Whether your phone is new or its seen a bit of wear there will come a time when you need to install a screen protector. You can hit your local retailer or kiosk at the mall and have someone install a 50cent protector and have them charge you $10 or you can do it yourself in about 20 minutes.
Ok so the title of this guide is going to be a bit to live up to but I’m sure with the right preparation we will get through this with really great results. Just remember that anything you do shouldn’t damage your phone and if worst comes to worst you can always get someone to do it for you.
The first thing that you have to do is purchase your screen protector. I suggest that you pick up a pack of 3 or 5 just in case you make a mistake and so you will have extra ones for later. Both Amazon and Ebay are good places to look for screen protectors. They come in a variety of different styles and materials. In another how to we go over the different types of screen protectors and which one might be right for you. For this install I am going to apply a transparent screen protector without anti-glare features. I find anti-glare is great for people who work outside most of the time but for everyone else you want no apparent change visually to the screen.
Some screen protectors are more generic than others. I chose one that is custom cut and as you will see the cutouts on the top come pretty close to the camera. Also you can expect that your screen protector that fits the entire surface like this one does may need some trimming. I had to trim this one at the bottom of the phone because it was just a tiny bit big. Cutting at the bottom was the best result because the shape was uniform and would allow me to move the screen protector down on the screen just slightly to give more room to the camera lens.
Unfortunately cutting the protector meant cutting off the installed tabs that allow you to remove the protective sheets that must be removed. This is not a problem though because you can use scotch tape and make your own tabs.
Preparing to instal The Phone Screen Protector
The most important thing about installing a screen protector is getting everything clean and making sure that no dust gets between the protector and the surface of the phone screen.
The first thing you want to do is pick a clean room. Maybe your kitchen table or another place that doesn’t have a lot of stuff around that can collect dust. Even the bathroom might be a good place but particles that come off the toilet paper can get into the air and on surfaces. Next you want to clean the area you will be working on. Use some wet paper towels and dust the area. Wet paper towels will not kick up dust while you’re cleaning. Finally I am using a sheet of copy paper to work on because its fresh and won’t kick dust onto the phone. Don’t use something like paper towels or a cloth towel that hold dust. Yeah its a bit much but really its about 3 minutes work and it will pay back many times over.
You will want to have a lot of light when working. I am working in the day with a moderate amount of light but I am also using two LED Flashlights that shine across the surface of the phone so I can see every piece of dust. Working in bright sunlight might work well too as long as its not so bright to be distracting.
Get everything together. You will need your phone with its case removed and your screen protector that should have come with a microfiber cloth for cleaning.
Next you want to wash your hands to remove most of the oils that will cause smudges.
If your phone has a lot of grease built up on it you want to wipe it down with a slightly moist piece of toilet paper not a kitchen paper towel that could scratch the surface.
Blow all the dust off the phone with an Air Duster and make sure you get into all the cracks and crevices around the screen. If you don’t have great eye sight this is the time to put on your glasses.
We will be using the hinge method to apply the screen protector to the phone so you will need some scotch tape. I am using the matte finish tape which seems to be a bit less sticky than the plain clear tape. You don’t want to leave glue behind.
Getting Started Installing the Screen Protector
If you need to trim your screen protector this would be the time to do it. Using sharp scissors is probably going to work better than trying to cut it with a utility knife.
Once the protector fits the screen correctly use two pieces of tape to position it. Apply them to the long side of the screen and double check your results.
Next you will need to fold back the screen protector gently and remove all of the dust from the surface of the screen and from the screen protector. Don’t forget to dust the screen protector because once you pull off the film backing dust may adhere or get on the surface of the screen.
Now gently fold the screen protector back into place. If everything goes right it should fit exactly. Before you press down and remove the air bubbles double check the fit. If it is not fitting exactly right you can still pull it up but it is a difficult process we will cover in a moment.
If everything went well work your way from the center of the screen out to the edges and press the protector down firmly.
Air bubbles should be rubbed to the edges that are the closest.
You can now remove the top layer of protective film.
Most likely you will see new bubbles you will need to work out. Use the Microfiber cloth to do this not a card or your fingernail.
If you can not get a bubble to work out then there is likely dust between the screen protector and the phone screen. You will have to remove it by pealing back the screen protector then inserting a piece of scotch tape with its sticky side to the protector.
Actually as soon as you see dust that needs to be removed you should stop rubbing the protector because you will have to remove it. Make sure the other areas are attached well though because you will rely on them to retain the positioning of the protector as you peal it back.
This is where I will explain how to remove the new screen protector if you had it mispositioned or need to remove dust.
To pull the screen protector away from the surface of the phone you will need to apply scotch tape directly to the screen protector not just the film that is on top. This means if you mispositioned your screen protector you will need to pull back the protective film and apply tape directly to the screen protector.
If you are lifting up a corner or area because there is dust under it that you need to remove then make sure you only pull up the area needed. Less is better because you want to keep the alignment of the protector on the phone if it is fitting well.
The tip of a utility knife can help in this situation but you have to be extremely careful not to scratch the surface of your phone or damage the edge of the screen protector.
Once you have the dust out by tapping on the under side of the protector with a piece of scotch tape reapply the protector and rub out all the air bubbles.
Misalignment and Dust are the worst parts about this procedure.
The actual application of the protector once you have pealed off the protective film backing only takes a few seconds but for it to go well takes a lot of preparation.
If you mess up the alignment you should give repositioning it a try but if your fingers come in contact with the sticky bottom side of the protector you might as well start over.
If you have one or two small pieces of dust it is possible to peal back the protector and keep its alignment but you have to be careful doing this so you don’t damage the protector or touch the sticky underside.
Once you get the air bubbles out you will be seriously impressed with your work. The first time you get it right you wonder why you ever paid anyone to do it for you but the thing is someone who does it 20 times a day for months or years knows exactly how to do it and there are still times when getting a professional to do it for you is the best idea.
Personally I would never try applying one of the $25 tempered glass protectors myself. First they are $25 and you aren’t about to pick up a pack of 5 of them so you can practice and throw away the first three. Second you want that done right so the cost is probably worth it if you can justify using one in the first place.
And remember you should expect to waste a few the first time you do it. Seriously if you get lucky the first time then you will waste the next 20 when you do it again.. not really but beginners luck does matter as does making sure everything is perfectly clean and aligned before you pull off the film that exposes the sticky side.
If you feel you need to take a break while doing this especially after ruining one then do it. The phone will still be there and you will be more prepared.