Installing a tempered glass screen protector on your iPhone is a good idea. Apple’s latest iPhone Pro models are protected by Ceramic Shield, making them tougher than ever. But they can still get scratched over time if slipped into a purse or pocket. Keys, change, and other items can wreak havoc. Replacing that screen if it’s hopelessly scratched or you drop the phone and break it isn’t cheap. For the iPhone 13 Pro Max, a screen repair via Apple will cost you $329. What happens when your screen protector itself gets scratched, cracked or scuffed? It’s designed to adhere firmly to your iPhone screen and it’s an ultra-thin layer of glass, so how do you remove it without doing more damage or cutting yourself?
After many years of iPhones – and my kids have iPhones – I pretty much have this as a science. It’s easy, it only takes a few minutes and you don’t need any special tools. Just a wooden toothpick, a credit card and a hair dryer. The same process works with an intact screen protector and one that has been cracked or broken into multiple pieces. Here are the steps to remove the screen protector.
The key is to take your time. You don’t want to break the glass protector rushing the process, nor do you want to scratch your iPhone.
A word of warning. If your iPhone screen is also broken (for example if you dropped it and broke both the screen and the screen protector), you’d probably better take it to a professional repair center. When this protective layer comes off there will be a surprising number of tiny shards of glass and if the screen needs to be replaced anyway, you might as well let a professional do all the work.
1. Briefly heat the iPhone with a hair dryer on low heat. Not all screen protectors require this step, but I find it helpful. A little gentle heat for 15 or 20 seconds helps loosen the adhesive, making it easier to remove the glass. Don’t use a high heat setting, though. You don’t want to cook your iPhone.
2. Use the pointed end of a wooden toothpick to carefully work under one of the corners of the glass. As you do, keep that pointed tip angled toward the glass, not down toward the screen.
3. When you are able to lift a corner with the toothpick, insert a credit card.
4. Work the credit card around the perimeter of the phone and towards the middle of the screen, lifting the screen protector as you go. Do not attempt to remove the glass until it is completely loosened or it may break. Follow the same method if the screen protector has been broken into multiple pieces, tackling one piece at a time and taking care not to cut your fingers on a sharp edge.
5. Carefully remove the screen protector and dispose of it safely.
6. Clean the phone screen to remove all traces of adhesive. You can use a pre-treated screen cleaning cloth or a microfiber cloth soaked in a solution of water and vinegar.
7. Replace the screen protector with a new one. If the old one is scratched, cracked, or worse for wear, it’s done its job. All those scratches could have been on your real iPhone screen!
Although these instructions are specific to an iPhone, the same method should work if you need to remove a tempered glass screen from any smartphone or iPad.