Three Ways to Protect your Apple Watch (and One Way Not To)

Dr. Mac’s Rants & Raves
Episode #146

 

Soon after receiving my Apple Watch, I set out to find the best ways to protect it. I started by ordering half a dozen different Apple Watch screen protectors from Amazon.com, with prices ranging from $0.66 each (KlearKare) to $14.99 each (Invisible Shield). All of ‘em are self-healing protective film. Some are soft and flexible and require wetting; others are stiff and self-adhesive. Most include a microfiber cloth and a squeegee-like card for removing air bubbles; the flexible films also include a small spray bottle of application solution. While applying the flexible film protectors can be tricky, once you get it on without wrinkles or bubbles — whether flexible or stiff — they stay in place for quite some time.

Sadly, while they may have stayed in place for weeks or months, within a week or two they all began peeling or showing wear along the edges.

The flexible films  this one is from Invisible Shield  all started to peel and look ratty within a few weeks.  The flexible films — this one is from Invisible Shield — all started to peel and look ratty within a few weeks.  

They still protect the watch face while they’re doing it, but it doesn’t look very nice. That said, since most of them are super-cheap, it’s no big deal to replace them when they start looking tattered and worn (or are damaged while protecting your watch). For example, I had a SuperShieldz screen protector ($5.48 for 6 = 0.91¢ each) on last week when I noticed it had cracked. I apparently bumped into something hard enough to crack the (stiff) protector.

This inexpensive SuperShieldz screen protector cracked after an impact, but it left my screen undamaged.

This inexpensive SuperShieldz screen protector cracked after an impact, but it left my screen undamaged.

When I removed it, my watch face was still pristine. That was impressive; the crack in the shield implied that my watch face took a direct hit from something hard and unyielding. In my humble opinion, SuperShieldz (and the other screen protectors I tried) all protected my watch face without interfering with its operation or visibility. The ridiculously low prices should make this a no-brainer if you’re concerned about scratching your watch crystal. I have at least a dozen more of them; when one starts looking ratty I tear it off and apply a new one.

So, with my screen protection needs covered (pun intended), I next looked for a product to protect the rest of my Apple Watch from scratches, scuffs, bumps, and bruises.

The Ultra Thin Case from Griffin Technology is just what its name implies—a very thin, featherweight polycarbonate case that snaps easily onto your watch and protects its shiny parts without affecting its operation. They’re less than $7 each and you get three of ‘em in different colors for $19.99, so in addition to the modicum of protection they provide, they can also serve as a kind of fashion statement.

The Griffin Ultra Thin Case is both thin and fashionable.

The Griffin Ultra Thin Case is both thin and fashionable.

While the cases are so thin they feel kind of flimsy, I’ve yet to lose or damage one after several weeks. If you’re looking for something lightweight, unobtrusive, and stylish, this could be the one.

The CandyShell Fit from Speck Products is a bit thicker and somewhat sturdier than the Griffin cases. Like Griffin’s offerings, it snaps on and off your Apple Watch in seconds. But, unlike the Griffin offering, the CandyShell Fit has a raised bezel that provides additional protection for the screen and is lined with soft, shock-absorbing material for additional impact protection. So while it’s more expensive, it offers significantly more impact protection than the Griffin product (albeit without the fashion component).

Specks CandyShell Fit has a soft lining for impact protection (left) without bulk.

Speck’s CandyShell Fit has a soft lining for impact protection (left) without bulk.

It doesn’t feel noticeably heavier on the wrist than the Ultra Thin, so if you’re looking for something lightweight, but with more protection than the Griffin, this may be the one.

Finally, I tested the Lunatik Epik, a much more expensive option ($139.99) that combines a large cast-aluminum outer shell with a sporty silicone band. It felt heavy and bulky and required a small wrench (included) to put it on or take it off. Within a few days I knew it just wasn’t for me.

Lunatik Epik is bigger, heavier, and much more expensive

Lunatik Epik is bigger, heavier, and much more expensive…

I sent pictures to Lunatik and was told, “Our warranty only covers the EPIK itself not the Apple Watch. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.” But when I removed it, I was horrified to discover that its bare metal interior had scratched the back of my watch.

Lunatik Epik was an epic failure, leaving these scratches on the back of my watch.

Lunatik Epik was an epic failure, leaving these scratches on the back of my watch.

While I recommend the other products I’ve mentioned without hesitation, the Lunatik Epik was an epic failure, scratching the very device it was supposed to protect. Caveat emptor.

Products mentioned:

  • KlearKare. $0.66 each
  • Invisible Shield. $14.99 each
  • SuperShieldz. $0.91 each
  • Griffin Ultra Thin Case. $6.66 each
  • Speck CandyShell Fit. $29.95
  • Lunatik Epik. $139.99

And that’s all he wrote…