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You can (and probably should) remove the horrible factory-fitted Xperia Z3+ screen protector

Back in the darkest depths of smartphone history — around mid-2013 — using a Sony flagship involved peering at its dazzling high-res display from the other side of a frustrating fixed screen protector. Sony's "anti-shatter film," used in most Xperias until the Xperia Z2 felt cheap and nasty, and scratched more easily than the glass that it covered. Worse still, forcibly removing it stripped the screen of its oleophobic coating — as this was applied to the film, not the glass — meaning the exposed screen would soon get gunked up with fingerprints.

It was a bad thing that deserved to go away.

So as the Xperia Z3+ starts to go on sale in Europe, buyers are unboxing the device to find yet another pre-fitted screen protector staring back at them. The old anti-shatter film hasn't returned from its grave, however, and this isn't the same type of screen protector you'd find stuck to an Xperia Z or Z1. In fact, it's more like the optional plastic screen protectors you'd find boxed with an Xperia Z2 or Z3, only pre-applied to the phone.

First things first — we should point out that the phone's manual advises against removing the screen protector:

At purchase, there are two sheets of plastic film on the front of your device. You can peel off the outer sheet of film when you start using the device. It is not recommended to peel off the second sheet of film as it protects your screen from damage and scratching.

That's all well and good. If you were planning on using a screen protector anyway, then Sony just saved you the trouble of applying one. For sure, it'll stop your shiny new screen from getting scratched up.

But here's the thing: The factory-fitted screen protector is just bad — really bad. In addition to feeling like the very chintziest of chintzy plastic, it has basically no oleophobic qualities whatsoever. The second you start touching or swiping, it's fingerprint city. It's also notably more reflective than the glass underneath, making it harder to see in daylight.

Protecting the screen shouldn't come at the cost of making it look and feel crappy.

Sony has confirmed to Android Central that the Z3+ has a "factory-fitted protective film," but isn't saying any more than that. In the meantime we just decided to peel the cursed thing off our unit. We found that the film peels away just like any aftermarket screen protector, with a fingernail in one of the corners and a very minimal amount of effort. It's not stuck down with heavy-duty adhesive like the anti-shatter film from the Xperia Z1 and earlier Sony phones. And the glass beneath it has its own oleophobic coating, so you don't need to worry about smudges either.

When you buy a new smartphone, you want to keep it in top condition for as long as possible — especially the screen, which is its primary input and output device. But for us, it's just not worth it when protecting the screen comes at the cost of making it look and feel crappy. (And frankly, it's a concern that many users won't even realize that removing it is possible.) That's why we'll be using the Z3+ as nature intended, with no tacky plastic between our fingers and the display.

We'll have more to say on the Xperia Z3+ in our full review. Stay tuned.

Alex Dobie
Alex Dobie

Alex was with Android Central for over a decade, producing written and video content for the site, and served as global Executive Editor from 2016 to 2022.

25 Comments
  • Shoot....and all this time I thought my Z3 Compact was protected against my keys in my pocket. Ignorance WAS bliss. Thanks Alex.
  • Amazing...they put "gorilla glass" on these things, because it is suppose to protect the screen from scratches, but they place a film over the screen
    to protect it from scratches.
  • It's kind of like the plastic some people put over furniture. Your protecting the furniture but you don't get to enjoy it as intended.
  • Sony does not use Corning's glass, they use much cheaper glass from no-name supplier...
  • The Z3 actually uses GG3, on both sides of the phone. Notice I said Xperia Z3. I didn't say Z3+, but given that it's the same phone, it should be made out of the same stuff.
  • I wouldn't be sure about that. Sony does NOT list the fact that they use Corning's products anywhere on their official site or their documents, for either Z3 or Z3+, neither does Corning themselves (you might read some posts in some forums from "Sony representatives" claiming that Sony does use it but they also cannot provide any proof). The Z3 devices were also prone to glass shattering, there are plenty of posts on XDA and Reddit made by many unfortunate owners who have experienced it (together with photos of shattered displays) and I don't think any other Corning glass-using smartphone manufacturer has experienced the same issue (very fragile glass) recently.
  • That's odd. I remember reading up that the Z3 uses GG. Posted from the superb LG G4
  • The Sony website just lists it as "Durable Tempered glass"
    http://store.sony.com/xperia-z3-lte-zid27-M/XZ3D6603/cat-27-catid-All-Un...
  • Z3 and newer is Gorilla Glass, but the older models with the anti-shatter film, like the Z1, used "Dragontail" glass. It's fairly popular, but doesn't have the brand recognition of Gorilla Glass.
  • Will Zagg offer their glass screen protector for the z3+? If so, that might be a better option after ripping off the cheap one Sony provides.
  • If the Z2 and Z3 had oleophobic coatings, they seemed very ineffective on my units. Those phones collected a lot more fingerprints than my other phones. it was a fairly major problem because of the glass on both sides. The phones would look gross most of the time.
  • I remember one of those on an Xperia Play I got I think. I thought I was scammed and got a refurbished one or something because I never would have thought it would come from the factory like that. I do have to say it is the best applied screen protector I have ever used. No bubbles or dust under it. Too bad they don't use something a little bit better for finger prints.
  • It looks like they've done the same to my Z4 Tablet as well. There's a really bubbly, rough textured protector which I haven't peeled off yet. I'm hoping to find a naked screen underneath. Wish me luck! Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'd stick a good Gorilla Glass screen protector on it anyday of the week. I'm sick and tired of the plastic crap.
  • Sony never ceases to amaze with their horribly inept engineers... The "new" Z3+ is not only prone to overheating due to aggressive stock CPU frequency (https://www.androidpit.com/xperia-z3-plus-camera-crash) but it seems they are back to their worthless "screen protectors"... Sure, you can remove them but the FACT that you already paid for them still remains.
  • For my LG G4, I decided not to get those crap plastic screen protectors (they should be called screen films since they really only protect your screen from scratches but are ultimately worthless when your phone drops face flat on asphalt). I instead got a tempered glass one that doesn't affect touch sensitivity. It feels great and touch sensitivity is totally unaffected. Best of all, if I drop it and the screen 'cracks', only the protector is cracked. The screen itself is undamaged.
  • Agreed! Everyone deserves a screen protector made of glass. Most are only 0.2 to 0.3mn thick. Mine is 0.4mm. --shirtpocketable 6.44-inch Sony Z Ultra GPE
  • They've made the Z4 Tablet so it's not affected by any of these overheating issues. It's actually the coolest device I've ever owned. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Roll on when we can take out the glass and replace it cheaply, its got to happen? I like my glass screen protection on my s5, it covers up the scratches on the screen, haha Posted via the Android Central App
  • It needs to be heated up enough before it becomes more adhesive and smoother. But Sony does it by itself. Posted via the Android Central App
  • It's like Sony wants the z3+/z4 to fail Posted via Android Central App
  • I can't wait to read you rip apart the Z3+, Alex. As for the screen protector...Dear Lord, give us patience to bare with the amount of stupidity Sony is putting us through around the Z3+... (At this point, thank God Nokia's coming back. Sony is really getting on my nerves and I no longer have a lot of prospects when it comes to the Z5Compact).
  • I really find it strange that you all influenced by the points the writer spoke about, is this something deserve to speak about?!
    I've been using Ericsson then Sony Ericsson then Sony for about 17 years now, and found them one of thè best.
  • I'm feeling increasingly happy I chose LG over Sony for my first Android phone. This is kinda pathetic this late in the flagship game.
  • Hmm what's the issue, Alex has stated that it is not a permanent screen protector, it's easy to remove (probably easier than applying it) and the Glass underneath has a proper Oleophobic coating. If you don't want it, remove it, if you want one you now don't need to fit it. Time to move on from this and wait for the actual phone reviews rather than worry about a non-issue.