.

The glass screen on the iPhone doesn't scratch - I have a day 1 iPhone used daily with no protection and the screen is still perfect.

David Alison said...

I'll have to take a picture of my daughter's iPod touch and put it up for you. Granted, she's much rougher on her Touch than I am on my iPhone (tossed in an overstuffed purse vs in a pants pocket) but these things can be scratched.

I am of course assuming here that the Touch is using the same glass as the iPhone.

For the low cost of these things (well under $20) it's a very cheap form of insurance. Given the replacement cost if something does happen I just don't want to deal with that.

Peat Bakke said...

I have the invisibleSHIELD on my phone. I appreciate the protection it provides, but the big thing I like is the texture. It's slightly more grippy without causing my finger to "stutter" during dragging operations. I think it's an improvement, but that's just me, of course. :)

Anonymous said...

I use one of those shields on my hand held Garmin gps and it works great. Like you, I had some initial bubbles that I couldn't get out, but as it dried over the next 2 weeks, they went away and the screen is now perfect. Give it some time, I'm sure the bubbles will disappear.

Trisha, KI4PCM said...

I got something that sounds like the same thing, different name, called IWrap. They advertised as it being the material put on the front of cars to prevent stone chips which I have on my car and it's worked. The IWrap is very nicely cut, so no problem with the speaker and home button, and it comes with a protector for the back as well. I had a few issues with getting the back piece on and smoothed around the edges. Ended up with one very good corner, and three ugly ones.

When Apple replaced my phone because of really bad static caused by the phone itself I decided not to buy a new IWrap. I didn't like that the corners were so difficult to smooth down, and the Apple Guinesses said they've seen many iPhones/iPods (including one owned by one of the Guinesses) damaged beyond repair by the liquid used in application.

It seems to be a good product with a flawed application process. I'm now using my phone unprotected, and I have dropped it and gotten a couple of very tiny almost unoticable marks. But I've come to the conclusion that it's not a big deal because I'll just buy the new model anyway. :-)

Anonymous said...

here are some reviews:

James Katt said...

I used the invisibleSHIELD.
It works as advertised.
Applying it with a layer of water that eventually evaporates was a concern but it was no big deal.
I liked it because the iPhone had fewer fingerprint marks also.

The main problem was that the invisibleSHIELD and all other similar screen protectors put your finger farther away from the screen. The iPhone screen needs to measure the electrical field your finger gives out in order to sense your finger's location. But using the finger become more imprecise with the invisibleSHIELD. This drove me nuts with both the invisibleSHIELD and its other competitors.

After a while, I ripped off one after the other.

Luckily, the iPhone's tempered glass touchscreen is fantastically tough. I keep my iPhone in my front pants pocket with other stuff including keys. It has zero scratches.

I can live with the fingerprints. I just wipe them off - even with my shirt, realizing the glass screen is TOUGH.

After the imprecision with the clear screen protectors, I love going BARE. Nothing comes between me and my iPhone - to paraphrase a Calvin Klein ad.

Anonymous said...

If its true that Apple is now serving Guinness, the lines at the Apple Store are going to get longer and longer!

David Alison said...

@James: nice quote man. I may just keep it naked for a while and see how it goes.

@Anon: Thanks for the link on the iLounge reviews, very helpful.

Aaron M said...

I had my first invisibleSHIELD experience when I ordered one for my Nikon D80 DSLR. Putting it on the 2 LCD's on the D80 was super simple (using the squeegee/shield on a flat surface was really easy) and the bubbles went away pretty quickly (couple days). So far I haven't seen any scratches on the invisible shield, and it's been almost a year.

I too, purchased the invisibleSHIELD for my iPhone. I was excited when it came, and quickly became REALLY frustrated. I first tried to put the backing on. I could find NO possible way to get the corners to fold around the rounded edges of the iPhone without a crease forming on the invisible shield. Since I didn't want any sharp points on the back of my phone, I kept trying and trying with no luck. On top of that, I couldn't even get the sides of the invisibleSHIELD to stick down. Eventually, I just decided that since I was going to be getting a plastic or silicon case anyways, putting the shield on the back was worthless.

Putting the invisibleSHIELD on the front was a bit simpler, but I ran into problems. A spec of dust got trapped in between my screen and the SHIELD (despite having a lint-free cloth handy). I took the SHIELD off and tried to get the spec of dust off -- no luck. What ended up happening was I got even more dust stuck under the SHIELD. This was pretty annoying but by now I had spent over an hour trying to get the stupid thing on. I gave up, left the dusty shield on, and emailed invisibleSHIELD's support to complain. They offered to send me a new one, but I was so turned off that I haven't written back.

There also are some small bubbles still on my invisibleShield.

I noticed that a friend of mine bought one of the screen protectors from the Apple Store. Apple put it on for her and it looked like they did a perfect job applying it to the screen. The only thing I didn't like was that it was a Matte finish and not a glossy finish, and I didn't like how it made the screen feel/look. Normally I'm a matte fan, but putting a matte on top of a glossy screen just made it look.... rough.

Cameron said...

ZAGG will actually replace your invisibleSHIELD for installation errors. It's a one-time pass thing. So, if you give 'em a call, they'll have a replacement in the mail to you right away.

Ryan said...

If anything, get the Anti-Glare screen protector. It's very easy to apply and the view stays pretty clear.

The thing I like most about it is it doesn't smudge neraly as much from the oils on your face or hands. Also, it allows your finger to glide over the screen A LOT nicer than a crystal film screen protector.

My Switch Easy color case and anti-glare screen protector are the best combo i've had so far. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Lantz said...

Guinness Bar! Looks like she's right. I'm so there.

David Alison said...

@Lantz: Love it. Sign me up!


My iPhone glass goes "Commando."

I do have a translucent Belkin case for the backside and edges, but for the front I prefer touching nothing but glass!



Gregory said...

Why have a protective screen? Cuz you never know. My wife managed to put two big scratches in her iPhone screen the first week she had it. Our best guess is that her wedding ring scratched it when she reached into her purse pocket with the phone to get a pen.

David, give it a few days to finish drying. It sounds like they used the window-tinting adhesive (at least the install process is exactly the same) and when I was done installing the tinting the windows were very wavy and blurry. A couple of days later the adhesive had finished drying and now they are crystal clear.


Brian Foley said...

I had the invisibleshield on my original iPhone. Unfortunately it was a single drop on the tile floor that killed that phone.

The bubbles go away over time, you have to let the shield seal to the phone and dry completely which takes a few days.

SimpleLife said...

Try Crystal Films Set at:

1) reasonable price

2) super duper easy to apply

3) protects well w/ no drag

4) super clear, can't tell it's there

5) the rear one covers mainly the custom or factory laser etching

6) can be cleaned w/ soap & reapplied

7) Apple sells it at retail & online store

8) I used one since my first iPod Mini years ago. Still using it.

Very satisfied, repeat customer.

SimpleLife said...

For cleaning a Power Support Crystal Film or a bare iPod/iPhone & to clean all things Mac & PC including glossy/matte LCD screens, aluminum, ipods, keyboards, mice I highly recommend using iKlear Apple Polish along with the two types of Microfiber Chamois & Towel.

Very good value for the good bottle, cleans beautifully. Covers scratches a tiny bit too.

Really takes cares of fingerprints & prevents scratches from papertowels, Kleenex, & "non-approved" cleaners.

Many companies including Apple approve of and use this stuff to clean their stuff.

Works well, but follow directions.

MagerValp said...

I applied invisibleSHIELD to my Sony Ericsson phone last week, and had the same problem as you with bubbles that I couldn't get out. Turns out it just needed a few days to "settle" - after a few days of use they're all gone.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the Power Support Crystal films recommendation. I absolutely hated the smudging the iPhone continously picked up, and the matte finish (for the original iPhone, oddly, you don't want the Crystal film, you want the anti-glare version... which is the same as the Crystal film for the 3G) is a delight to work with by comparison. My wife saw mine and immediately demanded I get one for hers, too. Check them out at the Apple Store... well worthwhile, and extremely easy to apply (and remove). Apple should have included them, IMO.

Anonymous said...

I use the invisible shield on my cell phone. It does work very well, as I have accidentally dropped a few times. Installation was difficult and I do have some bubbles do to my carelessness. If you do have some bubbles, they should work themselves out over the next few days. If it doesn't, then you know it's from applying the shield.

- Jon

Anonymous said...

gregory is right...

i can tell who wears diamonds and who does not by who has scratches in the screen. either that or a machine shop that uses diamond tipped drills etc.

if it goes in your pocket/purse and you have diamond rings, it WILL scratch it.

enjoy. ;0)

Pecos Bill said...

David, after looking at the iLounge reviews for the BodyGuardz for iPhone 3G vs yours, I picked the BodyGuardz as they said it was clearer.

Putting the front cover on was an absolute breeze. Properly cut out, too. The back, however, was exceedingly difficult. They give you two and by following their directions, I managed to dirty an edge cover so I have the second on the back now. The one thing I really liked about their product is they have several YouTube videos on how to install it. It still took at least two hours due to me being meticulous. Yet, I ended up with two corners that were "folded" so I carefully took a razor to smooth them.

It seems to recognize fingers just as well, too. Overall, I'm happy but I wouldn't recommend setting the phone down as their video said while applying the back.

WeaponII said...

I ended up wasting $20 for the invisibleSHIELD. It wasn't too invisible and I accidentally stretched the protector a bit too much. In fact it covered the entire speaker.

I got one from the Apple store; the Power Support Crystal Film. Five dollars less and much easier to install. You also get two in the pack.

Anonymous said...

David, yes, the screen will work and it's damn near impenetrable. But, be warned, after a certain amount of time, the screen pretty much becomes super glued to your phone and you can't get it off. I'm talking about months here, not days or a couple weeks, but, just be aware of that.


David Alison said...

@S: I ended up pulling it off yesterday in frustration; the thing was really hard to see through and I didn't appreciate it until I removed it. I did buy some DLO disposable shields as replacements to try them out. If that doesn't work out I'll probably just go commando with it.

Anonymous said...

I did this, the tackyness is the sticky side of the film, try it the right way around and it will now work seamlessly.

neorich said...

Pecos Bill said:

"Yet, I ended up with two corners that were "folded" so I carefully took a razor to smooth them."

I'm so glad I read this comment, as I had the same problem on one corner of my iPod Classic after installing the Invisible Shield, which was no where near as tricky as I imagined it would be!

I duly went out and bought a packet of razor blades and carefully nicked the corner in question and the offending bump came off with one slice.

The bump on the corner was irriating me to the point where I was going to take the Shield off and abandon it, but I'm glad I didn't.

The "nicked" corner feels no different from the other corners, as they aren't covered anyway and there's no way to tell it's been "doctored"..

My only other niggle with the Invisible Shield is the length of time we're told it'll take for the bubbles to disappear.

Most of mine DID go in a day or so, but two or 3 smaller ones have remained after a week, though they too are diminishing.

I gather this isn't an unusual experience and I've come across some people who claimed they've taken two weeks or more to go.

I think that ZAGG would do well to emphasize this as I think some people panic and take the thing off before it's had time to cure.

It really does need time to "cure".

What's amazing for me, is that over the days, the thing seems to have merged with my iPod, like some sort of alien implant!


I've showed it to a number of people who haven't even noticed it's there!

So, all in all, it looks great, feels great, my iPod doesn't get scratched every time I look at it, shame on Apple, so far as that goes..

But, more importantly, I can dock it, which I do constantly, in my stereo and don't have to keep taking it in and out of a bulky case to do so..


Guy Adami said...

BE CAREFUL!!!! I just peeled off my invisibleSHIELD from my iPhone last month and they left a residue that is nearly impossible to get off. In getting that residue off, you will ruin the screen you are trying to protect.

One ZAGG was on 8 months, Not if it was the sun, or the heat, or the putting the cover... but getting that this helicopter stuff cling residue off the screens is a nightmare.

invisibleshield offered no help on removing the residue, other than suggesting using water. That did not help.

Ahmad said...

Invisible shield worked well for me for about a couple of weeks before it started peeling. Apparently lifetime replacements meant they would charge for the shipment each time. That costs about $10 for me per replacement.

I've switched to the cheaper option, gadgetshieldz. They shipped for free and it cost me much less. I reckon if I have to change the skin often I'd rather be spending what I can get every time I need it.

Anonymous said...

now if only this technology could be used in condom

Anonymous said...

Wow, I just looked at the dates of this original post, and realize that I'm a couple of years too late.

In any case, I've been covering all my iphones (since the 3G) with ZAGG, and I'm a big believer in their products. The trick is to use the hell out of the magic juice to apply the shield down initially. Yes, that does of course mean a larger risk of getting water into the phone, but if you are careful, then you'll have no problems. BTW, if you run out of the applicator liquid, just use a small drop of dish washing soap or baby shampoo (and I do mean a DROP) and fill the rest with water. You'll probably need to refill in this manner as another trick is to spray the heck out of your fingers with this stuff to prevent leaving fingerprints on the sticky side.

Once you get it on, and you've used enough liquid, then you can slide the film until it fits perfectly. Then squeegee the rest of it out and make sure you have some lint free cloths available to soak up the excess water before getting into the cracks of the button holes, speakers, etc.

My big complaint about this product is that it tends to start peeling up around the edges after an extended period of use, which then allows dirt/lint/dust to get trapped underneath, eventually nullifying any of the tackiness of the film and allow further peeling. But this can be a problem with any "screen protector" but it has happened to every Zagg product I've ever owned.

Other than that, I think these are great products and the film is very clear. Yes, if you hit the light at the right angle, you can see a "rough" film on, but if you view the screen in relatively low light conditions, the screen is crystal clear.

Anyway, I've used Zagg on my phone, and my wife's phone and we've both had few complaints with it.