You might want a screen protector ASAP on your new iPhone 12, because I scratched mine immediately

PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn

If you’re an owner of the new iPhone 12 or iPhone 12 Pro, congrats! They’re genuinely great smartphones, and that revamped design is pretty sweet. I’m all for better grip on the flat edges, and they just feel good in the hand.

That better grip should be able to reduce the chances of the phones slipping out of your hands, especially for those of us predisposed to clumsiness. And you certainly don’t want to drop them, because the screens on the new phones seem to be (from my own experience anyway) fairly susceptible to scratches. 

Some context, first. In the process of unboxing the review units to take some first-impression pictures, I might have left some micro scratches on the display of the iPhone 12 Pro. Which is a wee bit painful to bear, considering I had not even turned on the device at the time. 

Anyway, this was what must have caused the scratches. I let the two phones sit on top of each other — the iPhone 12 on top of the iPhone 12 Pro — to take this picture below. To showcase those flat rails and all. 

PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn

But while adjusting the two phones to sit flush on top of each other, I must have inadvertently scuffed the iPhone 12 Pro’s screen with the iPhone 12’s rear camera bump. My bad, I must admit. 

But then again, I didn’t expect the screen to be defaced that easily. After all, one of Apple’s big focal point for their new phones is that they’re covered in a brand-new type of glass they dub “Ceramic Shield”. The marketing materials noted that it’s the toughest glass ever on a smartphone thanks to a combination of glass and ceramic crystals that’s four times more resistant to damage from drops. 

PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn

While I haven’t dropped the iPhone 12 Pro (yet), it seemed to have already sustained some surface damage that can’t be removed with the usual remedy of buffing them out with toothpaste. Sure, the scratch lines on my unit are kinda small and not super-noticeable when in use, but what a pity to have blemished the excellent OLED display fresh out of its box. 

I’m not the only one surprised, though. Tech YouTuber Marques Brownlee also noted that his own iPhone 12 already has some gashes on its screen and he has no idea how that happened. He brought up an interesting point though — scratch resistance is inversely proportional to shatter protection. The softer something is, the more resistant they are to shattering, but the downside is that they’re easier to scratch. 

PHOTO: Screengrab/YouTube/MKBHD

That’s not to say that the Ceramic Shield isn’t tough — it managed to hold its own in real-world break and scratch tests. Tech channel MobileReviewsEH recently put the iPhone 12 through the gauntlet of durability, and apparently, its screen was a lot more scratch-resistant than what Brownlee or I faced. 

Things like coins, pebbles, keys and even a box knife didn’t manage to scratch the iPhone 12 screen, so having the phone in your pocket should be reasonably okay. Dropping a bare iPhone 12 from a three-metre height, however, will break that display screen

But in any case, the little scuffs on my freshly unboxed iPhone 12 Pro should serve as a precautionary tale for owners of the new iPhones (or any other smartphone, for that matter). Screen protectors are your friends. 

ilyas@asiaone.com