Nomad's tempered glass screen protector is designed for the iPhone 12 with minimal bells and whistles, but nails the core functionality.
Do you even need a screen protector?
Before we explain what is good — or not good — about Nomad's screen protector, we need to convince some of you that your iPhone needs a screen protector in the first place.
We're staunch believers in a minimalist iPhone. Apple does such an outstanding job designing the device that it's a shame to hide it away inside of a case. Yes, there is the chance of a tumultuous drop that leaves our device damaged, but thus far, we've been careful enough to avoid this after years of use.
Yet, we still opt to protect the front of our device with a screen protector. No matter how careful we are, we still end up with micro-abrasions across our phone's screen.
Just putting the phone into your pocket, letting a coin come into contact with it, or even sliding the iPhone in and out of your jean pocket repeatedly will cause tiny scratches that can't be unseen.
It doesn't look like the glass itself scratches, but possibly the oleophobic top coating applied to the glass. Regardless, it doesn't look good and can hurt the resale value of your phone.
Yeah, a screen protector can ensure you don't crack your phone screen, and this alone can save you a ton of money. But for many users like us, it is just an invisible way of making sure our phone stays in pristine shape so that when we upgrade and re-sell or hand down our phone, it looks as good as new.
Simple as can be
For its first screen protector, Nomad chose Japanese glass, which on the surface sounds like a lot of marketing. However, the Japanese glass used is known for being thinner yet just as strong as the thicker Chinese counterparts that are often used.
It is hard to test this (and we aren't about to subject our iPhone 12 to any smashes from a hammer), so we do have to take Nomad's word for this to some degree. That said, it is tempered glass and not just a plastic film, so it inherently has more protective qualities than the cheap plastic films some retailers peddle.
To install, Nomad includes everything you need in the box. That includes:
- The glass screen protector
- Plastic alignment frame
- Microfiber cloth
- Dust removal sticker
- Alcohol wipe
To properly install the screen protector, you wipe down the display with the alcohol pad to make sure any oils or substances are cleaned off. Then the screen is buffed with the microfiber cloth to get it as clean and clear as possible.
Finally, the dust removal sticker is used to clear off any debris that may have found its way onto the glass before applying the screen protector.
Pro tip: In our home full of pets, it seems the air is always full of dust. To help prevent this dust from getting under the glass screen protector, we do the application process in the bathroom after a hot shower.
The steam from the shower helps stop any dust from floating around, and we end up with a clean install every time.
After the screen is cleared off, place the plastic alignment guide around the edge of your iPhone 12, remove the backing on the screen protector, then put it on your device. It will line up exactly where it needs to be, and the backing will do its thing and create a perfectly clear cover on your phone.
There are two major factors for us in determining how usable a screen protector is: touch sensitivity reliability and the sharpness of the edges. Nomad has done an excellent job with both of these.
Perhaps it is because the glass is so thin, but we've had no issues with touch sensitivity at all. It is just as fluid and responsive as our iPhone's screen without a protector.
It even has its own oleophobic coating to repel fingerprints.
The edges aren't fully rounded as we see with other cases, but they aren't sharp either. It creates a nice, smooth transition from the edge to the screen as you swipe up to the Home Screen or back in Safari.
Should you buy the Nomad screen protector?
The real question is whether Nomad's first attempt at a screen protector is a hit or not. We're a little bit split in this case, and there isn't a clear answer.
Nomad has put out a quality product here, and it isn't just a white label product where it bought some off-the-shelf pre-made screen protector and slapped its logo on the box. These were custom cut to perfectly complement its own cases, which is one of the accessory producer's core product lines.
Additionally, this thing is wonderfully affordable. Nomad products usually take a bit of a hit in our ratings for being on the higher end of the price range, yet Nomad's first screen protectors here undercut the competition significantly.
InvisibleShield by Zagg, the titan in this space, offers up many options that are priced at $40 to $60. At $25, Nomad is borderline cheap.
They still are more expensive than the dregs you can find on Amazon that use cheap Chinese glass that is thicker, less touch-sensitive, and don't have the oleophobic coating.
So, by all means, it seems Nomad has a slam dunk of an add-on product here. That said, it also may not be the right choice for everyone.
Nomad's screen protector is a good product, but also the bare minimum. There are no extraneous features or perks to this product in an increasingly crowded space. There's nothing to differentiate itself.
With this screen protector, you don't get blue light filtering to help your eyes. There is no anti-glare option for those who work outside a lot.
The edges aren't blacked out to blend in more seamlessly nor rounded edges. There isn't an antimicrobial coating to help keep it clean. And there certainly isn't an integrated mesh that helps keep debris from gathering in the earpiece speaker.
If you're looking for any of those features, check out the wealth of other options out there. They'll cost you a pretty penny, but they exist.
If you want just a basic screen protector for your iPhone, and a good one at that, then absolutely give Nomad a shot.
- Easy to install
- Includes all tools for install
- Japanese glass that is thinner than many others
- Precision cut for Nomad's cases
- Significantly cheaper than Belkin, InvisibleShield
- Smooth edges
- Bare minimum features
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Where to buy
You can order Nomad's new glass screen protector directly from the company's website for $24.95.