Tips on applying a screen protector to a mobile device
In my experience after putting on three screen protectors on the Nokia N900 cell phone the biggest problem is dust. I'll do the best job I can with cleaning the screen first, but while if I don't like the result I can try again or try a different technique, once you start putting a screen protector on, pulling it back of has a chance to damage it. It isn't a one shot, but the more attempts you try the less likely you'll get a better result.

tips

  • read the instructions that came with the protector
    If you don't really care about the results, follow those, if you want a better result, keep reading.
  • apply in as dust free of a room as possible
    This last time I shut off the vent to a guest bedroom, put an air purifier with a HEPA filter in for about a week before putting this protector on. I also had the best results.
  • have lots of light shining across it
    This is especially for cleaning to evaluate if you need another try.
  • wash with detergent, rise with wet cloth
    I put part of a dot of detergent on my finger, smear that on, then use the wet/damp cloth to clean and then a dryer part to dry. Never get it wet enough that the water would go inside obviously. The screen protector came with its own cloth and I used that after this step. It didn't do as good of a job of soaking up the water than a cotton hand rag, but it sheds less.
  • try to get it on correctly the first time
    I start at a corner, partly lay the bottom edge down to make sure it is straight and then let it bend into place. I only used the advised credit card with bubbles, otherwise I use fingers or just let it fall into place. The screen protectors have some kind of gel that makes up for surface defects, but it is easy to damage and the more tries the greater chance that will happen.
  • bubbles
    They are generally caused by dust. If it is a bubble outside of the visible screen area, it is probably better to live with it, but if it is inside that's a judgement call of trying again or leave it the way it is. My last attempt resulted in one small bubble outside of the visible screen area, but I was able to put it down on the first try and so that's as good as it gets. So far I've kept the screen area clear of bubbles.
    • apply force, like a credit card to make a smaller bubble
      My experience is this will still have a bubble, it just will be smaller in size. You have to apply force to release the air before the bubble is trapped. Generally this is my preference when it is outside the screen area.
    • pull the protector up and grab the dust off the screen or protector
      These protectors come sandwiched with two layers of plastic (the lower layer is removed before applying it, the upper layer gives a handle which is handy to hold onto, but can be removed at any time), the upper layer also has a little bit of stickyness to it. That can be used to grab a piece of dust like tape, but isn't going to do as much destruction to the gel as tape. I've done it but be careful.
    • pull the protector off, watch it off, and try again
      I found that a very light touch with your fingers, dish detergent, and water smoothly running over it can remove dust particles. I also found that with a smooth flow of water the water tension can pull water drops off the surface to leave it dry for another try. I would use this only for the most desperate situations, it's better to find a less dusty environment.

N900 background
My Nokia N900 Maemo Linux cell phone was purchased back in January 2010. It uses a resistive touch technology and as such the outside surface of the screen is plastic because it requires pressure to deform the screen for touch detection. Since it isn't the hardened glass of other screens I was definitely wanting a screen protector, I didn't even like the feel of the included stylus on the screen. So I ordered a three pack of screen protectors from Accessory Export, LLC specific to the N900 screen. For that last few months the screen has just been looking scratched up and it doesn't come out clean from my pocket wiping it off like it used to anymore, so it was time to use the last screen protector. I'm pretty particular about my displays in general. Some people touch their (non-touch) monitors frequently making it very obvious from the oils and spots on them. Not me, I tell people don't touch my display. I don't clean them frequently, but when I do I leave the pretty spotless.

Written by David Fries <david@fries.net>

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