Thursday, December 27, 2012

Clear-Coat Scratch Protection Review for iPhone 4s

I've gone through a number of screen protectors over the past two years (see here and here). Though I think that some are better than others, my advice remains pretty much the same: if you like using protectors instead of cases, buy the cheapest one that you can, because these aren't permanent solutions. The various companies out there offer replacement programs, but truth be told, they're counting on you not bothering to mail in your used protectors in much the same way that rebates anticipate that a certain proportion of the customers never redeem them.

Just as a caveat, though: don't buy the no-name stickers that come in a slim pouch without an applicator kit. These wear out quickly, don't have the same spring-back properties as the big name varieties and aren't as clear. On top of it all, they are terrible to install if you try to apply them in one-go instead of using the wet method.

The most recent product that I've been using with my iPhone has been the Clear-Coat, which I can say has also been the least expense brand that I've come across so far. For roughly $20 CDN, you get a full body kit, whereas larger brands give you only front and back for that price. My first one wore out (more about that later), and my local retailer replaced it with a brand new set for $3. The second set has gone almost half a year and is in good shape.
If there is one thing that I really like about Clear-Coat, it's that their product isn't over-packaged.  Everything comes in a discrete envelope, which unfortunately makes it look like a cheap knock-off.  However, it is more environmentally friendly. Like the iShieldz brand, it comes with an alcohol-based fluid that dries quicker than the Zagg installation fluid, but unlike the other two, the side cutouts have rounded edges to match the buttons and ports on your iPhone. The downside to this is that it's hard to tell which side strip goes where on the phone, as it's not clearly labelled, and you can easily ruin a piece if you have to reapply it.

Side pieces with rounded edges, approx. five months of wear.

The texture is smooth and flat, similar to invisibleSHIELD HD, and does not have the extreme orange peel texture of the original invisibleSHIELD. However, of the three large brands that I've tried so far, my impression is that fingerprint smudges show up on Clear-Coat the most. With the other two brands, a damp cloth will usually clean up the screen. With Clear-Coat, that helps, but it doesn't clean up as well. The best solution for any screen protector that I have found so far is to wipe with eyeglass cleaning fluid, which is an excellent de-greaser.

Surprisingly, Clear-Coat's applicator fluid comes in a glass bottle, not plastic.

As I mentioned, these aren't permanent scratch solutions as they will all wear out eventually. Much of the longevity depends on the installation, if you are patient and careful and line the edges up correctly, you won't have overhanging bits that can attract dust, which will worm it's way under the protector. However, a big factor that gets ignored is heat, either from your body or by being left in a warm car. The adhesive backing on these things will soften when it gets warm enough, and when that happens, the protector can slide around. Not by much, mind you, but enough to cause it to slide over the edge of the phone, creating a vulnerable lip. This happens when you carry the phone in your jean pocket... which I did with my first Clear-Coat because I was on vacation. The heat from your body (probably more if you wear skinny hipster jeans) over a long day will be enough to cause the cover to shift over time, so the best way to make these things to last is to store your phone someplace else, like in a jacket pocket.

So all in all, it's a competent product that looks very good when mounted with care, and it sells at a lower price point than the other brands. 


  • Inexpensive
  • Good cut-outs
  • Good installation kit (fluid)
  • Flat and smooth texture
  • Replacement of worn proectors
  • Applicator bottle is glass, and great for reuse if you need a spritzer
  • Good adhesion to the phone so long as it's kept out of heat



  • Cutouts could be labelled better
  • Smudges show up easier
  • Not as grippy as original invisibleSHIELD
  • Not shock resistant, as with invisibleSHIELD Extreme


  1. I have an OptimusG and I love the feel of glass under my fingers, but i'm too afraid of scratching the surface to not use clear coat for plastic or some other coating. I'll give this stuff a go.

  2. the protector itself is a great product but the person putting it on can make the product seem less great. i had it supposedly "PROFESSIONAL DONE" and it had LINT all over the edges of the lining and lint inside the protector and smudges inside the protector. it is visible to the eye and annoying. they said it will have bubbles and the smudge will go away in 24 hours. i've already had it for weeks since. this is already the second time i had the protector redone. it just seems to get worse everytime i go in and have them redo it.

    1. That's why i always prefer to do it my self. Budget about 30 min, make sure your hands and working surface are clean and take your time between applying pieces.

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