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There are hundreds of components within your smartphone that make it run as smoothly and efficiently as it does. But all of that would be for nothing if it weren't for the giant, glorious display. A smartphone's display is easily one of the most important – and most fragile – aspects of modern day pocket computers. Without the capacitive digitizer and large, beautiful, pixel-packed display, smartphones of today would hardly be as exciting, entertaining or useful. We would all be stuck in the era of BlackBerry and left using non-smart styluses on our Windows Mobile devices.

Protecting that big, delicate slab of glass covering your smartphone's display is vital. Break or ruin that and you could render your device useless. Or, even worse, you could slice your fingers to bits trying to save a few bucks not filing an insurance claim or having the device repaired. In other words, the last thing anyone wants is a giant hairline scratch across the face of the device – much less, a huge crack or even a shattered display.

Of course, over the years, many people have come up with a few solutions that make protecting the display relatively easy. First and foremost, cases. While most cases don't cover the display directly, they create a raised edge around the face of the device that acts as cushion if the device is dropped. Then there are also some that do actually cover the display at the expense of usability or comfort to the user.

Nowadays, though, most people simply opt for screen protectors. While screen protectors like the ZAGG invisibleSHIELD or full-body wraps for phones may not protect smartphones against physical damage from, say, a waist-high drop, they do ward off scratches. And they come in several different forms: matte finish, mirrored, privacy and a standard thin see-through film.

The question is: do you (or does anyone you know) use screen protectors on their smartphone?

I got to thinking about this just a few weeks back when I was looking at a friend's phone. He and I both have the HTC One X, but mine was in a case while his was wrapped in a case and it had a screen protector (rather poorly) stuck to the display. I made a comment about how it entirely changed how the screen feels and how it actually altered the way the display looks. He said I was being petty and that he would rather save the display (and maintain resale value) than to risk scratching the display.

We went on about our business – the usual bickering over nitpicky preferences – and I totally forgot about the screen protector debate. Then, randomly, it hit me again over the weekend.

I had just wiped my One X display off before popping the SIM card back in it for a bit and I noticed what I thought was a hairline scratch that stretched across a good 40 percent of the length of the display (top to bottom). I panicked, wiped it down a few more times and immediately had the thought, "I really wish I had used a screen protector this time." Luckily, it was a false alarm and it was just a stubborn streak that didn't want to disappear. (Crisis averted.)

There were, however, several tiny, short scratches all over the display that can only be seen at a specific angle in certain lighting. Nonetheless, it was a close call and the last thing I want to do is scratch the display any more on the One X. Despite being covered by Gorilla Glass 2, scratches still occur and there's nothing you can do about them once they happen.

And now I'm stuck debating whether I should use one of the cheap screen protectors I have laying around that came with one of the cases I ordered, or if I should order a ZAGG invisibleSHIELD. Or should I simply keep the phone as it is, enjoy the beauty and smoothness of the actual glass and run the risk of scratching my display to bits?

Right now, out of my six or more devices that I regularly use, all of them have cases (save for the Nexus 7, but it will soon enough) and none of them have screen protectors. It makes me a little wary how easily some of the displays get scratched, especially considering how gentle I usually am with my gadgets. But for me, it's totally worth the risk to go without screen protectors. I can't imagine covering up such a beautiful display and ruining the feel of the glass. I can't stand sliding my finger over an invisibleSHIELD. The mere thought makes me cringe.

The minute I get a huge, glaring scratch across one of my displays, though, I know I'm going to regret that decision. (It happened last time I owned a Galaxy Nexus, and it took no effort whatsoever.)

So, for now, the One X and all its compatriots are going naked. Tell me, readers. Do you use screen protectors to protect your smartphone's display? Or do you value the extra smooth glass over something that's a little more protective? Screen protector or no screen protector? That is the question. Sound off below.


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