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Ask Arthur

Ask Arthur: Protecting my smartphone’s huge screen

A reader has bought a cheap handset with a big screen, and is worried about damage. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK offers advice.

Q: I just bought a smartphone with a huge screen, because it was so cheap. Now I’m terrified I’ll damage it. How can I protect it?

Big-screen smartphones are becoming more and more affordable, as their prices keep falling. But they are also the phones most likely to end up with cracked screens, because it doesn’t seem to make sense to invest in expensive cases to protect them.

The truth is, you don’t have a choice. Not in terms of buying an expensive case but buying a case and screen protector at all. They are both non-negotiable once you have a large-screen phone. Because of the screen size, and the fact that it usually has less of a bezel – the rim of the phone’s body around the edges of the display – it almost invites damage, from light scratches to serious cracks. Simply putting it in a pocket or purse where you may have put coins or keys you forgot can result in such damage,

But the case doesn’t have to cost close to the price of the phone. Shop around, both online and in low-cost electronics stores.  Make sure you look for a case that has good protection for the corners and edges of the phone, as those can be the most vulnerable areas.

For the main display, a thin plastic screen protector can protect the phone from your basic scratch and cracks. For better protection, look for a screen protector made from tempered glass. It is more durable and protective, but also more expensive, it can also reduce the responsiveness of a screen to touch. 

Cheap big-screen smartphones are also typically not water-resistant, so be careful when using them around pools or other water bodies, or in the rain.

If you cannot afford decent protection, there is one other critical piece of advice: back up your data regularly. Even if you do follow all the rules of protection, the phone can still be damaged. By backing up, you at least protect yourself from losing important photos or documents.

Finally, there is only one fool-proof form of protection: don’t drop your phone!

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