The biggest fear of every smartphone owner is display damage. This can happen even when falling from a small height, and repairs will be expensive. The solution to this problem was proposed by young startups from Düsseldorf.
The founders of the project, Pascal Buchen and Anthony Philipiak, claimed to have created a protective liquid for the display, which protects the screens of phones and tablets not only from scratches, but also from severe damage. It is just necessary to apply “liquid glass” containing nanoparticles to the screen, and after 12 hours of curing of the material, the strength increases by 600%.
Young people presented their project called ProtectPax during the TV show, showing how it works in practice. Very impressively, they hit with a hammer on the treated surface of the screens of smartphones that withstood the force impact. And one of the investors was so impressed that he decided to invest €150,000 in the project, subject to receiving a 20 percent stake in the enterprise.
Perhaps he hastened to invest. When the product hit the market in mid-October, there were reports of legal problems due to overly promising advertising. On this basis, the ProtectPax advertisement, which used the phrase “100% protection against damage and scratches” on the packaging, as well as a symbolic picture where ProtectPax protects against hammer blows, was replaced with a more modest version – without a hammer and with the promise of “easy to use”.
Pseudo-discovery and fake proof
Self-discovery by startups is out of the question, since almost identical products have been on the market for several years: the first videos of such protective coatings for the display appeared on YouTube back in 2012.
CHIP magazine even found a foreign entrepreneur who offered a very similar protection for phones a few years ago, but for lack of success turned to creating other products. He did not want to be quoted by name, but during the conversation he confirmed what we suspected: the demonstrative proof with hammer blows on the TV show is most likely a fake.
But does ProtectPax have any effect at all? We took this protection and three other products with us for comparison to the test center and studied everything to the smallest detail.
For our test, we first used an iPad, of which we coated half of the display with ProtectPax liquid exactly as instructed, and left the other half untreated. After scratching with scissors and a knife, the first impression was simply amazing. The raw side appeared to be less damaged than the ProtectPax coated side.
Scraper and kitchen sponge test
To rule it out, we treated four identical new smartphones with ProtectPax and three other competitor products in the same way we treated the iPad. For the scratch test, we took a professional sclerometer used to test varnishes for wear and scratch resistance.
The device is a 0.5 mm wide tungsten carbide nozzle, which, by means of a spring mechanism, presses with a certain force on the surface under test and scratches it. Our engineers installed eleven stages with a pressure force interval of 3–30 MPa and began to mock the displays. In addition, they rubbed the glass surface on the sand and tried to find out what marks the pressure of 1.5 MPa, created by the rough side of the kitchen sponge, left on the display.
The result was completely different than we expected. None of the four smartphones showed a difference between the treated and untreated side after the scratch test. The entire surface of the displays was damaged in the same way. No screen protector lives up to its promise of keeping the display scratch-free. Of course, we refused to test with a hammer blow.
Cases and real protective glass
We do not rule out that the so-called “liquid glass” protects phone displays from daily damage, for example, keys or coins in a trouser pocket. But it cannot offer effective protection against strong mechanical influences. We didn’t do a drop test, but a thin protective film is unlikely to be a reliable measure against cracking the display if you drop your smartphone.
That is why we suggest the following: Use tried and tested protective films as protection against scratches. For smartphones with a flat display, this is the number one choice. For displays with rounded edges, the film can quickly begin to peel off, in which case transparent display covers are recommended. They are available for all common phone models.
It is better to pay a little more money for these lids made of glass or artificial materials, but buy good protection. As practice shows, cheap products quickly deteriorate. Shock-absorbing covers are suitable from damage when falling: these devices with a protective coating protect the display well. Although before the blows of the hammer they are perhaps powerless.
A PHOTO: manufacturing companies; Fabian Vogl; Getty Images/Iaremenko