Ask LH: How Can I Apply A Screen Protector On My Phone Without All The Bubbles Or Debris?

Ask LH: How Can I Apply A Screen Protector On My Phone Without All The Bubbles Or Debris?

Dear Lifehacker, I know that it’s a good idea to keep a screen protector on my phone, especially if I want to sell it later to offset the price of my upgrade. The problem is, there are a lot of protectors to choose from, and even after I’ve got one, how do I apply it without messing it up? Signed, Needs Protection

Dear NP,

A lot of people use screen protectors on their mobile device these days. One of the most common questions people have is ‘‘what is the best way to apply them?’ This question is also followed quickly by, “How do you keep thing from getting stuck to the bottom when you are putting them on?” The video demonstration above answers both question. But first, let’s start with the basics.

What are screen protectors and what are they good for?

Screen protectors come in many different shapes, sizes and styles. It seems that no matter what type of device, be it tablet, iPhone, Android device or feature phone there is a screen protector you can pick up to help keep the screen looking new.

Screen protectors in the general sense are mainly used to protect the screen from scratching, however they have evolved into other uses as well, including screen privacy, and anti-sticky stuff (fingerprints, makeup, etc). But how do you choose the right ones for you?

What types of screen protectors are there?

Regular Screen Protectors:

  • Usually the lowest cost and come in the largest number per pack.
  • These are basic screen protectors, mostly used for scratch protection.
  • Don’t really repel anything since they are just as glossy as the device’s screen is.
  • Don’t last a really long time unless they are well taken care of, since this is the case, they usually have 3 or more in a pack.

Privacy Screen Protectors:

  • Privacy screen protectors are usually thicker then most other screen protectors and are either reflective like a mirror or have a texture to them that blocks view from any angle unless looking at it directly.
  • These are often a bit harder to apply because they are not as pliable, but it completely depends on the brand and thickness.
  • Offer scratch protection as well privacy for your browsing security.
  • Textured types can also be anti stick, but mirrored are the worst for repelling fingerprints and other things due to the ultra smooth and reflective style.
  • Fairly expensive for the amount you get, usually come in a pack of one or two.
  • The thickness can often lead to peeling from the edges when they get stuck on things like your pocket, purse, etc making them less desirable for longevity.

Anti-Glare Screen Protectors:

  • Depending on the brand and quality, cost can be higher, and usually come in packs of two.

    Not too thick which makes them easier to apply.

  • Great for repelling fingerprints and other sticky substances.

Now that we understand what screen protectors are and they different types, we can learn what you all want to know… application. Check out the video at top if you haven’t already for a step-by-step guide.

Hope that helps!

Cheers Lifehacker


  • I have stuffed up a few screen protector installations in my time. It can be time consuming and painstakinly annoying to get the fluff off the screen and get the bubbles out.

    However, I then discovered a product called gadget shieldz – no promo here!! The product was cheap and shipped from India (scary) but when it arrived I was quite impressed.

    What impressed me the most were the installation instructions.

    Needed: One empty spray bottle (small one found in two dollar shops). Add one drop of washing liquid and fill with water. It is important not to use too much soap! It’s my understanding that this tiny bit of soap helps to remove some grease on the screen and helps the protector stick.

    Next – use a lint free cloth under a good light to thoroughly clean the screen.

    When all fluff is gone, spray water mix onto your fingers and a little over the screen.

    Peel off screen protector and with wet fingers place onto screen into a best fit. Don’t worry if it isn’t perfect as the water on the screen will help you move the protector around.

    Once in place, use a credit card and a tissue to push out the water. Keep using the credit card to push out all air bubbles.

    Leave phone for 24hrs (I leave mine under a warm lamp over night), then viola, it is done.

    Here is the link

    There are also youtube vid links to show you how to do it.

    Don’t flame me about putting water on the screen. The key is only ONE OR TWO small sprays from the bottle. It acts as a kind of lubricant.

    Also, I only apply the screen protector – not the whole body protection.

    Anhyoo, I have done this several times without a problem now. Screen protector lasted over a year and still going strong.

  • Or get the guy who sells them to do it for you. Seriously – I went to my local shopping centre, found one of those phone case sellers, bought the protector and they put it on then and there. They have done it hundreds of times and took this kid 5 minutes.

  • I have to suggest trying a dusty-free environment. If you’re a geek – the server room is the best place to apply these screen protectors.

    Otherwise, take it to a well-airconditioned shopping centre. Probably a good idea to try putting it on at the place you bought it in fact!

  • The best screen protector I had was this one that was like a rubbery film, it kind of reminded me of car window tint except it was completely clear. I got it done in a shopping centre (mall) in the US and it was smudge proof and never scratched because it was rubbery. Then my phone (nokia n97.. surprise surprise) had to go get repaired and they gave me a new phone sans film 🙁

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