Best iPad Screen Protectors

Updated October 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

20 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
225 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best iPad screen protectors

Last Updated October 2019

Since the first iPad, Apple has relied on Corning — the makers of Gorilla Glass — to provide the glass panel screens for their tablets. Although Apple and Corning don’t comment on the specific type of glass used in their production, iPad screens have long had a reputation of being damage and scratch resistant. Unfortunately, regardless of how well-engineered it may be, glass is still glass. Even the toughest glass can still scratch or break.

Tablets are especially vulnerable since, unlike computers, touch is the primary form of interaction. Under the right circumstances, dirt or particulates on the tip of your finger, stylus or Apple Pencil can scratch your iPad’s screen. In addition, because an iPad doesn’t come with a case, the screen is always exposed by default. It’s easy to accidentally place or drop an iPad face-down on a rough surface that can scratch or damage the display, and something can be placed or dropped on an iPad’s screen with similar results.

As the prices of iPads have increased over the years — with some iPad Pros coming in at nearly $2,000 — many users want an extra layer of defense to help protect their investment. Screen protectors are an excellent, low-cost way of doing that.

There are two main types of plastic protectors, TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) and PET (polyethylene terephthalate). If you’ve decided on a plastic protector, look for one made with TPU for best results.

Key considerations

The single biggest consideration when choosing a screen protector for your iPad is the material it’s made of. The two types of material primarily used are glass and plastic, each with their own set of advantages.

Glass
The biggest advantages to glass screen protectors is how they look and feel. Similar to your iPad’s screen, a glass protector offers a high level of clarity, without washing out your device’s colors or HD. Similarly, glass protectors offer the best feel, in terms of the touch interface. Like the iPad’s display, your finger slides smoothly across a glass protector.

This material also lends itself well to edge-to-edge screen protection, although the added thickness may keep the iPad from fitting into some cases, since most glass protectors are 0.3mm to 0.5mm thick. (In contrast, plastic protectors are as little as 0.1mm.)

In general, glass is a sturdier material than plastic and offers a higher degree of protection — with some caveats. Specifically, glass protectors suffer from the same limitations as the glass they’re protecting. While there are different levels of quality and toughness, including ones made from Gorilla Glass, a glass protector can still be chipped or cracked. If it does crack, there’s a good chance the crack will rapidly spread, similar to a crack in an automobile windshield.

If the damage to the protector is severe enough, it may chip and fracture apart, causing even more damage to the iPad’s screen.
 

Plastic
Plastic screen protectors offer a different type of durability. The thicker the material, the more durable they are and the more they protect your iPad from both scratches and impacts. In effect, a thicker, plastic protector provides a small degree of shock absorption. While they scratch much easier than glass protectors, there’s virtually no risk of a scratch to the protector damaging your iPad in any way.

On the downside, plastic protectors are known for being fingerprint magnets. Also, scratches can ensure they quickly take on a grungy look, which will detract from the appearance of your iPad.

Another disadvantage of a plastic protector is the feel of it versus a naked screen or glass protector. Plastic protectors, especially low-end ones, aren’t as smooth as glass and your finger won’t track as easily.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some plastic protectors tout “self-healing” properties. This feature, usually found in TPU protectors, means the plastic is soft enough to absorb light scratches and slowly return to normal.

Features

Anti-glare
If you plan on using your iPad outdoors, or in areas with very bright lights, you should look for a screen protector with an anti-glare coating.

Privacy
Some screen protectors double as an added privacy feature by making it difficult to see what’s on the screen unless you’re looking directly at it. This is a good option if you’re frequently in situations where you need to look at sensitive information without the people next to you seeing it.

Ultra-clear
An ultra-clear protector is designed to be as transparent as possible, using the finest materials. As a result, these products are the best at maintaining the color, clarity and HD of your iPad’s naked screen, while still offering that added layer of protection.

Oleophobic coating
Oleophobic coating helps keep fingerprints from sticking to glass protectors. Not all oleophobic coatings are the same. Cheaper options have a coating that is sprayed on, while the coating on more expensive covers is statically applied. The difference is not as big as you may think, however, as the cheaper coatings last for a month, while the more expensive ones only last for three.

Related: Looking for more accessories for your iPad? Check out the best keyboards for iPads.

DID YOU KNOW?

Most tempered glass protectors are multi-layered, containing silicon and PET layers for added protection.

Price

Because of the range of options and materials, the price of screen protectors can vary from $1 for a pack containing several to well over $35 for a single one.

Inexpensive: The quality of the plastic will be fairly low, with a noticeable reduction of your iPad’s color, clarity and HD. These protectors often come in a pack of five for as little as $1, or a couple of dollars at most.

Mid-range: Mid-range options will have additional features designed to make using a screen protector more seamless. These products will run several dollars apiece for a plastic protector and in the mid-teens for a glass one.

Expensive: The most expensive options are upwards of $10 for a single plastic protector and $35 for a glass version. These are the best of the best, with the finest oleophobic coating, anti-glare and the most transparent materials. Glass models will also be high-strength Gorilla Glass, or a comparable technology.

DID YOU KNOW?

Tempered glass is made by superheating and rapidly cooling glass. Because the outer surface is under compression and the inner surface is under tension, tempered glass breaks into chunks rather than shards.

Tips

  • If you use an Apple Pencil and miss the feel of writing on paper, a plastic protector may help. While nothing will perfectly mimic the feel of a pen on paper, a plastic screen protector offers more “grab” for your Pencil than a glass screen. This makes it a closer experience to pen and paper.

  • Many glass screen protector kits will include a wet cleaning cloth to use before applying the protector. Be sure your iPad’s screen is completely dry before you put the screen protector on, otherwise the moisture strapped underneath will create a rainbow shimmering effect.

Other products we considered

Like many accessories for the iPad screen protectors offer different features for different uses. As a result, there a couple of additional options that may be worth looking at. The RhinoShield High Impact-Resistant Screen Protector touts a shock-damping layer that can absorb five times the impact energy of Gorilla Glass 3, while being as thin as three sheets of paper. This protector is also scratch-resistant and designed to be as smooth as your iPad’s naked screen. These high-end features put the price at $39.99. The Phantom Glass Screen Protector is made from Gorilla Glass and promises 100% clarity. As an added bonus, this protector is slightly thinner than most glass products, coming in at 0.2mm. The Phantom Glass Screen Protector costs $29.99.

Tempered glass protectors often have a shatterproof layer that holds the pieces in place if your protector breaks. This helps prevent them from causing any damage to the screen underneath.

FAQ

Q. Can I reuse a screen protector?
A.
That depends on the quality of the screen protector and the material it’s made from. Cheaper plastic protectors are often one-and-done applications, while thicker, more expensive plastic protectors can be reused. The same is true for more expensive glass products.

Q. What happens if my glass protector cracks or breaks?
A.
More expensive products from reputable companies often come with a warranty and will replace the screen protector with a new one.

Q. Will a glass screen protector impact my Apple Pencil use?
A.
It might, depending on how you use your Apple Pencil. Some users report lines that are wavy and not perfectly crisp in drawing apps when using a glass protector. Your mileage may vary, as much of this depends on the quality of the glass.

The team that worked on this review
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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