It is a good idea to install a tempered glass screen protector on your iPhone. Apple’s latest iPhone Pro models are protected by a ceramic shield, making them tougher than ever. But even when kept in a purse or pocket, they can get scratched over time. Keys, alterations and other items can take their toll. Replacing that display if it gets frustratingly scratched or you drop the phone and break it isn’t cheap. For the iPhone 13 Pro Max, a screen repair through Apple will run you $329. What happens when your screen protector itself gets scratched, cracked or scratched, though? It’s designed to adhere firmly to your iPhone display and is an ultra-thin layer of glass, so how do you remove it without making a big mess or cutting yourself?
After many years of iPhones—and my kids have iPhones—I have it down to 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 is cracked or broken into multiple pieces. Here are the steps to remove the screen protector.
The key is taking your time. You don’t want to break the glass protector by speeding up the process and you also don’t want to scratch your iPhone.
A word of caution. If your iPhone’s display is also broken (for example if you dropped it and broke both displays And screen protector), it is better that you take it to a professional repair center. When that protective layer comes off, there are going to be surprisingly small pieces of glass and if the display needs to be replaced in any way, you can let a pro handle the whole job.
1. Briefly heat the iPhone with the hair dryer on the low heat setting. Not all screen protectors require this step, but I find it helpful. A slightly lower heat for 15 or 20 seconds helps loosen the adhesive, making it easier to remove the glass. However, do not use the high heat setting. You don’t want to cook your iPhone.
2. Use the pointed end of a wooden toothpick to work carefully down one corner of the glass. As you are doing this, point that pointed point towards the glass, not the display.
3. When you can lift a corner with a toothpick, slide in the credit card.
4. Lift the credit card around the perimeter of the phone and towards the center of the screen, lifting the screen protector as you go. Do not try to shake the glass before it becomes completely loose or it may break. If the screen protector has been broken into multiple pieces, follow the same method, dealing with one piece at a time and taking care not to cut your fingers on the sharp edge.
5. Lift the screen protector off carefully and dispose of it safely.
6. Clean the phone display to remove any traces of adhesive. You can use a pre-treated screen cleaning cloth, or a microfiber cloth dipped in a solution of water and vinegar.
7. Replace the screen protector with a new one. If the old one is scratched, broken, or otherwise worse for wear, it’s doing its job. All those fights could have happened on the actual display of your iPhone!
While these instructions are specific to an iPhone, the same method should work if you need to remove the tempered glass display from a smartphone or from an iPad.