Apple loaded the iPhone 13 with a bright and sharp XDR display, but how protected is the screen from scratches and cracks? The super tough glass that protects the screen has received big improvements over the years, so there might be a question over whether a screen protector is still necessary. The iPhone 13 was even shown being dropped and picked up in a video that played during Apple’s announcement event to highlight its durability.
Another measure of durability is whether the iPhone 13 is waterproof. It is, and has an Ingress Protection rating of IP68. The second digit usually gets the most attention since it signifies water resistance. The ‘8’ means that a device can be submerged underwater at a depth of one meter or more. Apple’s latest model has been measured to withstand six meters for up to 30 minutes, which is very good. The first number relates to dust resistance and the iPhone 13’s ‘6’ rating is the best possible, indicating that no dust can enter the device. This is actually fairly standard for a flagship smartphone.
Apple’s iPhone 13 prevents water and dust from getting inside and damaging the components, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that water and dust won’t hurt the outer parts, such as the camera lens, body, and screen. However, water really isn’t a problem as long as it’s clean. Saltwater and pool chemicals might take a toll in the long run if not rinsed off. While most glass can be scratched relatively easily, Apple uses sapphire glass over the camera lenses and has for several years. This is an expensive material, but being impact and scratch-resistant makes it a perfect fit for camera protection. The frame is aluminum which is known to be very durable, even though light scratches can accumulate over time. The glass that protects the screen is Ceramic Shield, which is among the toughest around — equal to or better than the best Gorilla Glass. It’s very hard to break but can still be scratched, so a screen protector is worth considering for those that want to further guarantee the protection of their new iPhone 13.
What Can Scratch Ceramic Shield?
Apple developed Ceramic Shield for the iPhone 12 in partnership with Corning, the company that makes Gorilla Glass. Incorporating tiny crystals of ceramic, aligned in such a way that light can still pass through, this is a very strong material. This same advanced formulation is used for the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro. However, it is still glass and that means it retains the properties that make it prone to scratches. The screen has a Mohs mineral hardness rating between 5 and 6, and just like any glass, it can be scratched by objects that measure at or above 6 Mohs.
That means some gemstones can mark the face of an iPhone 13, as can a harder glass, such as the sapphire glass on the camera lens. More importantly, silicon dioxide, the fancy name for sand, will scratch an iPhone 13 despite the strength of Ceramic Shield. Sand is often a component of dirt, so unless used in a super clean environment, it is probably a good idea to use a screen protector with an iPhone 13.
The good news? Screen protectors for the iPhone 13 are readily available anywhere you look. Apple sells a few iPhone 13 screen protectors directly on its website — ranging from $20 to $45 depending on the model you choose. There are even more choices on third-party sites like Amazon. Whether you want a film or tempered glass screen protector, it’s not uncommon to find ones available for $10 or less. Just make sure you’re buying from a reputable brand, and you’ll be protecting the iPhone 13’s screen in no time at all.
Screen Protector Vs. Case: Which Is Better?
A screen protector, particularly a tempered glass one, can add a vital layer of protection to an iPhone 13’s display. While there have been many instances of people dropping their iPhones and finding the tempered glass protector shattered but the screen intact, the fact is that a screen protector only shields the front of an iPhone. The back of an iPhone 13 is also made out of glass, and is equally prone to cracks and scratches. Using a case is the only real way to protect the back panel. By choosing an iPhone case wisely, the need for a screen protector can be eliminated, if the goal is to protect the display from drops. Of course, it won’t protect your iPhone 13’s display from scratches if it comes into contact with keys or sharp objects.
A good quality iPhone case with raised bumpers at the front can prevent the screen from shattering even when it falls face down on a hard surface. Apple sells several official cases which will do the job, and there are third-party brands like Spigen and Otterbox which are also very reliable. At the end of the day, an iPhone is an expensive investment, and with the cost of repairs going into hundreds of dollars without an AppleCare+ plan, it’s worthwhile adding some extra protection. While a sturdy case by itself can do a fantastic job protecting an iPhone, using both a case and a screen protector on an iPhone 13 is the safest bet when it comes to shatter-proofing your device.