We test a "bulletproof" iPhone screen protector. With a gun. And bullets.
Screen protectors: don't use 'em, don't want 'em, don't need 'em. I've been rocking a naked smartphone since 2007, and I don't ever anticipate changing. And yet the screen protector PR pitch that landed in my inbox last week proved difficult to resist:
Subject: Preview the bulletproof iPhone?
On March 18, Sir Lancelot's Armor will announce the first reusable screen protectors for iPhones and iPads made of bulletproof glass....If interested in getting a sample to use or test, please let me know the model and color of your iPhone.
The only word I needed to hear was "bulletproof." I quickly replied, and the fine folks at Sir Lancelot's Armor overnighted me two review samples of their "Holy Grail" screen protector.
I was expecting to receive some kind of massive Otterbox-like tank in the mail, but instead I got a couple of very fancy boxes containing a credit card-thin piece of iPhone-shaped glass: a screen protector, plain and simple.
Faintly visible in the glass is a matrix of tiny dots. They're pretty apparent in bright sunlight.
According to the company's press kit, the word "bulletproof" is used because the screen protector is made from "tempered bulletproof glass." It's important to note that (subject line of the PR e-mail notwithstanding) the press materials don't actually say that the screen protector itself is bulletproof—only that it's made out of bulletproof glass. I'm sure that in sufficient quantity the glass is bulletproof, but the question I was excited to answer was whether or not the Holy Grail screen protector could stand up to live fire.
Because I'd received a pair of the things, I decided that before I subjected the Holy Grail screen protector to the gun range, I'd first see how well it did against some common household items—keys, screwdrivers, hammers, and so on.
Video 1 of 2: Around the house
Testing the Holy Grail armor with a few common household items—and my car.
The Holy Grail's tempered bulletproof glass didn't stand up very long to my screwdriver attack, and further abuse led to further damage. However, there is one extremely important thing to note in the above video: for all the cracking and brokenness of the screen protector, the iPhone's screen itself is fine. The screen protector absorbs the punishment and fractures, but it saves the iPhone from damage.
Enlarge / At first, the screen protector appeared to have kept the iPhone's screen from harm. However, When viewed at an angle with more light, cracks in the actual LCD screen beneath the glass became apparent. Still I ran over it with a car. A screen protector's not going to help much with that.
Well, mostly, anyway. I think running over it with my car damaged the LCD beneath the glass, as demonstrated in the picture above. But the surface of the screen is undamaged.
Video 2 of 2: On the range
Of course, I couldn't let a "bulletproof" claim stand without challenge. Al Trug and the Clear Creek Gun Range graciously agreed to let me come in before regular hours on a weekday morning and mount the second Holy Grail review sample up on one of their targets, this time affixed to my friend Matt's old iPhone 4.
It quickly became apparent that the Holy Grail was not, in fact, bulletproof.
Can the Holy Grail's tempered bulletproof glass stop a bullet? No.
There were just too many good pictures not to share.
My first round was a little right and knocked the thing off the stand—and also blew a hole through the screen protector and out the back of the iPhone. So in case anyone was wondering if iPhones are bulletproof, we've also managed to answer that question at the same time. They are not.
We remounted the iPhone and took another half-dozen shots at it before once again blowing it off of the stand; I shot at it on the ground a few more times for good measure. By the time we were done, there wasn't a whole lot left of the phone. At that point, Matt let it slip that it was actually his wife's phone. (Carla, I'm sorry that I destroyed your phone. It's Matt's fault. He said I could.)
Enlarge / There wasn't much left when we were done
What have we learned from this?
The Sir Lancelot's Armor Holy Grail screen protector is a great screen protector. It's easy to apply without any bubbles, and it can be removed and reused without issue. It's quite good at protecting your phone from the kind of abuse it might receive in a purse or pocket or backpack.
It is not bulletproof. Not even a little bit.