If you’re constantly worrying about whether someone is looking over your shoulder or not, 3M has the product for you.
Paranoid cell phone users will appreciate the Mobile Privacy Films that apply to your smartphone’s screen and obscure the view to those to either side of you. Using 3M’s patented “micro-louvre” technology – essentially a micro-sized version of venetian blinds – your phone’s screen is only clearly visible when viewed straight on.
Applying the film is easily done. Scrub your screen free of dust with a micro-fibre cloth and then peel the sticker off your film and fit it to your screen. Then you peel another plastic layer off the other side of the film to complete the application.
Using the film sized for my BlackBerry 8330, the screen is clearly visible when viewed straight-on. There is a noticeable dimming factor. When the device is rotated horizontally, the privacy film’s effectiveness becomes clear. As it angles away from view, the screen dims and looks completely dark before the phone is titled 30 degrees.
I challenged a friend to try and read a text message off my screen while using 3M’s filter, but she couldn’t even tell me if my device was on or not.
One downfall of the privacy film is that it is only effective from either side of the film. A person standing in front of you and looking at your phone upside-down can still see the screen clearly. This isn’t a problem until you consider that many smartphone now work in landscape and portrait mode. So iPhone users for example, must choose between using a widescreen film or a standard film. That means your privacy is only protected half of the time.
The film was sticky enough to remove from my BlackBerry and then reapply, and it stayed firmly in place. The sticker doesn’t leave residue on the screen when you peel it off.
The privacy films cost about $10 for mobile phone sizes and come pre-cut for a range of devices. If you can’t find yours on the list, you can always just cut it to fit. The films can be bought online or in many office supply stores.