The Samsung Galaxy Watch 5 has a display that is protected by scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, but does that eliminate the need for a screen protector? Alongside the Galaxy Watch 5, Samsung also launched the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro which is made from even stronger materials. For example, unlike the standard version which has an aluminum metal frame, the Pro model has a titanium case, just like the Apple Watch Ultra.
While the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic smartwatches use Gorilla Glass DX+ and Gorilla Glass DX respectively to protect their displays, Samsung decided to use sapphire crystal for the Galaxy Watch 5 and Galaxy Watch 5 Pro, which is stronger and more resistant to scratches. According to Samsung, the sapphire crystal on the Galaxy Watch 5 is 1.6x stronger than the glass on its predecessor. However, it doesn’t mean that sapphire crystal is totally resistant to damage.
Sapphire Crystal Isn’t The Same As Glass
Although sapphire crystal looks like glass, it actually isn’t. The material is artificially made by crystallizing pure aluminum oxide at a high temperature which is then cut with the aid of a diamond saw. Sapphire crystal has the same hardness as naturally-occurring sapphire, but lacks the colors of the naturally-occurring type. On the Mohs scale of hardness, sapphire ranks 9, the same level as ruby, but one level below diamond which ranks 10 on the scale. This hardness makes it difficult, but not impossible, to scratch.
Compared to Gorilla Glass DX/Gorilla Glass DX+ of the Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic which have a yield strength of 15 Gpa (gigapascals), the sapphire glass on the Galaxy Watch 5 has a yield strength of 24 Gpa, while the sapphire glass on the Galaxy Watch 5 Pro reaches 29 Gpa. So while objects such as keys or coins shouldn’t scratch the Galaxy Watch 5, and a great deal of pressure may be required to break it, diamond jewelry or a material with similar hardness will scratch it.
In addition, because sapphire crystal has a higher refraction index than glass, manufacturers need to apply an anti-reflective coating. This coating can wear off or get scratched, so investing in a screen protector can provide protection for the coating. So while a screen protector isn’t essential for the Galaxy Watch 5, those who want to keep the screen in pristine condition might want to invest in one. Samsung doesn’t make screen protectors for the Galaxy Watch 5, but there are several third-party retailers that do.
Galaxy Watch 5 Screen Protector Types
Smartwatch screen protectors come in a few variants, and Galaxy Watch 5 users will need to gauge their requirements before investing in the right one. There are regular tempered glass or film screen protectors that work just like screen protectors for smartphones. When choosing between tempered glass and film, the former is a better choice, given that it’s harder and provides more protection from scratches and drops. The film protector will shield against scratches and not much else. However, film protectors are thinner and less noticeable than tempered glass.
The other type of smartwatch screen protector is a bumper type. Some of these come with an included screen protector, and some without. The bumper fits around the Galaxy Watch 5’s case, preventing the metal from becoming scratched. In addition, bumpers are often raised, protecting the display from impacts such as drops. Those looking for the ultimate protection should invest in a bumper case with a screen protector, but keep in mind that this will add quite a bit of bulk to the smartwatch. Galaxy Watch 5 users who only want drop protection for the screen can invest in a standalone bumper.