Review: Rhino Shield impact-resistant smartphone screen film
By Ben Coxworth
October 27, 2013
It was just a month ago that we reported on Evolutive Labs' Rhino Shield, a 6-layer transparent polymer film designed to protect smartphone screens. Not only is it said to ward off scratches and fingerprints, but it's also reportedly five times more impact-resistant than Gorilla Glass 2. Evolutive recently sent me a testing kit, so I could see first-hand just how tough it is – without endangering my smartphone in the process. Here's how things turned out ...
The testing kit consists of two pieces of Gorilla Glass 2, two Rhino Shield films fitted to those pieces, a block of granite (or something like it – I'm no geologist), a steel ball bearing, and a cardboard box with a built-in 15-cm (6-in)-tall "drop tower."
The idea is that you first drop the ball from the top of the tower onto an unprotected piece of the glass, which is lying on the granite. That glass should break, which is indeed what happened when I tried it. Next, you apply a Rhino Shield film to the other piece of glass, then drop the ball onto it from the top of the tower. This time, the glass should remain intact, which mine did. So far, so good.
Rhino Shield produced a video of more or less the same setup, which we featured in our previous article. One reader commented that it wasn't really an accurate test, as the hard surface upon which the pieces of glass were tested didn't allow them to flex as much as they would if they were part of a phone. With that in mind, I repeated the experiment, this time with a sheet of rubber between the Rhino Shield-clad glass and the granite. Once again, the glass survived.
I was also curious to see if just any old thing would offer the same level of impact protection. As it turns out, two sheets of a cut-up thick Ziplock bag did. A piece of regular anti-scratch film, however, did not. Likewise, clear adhesive packing tape wasn't enough to save the glass from the steel ball.
My two pieces of Gorilla Glass both now thoroughly smashed, the experimenting came to an end.
Evolutive Labs also sent me a piece of the film custom-fit for the screen of a Blackberry Z10, so I could try out the functionality of the product. Putting the film on the phone proved to be pretty easy, although I did have to give it a couple of tries before lining everything up properly. I ended up with a few small bubbles under the film, along with a section along the bottom edge that refused to entirely stick to the glass – that last part, however, was likely due to my botched first attempt at aligning the film with the screen. Additionally, other protective films offer up the same sort of challenges.
Once applied, the Rhino Shield appeared to have no noticeable affect on the appearance of the phone's display (the polymer has a transmission rate of over 95 percent), and touchscreen functionality likewise seemed to be unchanged. Although some particularly greasy fingerprints did show up on the film's outer surface, there were certainly far less than would accumulate on an unprotected phone.
Additionally, the film left no gunk behind when it was subsequently peeled off the screen.
Needless to say, there are plenty of other things that could have been done in order to truly test the Rhino Shield, if more pieces of Gorilla Glass were available – in particular, it would have been good to see how much protection it offers to a dropped phone that lands on one corner. Nonetheless, my tinkering was certainly enough to convince me that a phone with Rhino Shield on it is definitely better off than one without.
Prices range from £17.99 (US$29) for a smartphone-sized film (users can select the proper make/model when ordering) to £25 ($40) for a film that fits a tablet.
Product page: Evolutive Labs