An iPad screen protector will defend the most vulnerable part of your tablet without adding the additional bulk and weight of a cover or case. Screen protectors have come a long way, and the latest models are more durable than ever while offering features like blue light reduction and protection from fingerprint smudges.
iPad screen protectors are also cut to perfectly align with the size and shape of your iPad’s screen, with cutouts for its notch (if applicable) or fingerprint reader. Considering how much it costs to fix a cracked iPad display, a screen protector is the only accessory we consider absolutely necessary regardless of how you use the tablet. Here’s our roundup of the best iPad screen protectors available today.
— Best Overall: InvisibleShield Glass Elite VisionGuard+
— Best Budget: JETech Screen Protector for iPad Air
— Best Matte: Paperlike for iPad Air
— Easiest to Apply: Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector
How Much Does It Cost to Repair an iPad?
To illustrate the usefulness of an iPad screen protector, we discovered how much it would cost to repair the tablet’s screen when it’s out of warranty. The prices range from $249 for the 9.7-inch iPad 2 (a tablet that hasn’t been sold in several years) to $749 for the latest-generation 12.9-inch iPad Pro.
If your iPad is under warranty, the repair costs $49 regardless of the model. Keep in mind that subscribing to AppleCare+, Apple’s warranty service, costs between $3.49 and $7.99 per month or $69 and $149 per year depending on which iPad you have. An iPad screen protector is a one-time purchase that can help you avoid having to pay for a subscription or a hefty repair fee. If you keep your iPad for several years, the screen protector could basically pay for itself.
How We Picked The Best iPad Screen Protectors
If you’re afraid of a screen protector making your iPad’s touch screen less responsive, don’t worry. The screen protectors available now are thick enough to handle the impact of an accidental drop, but thin enough that you’ll still be able to swipe, write, and tap without the introduction of lag. An iPad screen protector won’t dull the vibrancy of your iPad’s screen either, so you’ll still get to appreciate the colors of photos, videos, games, and other apps as if the protector wasn’t there. There’s no downside to using an iPad screen protector, and all of our recommendations cost well under $100, which makes them a good investment, too. Our surround iPad screen protector recommendations are based on a mix of hands-on testing and research.
Material: A majority of the iPad screen protectors we’re recommending are made out of tempered glass, an ultra-strong material that can resist scratches and protect against cracks more effectively than your tablet’s built-in display. The only exception is our matte iPad screen protector which uses polyethylene terephthalate instead.
Glare Protection: Glass screen protectors will reflect a lot of light, which means using your iPad outdoors during the day will be difficult due to the glare of the sun. A matte screen protector will reflect less light, which will make the iPad easier to use outside of the house.
iPad Model: We made sure to choose iPad screen protectors that were available for many models of iPad, so you can keep your tablet’s display safe regardless of its size and vintage. Our default recommendations are for the 10.9-inch iPad Air, as it’s the mid-sized iPad model. Additionally, many screen protectors that are compatible with the 10.9-inch iPad Air also fit the 11-inch iPad Pro.
Apple Pencil Compatibility: The Apple Pencil will work with any of the iPad screen protectors we’re recommending.
Installation Process: You’re only going to install your iPad’s screen protector once, but we understand the prospect of messing that up can be nerve-racking. We’ve given preference to iPad screen protectors that make the process as simple as possible by including guides or other tools.
Best iPad Screen Protectors: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: InvisibleShield Glass Elite VisionGuard+
Why It Made The Cut: InvisibleShield Glass Elite VisionGuard+ impressed us with its easy installation process, fingerprint resistance, blue-light reduction, and soft feel.
— Material: Glass
— Supported iPad Models: iPad Air, iPad Pro 11, iPad Pro 12.9
— Glare Protection: No
— Antimicrobial material
— Blue-light reduction
— Anti-Fingerprint coating
— Plastic waste
After several weeks of hands-on testing, InvisibleShield’s Glass Elite VisionGuard+ gets our full endorsement. The screen protector comes with a nifty alignment tool that makes it impossible to incorrectly apply it to your display. Novices and experts alike will have no problem getting the Glass Elite VisionGuard+ onto their iPad’s screen in a couple of minutes.
You should also be happy with the included alcohol wipe and microfiber cloth, which allows you to thoroughly clean the iPad’s display before putting the screen protector on. Failing to clean the iPad’s display may lead to dust, hair, and other debris to be caught under the screen protector, and become a permanent blight. Our only qualm is that InvisibleShield’s alignment tool is made of plastic, and has no use after its one task, which is kind of wasteful. InvisibleShield says the glass it used for this screen protector has reinforced edges, which means your iPad’s display should survive if you accidentally drop it on a corner. In fact, InvisibleShield says the glass it uses for the Glass Elite VisionGuard+ is made using a tempering process that makes it far more durable, so your entire screen should be safe.
Once we added the screen protector, we were very pleased at how well it functioned. We noticed no loss of touch sensitivity or screen quality, and the Glass Elite VisionGuard+ even felt nice to touch. You wouldn’t expect an iPad screen protector to have a lot of technology under its analog hood, but this one is surprisingly complex. It has an antimicrobial treatment, which InvisibleShield says can reduce the amount of odor-causing bacteria from living on its surface, and a custom-designed oleophilic coating to prevent fingerprints from accumulating. We can vouch for this iPad screen protector’s ClearPrint™ anti-fingerprint coating, as it really has seemed to keep them from streaking our iPad’s display.
If you plan on using your iPad for multiple hours every day, you’ll benefit greatly from the Glass Elite VisionGuard+’s blue-light protection. This screen protector automatically filters out some blue light, which is harder on your eyes — especially at night. The difference is subtle, but you’ll notice it when looking at displays that aren’t using this screen protector. You wouldn’t expect any of these special touches from an iPad screen protector, which is why we’ve been so surprised at how well the Glass Elite VisionGuard+ works.
All of this technology does come at a cost, though. This is the most expensive iPad screen protector we’re recommending by a fair margin, though we’d argue it can certainly save you money in the long run by preventing you from replacing your tablet’s display. Additionally, the Glass Elite VisionGuard+ comes with a limited lifetime warranty, which InvisibleShield says it will honor for the life of your device. You can check out the full terms of its warranty. In any case, if we could only recommend one iPad screen protector, it would be InvisibleShield’s Glass Elite VisionGuard+’. Its performance has been excellent during our tests, and none of the extra features that bump up its price or superfluous.
Best Budget: JETech Screen Protector for iPad
Why It Made The Cut: If you’re fine with using a basic screen protector with your iPad, this is the one we recommend.
— Material: Glass
— Supported iPad Models: iPad 9.7, iPad 10.2, iPad Air, iPad Pro 11, iPad Pro 12.9
— Glare Protection: No
— 9H hardness
— No extra coatings
— No blue light reduction
JETech’s Screen Protector for iPad is a no-frills affair, but it’ll still keep the tablet’s display free from cracks and scratches. The company says it has a hardness of 9H on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, which puts it just under diamond in terms of durability. This screen protector should have no problem keeping your iPad’s display free from blemishes caused by keys in your bag, or an accidental drop.
JETech also touts this screen protector’s easy “one-push” application process, which includes instructions, a guide stick, cleaning cloth, and dust removal stick. This is the least expensive iPad screen protector we’re recommending, which is why we were surprised that JETech bundles two of them together, which brings the price down to under $5. If you and a person you know need iPad screen protectors, this is an incredible value.
You won’t find blue-light protection, an anti-fingerprint oleophobic coating, or other advanced features in JETech’s Screen Protector for iPad, but that doesn’t really matter given its price. You’re still going to put a physical barrier between your iPad’s display and the obstacles in the outside world, which is the point of using a screen protector in the first place.
Best Matte: Paperlike for iPad
Why It Made The Cut: Paperlike’s matte screen protector can diffuse light and adds some friction to the iPad’s display, which replicates the experience of writing and drawing on paper.
— Material: Polyethylene terephthalate
— Supported iPad Models: iPad Mini, iPad 9.7, iPad 10.2, iPad Air, iPad Pro 11, iPad Pro 12.9
— Glare protection: Yes
— Adds friction to your display
— Comes in a two-pack
— Matte screens aren’t for everybody
Paperlike’s screen protector for the iPad may be the most interesting option we’re recommending because it’s designed for more than just safety. As its name suggests, this screen protector is designed specifically for Apple Pencil users to give your tablet more of a, well, paper-like look and feel.
That starts with the textured polyethylene terephthalate Paperlike used, which adds texture to your display, which you’ll feel when you draw or take notes. You’ll feel some resistance, which is designed to replicate the experience of using a pencil on paper on a digital display. You’ll also notice the texture when you tap, swipe, and pinch the screen with your fingers. Whether you like that feeling, which we should point out isn’t particularly abrasive, comes down to personal preference. The iPad has been considered a big, portable, digital canvas since the original model was released in 2010, but Paperlike is trying to up the ante.
The biggest benefit to choosing Paperlike as your iPad screen protector is its use of Paperlike’s custom Nanodot technology, which diffuses light. The screen protector’s Nanodot coating will reduce the amount of glare you’ll experience when using your iPad outdoors, or directly beneath an indoor light source aka light bulbs. It won’t be a night-and-day difference (the e-ink-equipped Kindle is still the best digital device for reading outdoors), but it should be immediately noticeable.
Paperlike’s iPad screen protector is a little pricey, but the company includes two in the box, which makes its cost manageable if you’re able to split the cost with someone else. You could also keep the spare in reserve for the next time you upgrade your iPad, so long as the tablet you get has the same-size screen. A matte iPad screen protector isn’t for everybody, but we applaud Paperlike for offering an entirely different feature set than the other models we’re recommending. It sticks out in a good way, and could be an especially good buy for digital artists who miss the tactile feel of working with physical tools.
Easiest To Apply: Spigen Tempered Glass Screen Protector
Why It Made The Cut: Spigen’s iPad screen protector is easy to get onto your device perfectly, and will keep the tablet’s display protected once it’s been applied.
— Material: Glass
— Supported iPad Models: iPad Mini 8.3, iPad 10.2, iPad Air, iPad Pro 11, iPad Pro 12.9
— Glare Protection: No
— 9H hardness
— Alignment tools
— Plastic waste
Spigen developed its iPad screen protector for people who are new to this type of accessory, and are afraid of screwing up the application process. The screen protector comes with its own iPad cradle, which holds your iPad and keeps it completely flat and stable. Two pegs on the top and bottom of this cradle perfectly align with holes on the top and bottom tabs on the outside of the screen protector. By aligning the holes and pegs, Spigen guarantees its screen protector will fit on top of your iPad’s display with pinpoint precision, no effort necessary.
The price you pay for this convenience is a lot of leftover plastic that you can’t use for any other purpose. This is a knock we had against InvisibleShield’s iPad screen protector, but Spigen’s uses a lot more plastic. The inclusion of a custom-molded iPad holder may also have inflated this screen protector’s price, though we feel it’s worth the financial tradeoff. If you misalign a screen protector, you have to throw it away, which is even more wasteful.
We appreciate Spigen’s commitment to making its accessory easier to use for less tech-savvy users, but it also does a good job once it’s on your device. It has a hardness of 9H, features an oleophobic coating to reduce the amount of fingerprint smudges your iPad accumulates, and is guaranteed to work with any case. Basically, your iPad’s screen will be protected and crystal clear, even if it takes an accidental tumble. We’ve had good experiences with Spigen’s other protective gear, and feel confident in its iPad screen protector’s ability to keep your device safe.
Things to Consider Before Buying an iPad Screen Protector
Your Upgrade Timeline: The only circumstance under which we wouldn't recommend getting an iPad screen protector is when you’re on the verge of upgrading your tablet. In that case, we suggest doing your research to determine which of Apple’s tablets is right for you (we have a handy guide to the best iPads!) and get a screen protector when you make that purchase.
If you plan on passing along your iPad to a friend or family member, you may want to consider putting a screen protector onto their new tablet as a kind gesture.
Screen Protectors vs. Screen Covers: If you’re debating whether to get a screen protector, which stays on your iPad’s display permanently, or a screen cover, which can be taken on and off at will, we recommend going with the former. A screen cover will protect your iPad’s display when it’s in a bag, but won’t be much help if you accidentally drop the tablet while you’re using it.
Q: Do screen protectors interfere with the Apple Pencil?
No. Using an iPad screen protector will not impact the performance of the Apple Pencil.
Q: What happens if my glass protector cracks or breaks?
You will need to replace it with another iPad screen protector.
Q: Can I reuse a screen protector?
No. The iPad screen protector stays on your iPad with a strong adhesive, so it cannot be re-applied once it’s been removed.
Q: Should I invest in a screen protector or a case for my iPad?
Both. But, if you can only choose one, we recommend a screen protector because the iPad’s display is the part that’s most likely to get damaged.
Final Thoughts on iPad Screen Protectors
In terms of sheer utility, an iPad screen protector is the best accessory for Apple’s venerable line of tablets. You’ll use it every time you pick up your iPad, and never have to worry about it getting lost. Ironically, this is one of the few accessories we hope you never have to use for its intended purpose. Dropping your iPad, even when it has a screen protector, is a pretty scary experience. That’s doubly true if the tablet falls screen-side down.
Having a slim barrier between your iPad’s display and the ground can save you hundreds of dollars without requiring any effort. If you’re considering getting an iPad, or want to keep the one you have in excellent condition, pick up a screen protector as soon as possible.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.