Matte (Anti-glare) vs. Glossy Screen Protector - Photo Comparison and Comments

There are two kinds of modern LCD screens: matte (anti-glare) and glossy. Both have their pros and cons in four major areas, reflection/glare, image quality, smudge/fingerprint, and scratches. In this article, I'm going to run four quick tests to see how much of a difference it really is. I will also express my personal opinions in terms of user experience.

During the test, I applied both matte and glossy screen protector (from my own online store, on a iPad 3. The photos were taken with a iPhone 6 Plus. One thing to notice is that I applied the screen protectors fast and poorly, as I did not clean the iPad screen thoroughly and it won't make much of a difference in these tests.



Matte screen protectors are often called "anti-glare" screen protectors. This is the major reason why people would choose matte over glossy.

First, I took a photo under normal to strong lighting condition. The photo was taken indoor where reflection of surrounding objects is expected. As shown, the matte protector did a decent job blurring out the reflection, while the glossy protector reflected a like a mirror. I felt too much of eyestrain a result of prolonged use of a glossy screen. However, the reflection could be potentially reduced by changing the reading angle. 

Next I took the iPad outdoor where the sunshine was blinding. In this situation, the matte still has an edge over the glossy in terms of glare reduction; however, the advantage is a very slight and it's a bit hard to read through both protectors. I think it's the direct sunlight that blinds you not that reflected off the screen.  


Image Quality

There are two aspects of image quality, clarity and contrast. In this category, matte screen protectors typically suffer less contrast, less brightness, and grainy image. The photo below is taken directly above the iPad and under normal lighting condition. To help identify the difference, there are two viewports with zoomed view.

From the left viewport, you can see the matte screen protector introduces grainy feeling to the image. Contrast is definitely bit off as well, for the left image is just not as sharp as the right one. However, I don't find much of a difference in brightness. I believe this probably goes to the build quality of a matte screen protector.

Lastly, the glossy screen protector is seamlessly in terms of image quality. 



Many of you might not know, a matte screen protector is also more resistive to scratches. I used my butcher knife to slide on the protectors in both strong and weak strength. 

Both screen protectors did not survive the strong cuts; while for soft cuts, the matte screen protector is much more resilient.  



A matte surface is just not as easy to get dirty as a plain (glossy) surface. In this test, I rubbed my normal human fingers (probably a bit oily) on both screen protectors. 

The result is obvious. I can probably use the glossy screen protector as touch ID to unlock my iPhone. 



Overall, matte screen protector wins in three out of four categories. Well, the result is expected. It very much depends on how you distribute the weight over these four categories and how you judge the scale of difference based on the photos above. Personally, I would choose glossy screen protector, since I usually work indoor and watching videos quite often. I do not want to compromise image quality, even if it's off by a little bit.

Go for matte screen protector if you: 1. Don't clean your screen frequently. 2. Often put your device with keys. 3. Prefer readability over image quality.

Go for glossy screen protector if you: 1. Mostly use your device indoor. 2. Really care about image quality (i.e. movie lover, photographer).  




Comments on this post (6 comments)

  • Remove Trojan says...

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    On June 11, 2017

  • I'mMe says...

    My question is, does matte impede finger recognition? The thicker glass screens I notice throws off proximity by a margin, as well some presses not registering. Does matte protectors do the same? Or are they like the glossy film protectors?

    On May 01, 2017

  • Frae Guile says...

    So, I have a question… I currently use an anti-glare/matte screen protector and I noticed that I can barely see my screen with the brightness at 100% (as in that I mainly see my reflection) when:
    • I’m outside BUT in shade (barely sticking my hand out of my balcony door – on 2nd floor of 3 floors)
    • I’m in a well lit indoor room (where I mainly spend my time in my device)

    So, would it better to use a clear/glossy screen protector or continue to use an anti-glare/matte one?

    On August 19, 2016

  • ed says...

    Very useful information. Thanks for sharing.

    On July 17, 2016

  • Hans says...

    Two questions -

    1) I know the glossy one doesn’t block reflections as well as the matte one, but does it at least result in less reflections than a bare screen?

    2) I am thinking about one of these for my touchscreen laptop. Does anyone sell sheets that could be cut to size?

    On March 08, 2016

  • Dale Brindelcuningham says...

    Thank you for this wonderful article regarding matte screen protectors vs glossy screen protectors. I found It very informative- you provide your description in such a compelling manner.

    On February 19, 2016

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