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The Ultimate Guide: How To Protect Your Smartphone From Scratches

smartphone scratchesModern smartphones and tablets have big, beautiful displays. They look great when they come out of the box but they leave a device more vulnerable to both major and minor damage. A drop can shatter the display, though that's rare. Small scratches are a more common problem.

So how do you protect your device from scratches? And do those dang screen protectors really work? Read on to find the answers to these questions and more.

Screen Protectors – Yes, They Work

smartphone scratches

A screen protector is one of the first accessories a smartphone carrier will try to bundle with a new device. You can buy three protectors for the low, low price of $15! Some people will do it without batting an eye but skeptical buyers are bound to recoil in horror. Fifteen bucks for some thin pieces of plastic? That's a joke, right?

While the price may be wrong, the concept is right. Smartphones are meant to resist most scratches and do hold up well in most conditions. They're only scratch-resistant, however. That's different from scratch-proof. Many objects, including small particles of sand or gravel, can harm the screen.

A protector adds a layer of protection that can absorb what might otherwise hurt your display. Most are easy to scratch, but that's okay because they're cheap and easy to replace. Swapping in a new display, on the other hand, is a costly repair.

And you don't have to spend a fortune. High-quality protectors from companies like Zagg, Tech Armor and Aduro can be had for $5 or less on Amazon. You'll almost never find deals like this in retailers because they sell the covers alongside phones and hope buyers will grab some over-priced accessories while they're drunk off the excitement of a new device.

Liquid Armor

One of the most unique methods of screen protection is Liquid Armor. This product, which is sold by a company called Dynaflo, promises to protect your screen without the bubbles or creases that can sometimes plague vinyl protectors. It forms a "nano-shield" which is a fancy way of saying "some gunk that absorbs scratches".

Does it work? Well, just watch the video above for a demonstration. It seems to protect against damage well, though a conventional screen protector would probably perform as admirably. It's usually sold for at least $15, however, which is a lot more than a standard protector. It's probably not worth the cost unless a thin coat of vinyl over your display totally ruins your day.

Making Your Own Screen Protector For Less

protect screen from scratches

If you'd like to save a few bucks you can make your own screen protector. The steps are simple. Just go to your local fabric store, buy the thinnest piece of vinyl you can find and then cut it with a razor blade to fit your screen.

The vinyl usually will cling to the device without the need for additional adhesives, which should be avoided if possible. If you have a case for your phone you can also try securing the vinyl by tucking it into the case. This, however, requires that you be very precise with your measurements.

Protecting Other Surfaces

smartphone scratches

Many devices now have beautiful exteriors that are also susceptible to scratching. The iPhone is the most common example but Android devices can have the same problem.

Let's start with the obvious – a case. If you want to protect against scratches and don't care about anything else you should buy a decent case. It will always be the best protection. But maybe you don't want a case. That makes sense. Smartphones are expensive and attractive, so why hide them?

There are some options. Many companies that make screen protectors also sell vinyl protection for the exterior of a phone. Examples include the Zagg Invisible Shield, Skinomi Tech Skin and Shield Skins. You can easily find these for the iPhone, but they're hard or impossible to find for many other devices.

An invisible case is another possibility. The case isn't really invisible, of course, but it's transparent and designed to obscure the phone's features as little as possible. There's not much to these cases, which means they're cheap and don't provide much protection against drops, but they're a boon if scratches are your main concern.


My advice is simple. Buy (or make) a screen protector. Buy a case. Keep them on all the time and replace them when they begin to show signs of wear like holes, cracks or deep scratches.

That is all you need to do. You might still be in trouble if your phone is attacked by ninjas – but the phone should easily survive everything else with few or no permanent scratches.

Image Credits: Lukas Mathis, Yi Shiang

The post The Ultimate Guide: How To Protect Your Smartphone From Scratches appeared first on MakeUseOf.

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Why The Drawing & Sketching App Paper Won Apple’s iPad App For 2012

The sketch and drawing app, Paper, recently won Apple's 2012 iPad App of the Year Award, and it is very easy to see why. Even if you're not an artist but are a true fan of the iPad, you will want to check out the unique, custom user interface of Paper.

There are dozens of drawing apps in the iTunes Store, but Paper is about as near as it gets to an app that resembles an analog paper notebook. Even if you just want to doodle, Paper's smooth digital ink, and pen and brushes make you feel like an artist. Paper is a free download, which contains the basic features for getting started, and if you want to do more, there are additional in-app purchases.

The User Interface

Paper works in landscape mode only, which of course provides you with a full 2048 x 1536 space for sketching, drawing, doodling, making lists, or diagramming. You navigate the app using finger gestures and tapping.

Paper 5

The app opens with a notebook of instructions that explains many of the features of Paper. When you tap on that notebook, you instantly see why the app is a winner. You can literally use your index finger to "flip through pages" and view its content before fully opening a notebook. Not even Apple's own iBooks app contains this type of magic.

You can tap on an existing or new page, at which point Paper's palette tool pops up so you can immediately start drawing or sketching. There are no distracting buttons and other settings to get in the way.


The free version of Paper includes an eraser, a drawing pen, and a set of color inks to get you started. You can only use one tool at a time, and when you want to undo something you've drawn, you put your thumb and index finger on the screen and rotate them quickly counter-clockwise. And of course you turn them clockwise to redo the last item you removed.

Similarly, you pitch with two fingers to close a page, and pinch again to close an entire notebook. You tap the + button to create a new notebook, and tap the lower case "i" to title the notebook, change the color and style of the cover, or choose a photo from your Photo's library for the cover.

Paper notebooks

Paper can create PDF versions of your notebooks and export them to other supporting iPad apps, including Dropbox, iBooks, GoodReader, iOS Kindle, and the Chrome web browser.

Paper 4

Drawing & Sketching

While you can certainly draw and sketch in Paper using your index finger, you will get better results using a stylus pen. These pens come in various shapes and sizes, and some of them can be quite expensive. I suggest ordering a modestly priced one online to get a feel for how they work.


Learning to draw and sketch with a stylus pen simply takes practice. While Paper can't draw for you, it does make what you draw look artistically beautiful and stylish. The app's custom ink engine makes lines and brushes very smooth and realistic.

Paper doesn't include layering like in Photoshop apps, but you can draw and brush over existing strokes and drawn items. You can even blend colors together for special effects. When the tool's palette gets in your way, you place your index finger at the top edge of the pallet and pull down. You do the reverse to bring the pilot back up.


Paper is useful for sketchnoting, but for me the writing tool is not as effective as in other drawing and notebook apps I've used, such as Penultimate.

While there are numerous similar drawing and sketching apps in the iTunes Store, I highly recommend checking out Paper just for the sheer design and graphic user interface. Paper represents the heights that developers can go to produce quality apps.

Let us know what you think of Paper, and what additional features you would like to see added, if any.