• Ryan M. Pierson

Will a Screen Protector Make Touch Screens Not Work?

LockerGnome reader David asks, “I want to get a screen protector, but will the plastic that goes over the screen prevent me from using touch features? Won’t the sensors not be able to detect my finger?”

Screen protectors made for touch devices typically don’t have any effect on a touch screen’s functionality. In fact, some screen protectors actually enhance this feature. There are two primary types of touch screens used in mobile devices today, and while each one responds to different stimuli, neither are generally affected by a thin screen protector.

Many touch screen devices out there use multi-layer skins that carry a charge between them. Once you apply pressure, these layers make contact with one another, causing a change in the expected condition. This change is picked up through sensors either at the corners of the screen or throughout, resulting in a registered contact. This kind of screen is known as resistive, and is commonly found in devices used in environments where the user is likely either wearing gloves or using a stylus. In most cases, they feel slightly squishy compared to capacitive screens.

Capacitive screens are firm and made of either a hard plastic or glass. They are coated with a conductor that responds to contact with another electrical conductor. This kind of touchscreen gives a faster, more accurate response than that of the resistive technology, though it becomes greatly unreliable when used through gloves or with a stylus. Over time, capacitive screens evolved, allowing multi-touch operations that are used today in phones like the iPhone and other modern smartphones.

In short, an extra protective layer provided by a screen protector isn’t going to cause any significant amount of change in how the screen actually works.

Screen protectors made for capacitive screens are made out of a material that allows the transfer of electrostatic energy between the user and the device. As long as you find a screen protector made for your device, or class of devices, then you should be absolutely fine.

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©2020 by Ryan Matthew Pierson.