Many iPhone owners wrap their devices in a case for protection, but don't stop to think about protecting the screen. If they do, the screen protector is usually some sort of thin plastic film that shows bubbles or "rainbows" due to the material being different from the hard glass used on the iPhone. Seidio has released a tempered glass screen protector for the iPhone 5 called Vitreo (US$39.95) that uses an oleophobic glass with tapered edges to provide extra protection to your phone.
Before we go any further, I'll admit that I'm not sold on the idea that iPhones really need screen protectors. The glass on the screen is quite durable anyway, and on the seven iPhones I've owned since 2007, I've never scratched or broken a screen. But I do know people who have dropped an iPhone and had the screen promptly shatter, so perhaps this product does have a sizable market.
Opening the box, you'll find the Vitreo tempered glass screen protector, a microfiber cloth and alcohol wipes for cleaning the screen prior to installation of the Vitreo, some home button stickers (since the home button will be inset a bit more with the glass installed) in black, white, pink and light blue, and a plastic "pick" used to -- wait for it -- chase out any bubbles that might appear between the two glass layers.
Unlike the plastic screen protectors, the Vitreo is quite stiff. In fact, you're warned not to bend it as it will break if you do so with enough force. The glass also adds about 0.4 ounce of weight to your iPhone 5, more than you'd expect from a plastic screen protector. The glass is rated with a 9H hardness, meaning that it is virtually shatterproof. Seidio says Vitreo can "withstand the impact of a 90-gram steel ball dropped from a height of 25 cm." That's roughly equivalent to dropping an unprotected iPhone 5 screen-first onto a rounded surface from about 20 cm height.
The Vitreo can be removed once you've installed it, although Seidio recommends that you do this delicately to avoid bending the glass to its breaking point. I found the installation process to be remarkably simple, and much to my surprise there were no bubbles to be found between the Vitreo and my iPhone 5 screen once it was installed.
There's only one problem with writing a review about a glass screen protector -- none of the photos I took of my iPhone 5 with the Vitreo installed really showed anything. Sure, it's visible to the eye as an extra layer of glass on your phone, but photos didn't do it justice. So the two photos for this product basically show what you get in the kit before your install the Vitreo protector.
Is it worth the US$40? I'll leave that call up to you. It will most certainly keep your iPhone 5 screen free from scratches and possible breakage, and if you plan to keep your device for quite a while, it's probably a good investment.