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Does Your iPad Need a Screen Protector?

closeup of a young person installing a screen protector in a digital tablet

Apple’s iPads are expensive devices, so protecting the touchscreen from scratches, dings, and dents makes a lot of sense. But the company designed iPads to be resistant to such damage, and a protector is not strictly necessary for everyone. It ultimately depends on how you use your tablet.

Most iPad Owners Should Use a Screen Protector

Carrying around an iPad in a purse, backpack, or satchel without a case is just asking for trouble. If cases aren’t your style, a screen protector is a must-have. Your iPad will be bumping around with other items in your bag like keys, phones, and other things that can and will scratch your iPad screen if it’s not protected.

Even if your iPad never leaves your bedside table, a short drop onto the floor can potentially shatter the display. Adding an extra layer of protection reduces this risk dramatically.

Person using the 2018 11-inch Apple iPad Pro, swiping home screen or touching app icon. Illustrative editorial content

Children are notoriously harsh on electronics. If you’ve bought an iPad for your child, a screen protector is the bare minimum protection you need. You probably should invest in a case as well. Even if you have the most responsible kid in the world, they’re prone to drop it, use items they should not on a glass screen, and come up with clever ways to destroy expensive equipment.

If you’re the type that needs the latest and greatest gadgets as soon as they come out, you’ll often stack up old devices that you don’t use. So, selling those devices is a great way to pay for the upgrades. However, scratches and dings dramatically reduce how much you can get for them. A screen protector ensures not only that your iPad remains beautiful but also maintains its resale value.

Arguably the most compelling reason to shield your iPad screen is that these devices are mondo expensive. While you can always replace the screen if it gets too damaged, that’s also a pricey venture. If your iPad is out-of-warranty and you don’t have AppleCare, it will cost anywhere between $349 to $699 to get it fixed (with AppleCare it only costs $49). And most importantly, if you get a visible scratch across your iPad screen, you’ll be stuck looking at it for years to come. The minor investment in a screen protector will save you the pain and regret of ruining a product you use every day.

Will an Apple Pencil Damage Your iPad’s Screen?

2018 11 inch Apple Pencil with Apple iPad Pro
Poravute Shiriphiroon/Shutterstock.com

The Apple Pencil is specially designed not to damage your iPad’s display. But while the Apple Pencil itself won’t produce micro-scratches, dust, sand, grit, or other debris on its tip can. So, it’s always a good idea to wipe down your iPad with a microfiber cloth before you use it.

But a screen protector ensures that your iPad’s screen never gets even a micro-scratch, which can be caused by everyday use and are invisible when your display is on. They’re even hard to see when the screen is off, but you’ll notice them when the light hits the screen at just the right angle.

Screen protectors prevent micro-scratches by ensuring nothing comes into direct contact with the display. And there are screen protectors that are specifically designed for use with the Apple Pencil. The most notable of which are paper-like protectors that emulate the feel of actual paper.


Screen Protectors Aren’t Always Necessary

Logitech iPad (7th, 8th and 9th generation) Slim Folio Keyboard Case

iPad screen protectors aren’t for everyone. And if you treat your tablet with care, you can keep it in pristine condition without using one.

Cases are a more utilitarian way to protect your screen from scratches and shattering caused by drops. Some iPad cases come with a plastic shield for the display, providing ultimate protection. Apple even offers an array of keyboard folios that not only protect your screen but also include a keyboard to reduce how much you touch the display. But if they don’t have those, you should use extra caution when you expose your iPad to potentially dangerous circumstances.

In some cases, you just don’t use your iPad that often. It could be because it’s an older model that sits on a shelf, you acquired a used one from a friend or relative and don’t have much use for it, or simply because you bought it and lost interest after a while. But no matter the reason for a seldom-used iPad, a screen protector doesn’t make much sense because the chances of getting scratched are minimal.

For some, screen protectors ruin the natural beauty of an iPad and diminish the experience of their fantastic displays. Additionally, inferior protectors can reduce the touchscreen’s responsiveness and negate the smooth-as-glass feel of the device. If these are your concerns, a screen protector isn’t for you. Just treat your iPad with the care it needs to preserve the aspects that you bought it for in the first place.

Which Type of Screen Protector Should You Use?

iPad protectors are a great investment to keep your tablet clean, functional, and damage-free. If you decide that it’s right for you, the next step is picking best iPad protector for your needs. There are four types of iPad screen protectors available.

  • Tempered Glass: These types of screen protectors replicate the look and feel of your iPad’s screen. And while they might bubble up from time to time, you probably won’t notice the difference if you install it right.
  • Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET): A great choice if you’re on a budget. These plastic protectors are smooth to the touch and provide decent protection from scratches but won’t save your iPad if you drop it.
  • Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU): Another plastic option that features something that PET protectors lack: elasticity. This means that the protector will naturally heal itself when it gets scratched.
  • Paperlike: This option is exactly what it sounds like. These protectors give your iPad screen the feel of paper. In addition to providing excellent protection, they’re great for those who use the Apple Pencil to draw and write.

For most iPad users, tempered glass protectors are the best choice. If you’re on a budget, the plastic options work well too. But artists should absolutely see if paperlike protectors enhance the experience of using their tablet.

Ready to Buy a Screen Protector?

iPad screen protectors are a great tool to preserve the integrity of your tablet. They’re inexpensive, not overly complicated to install, and give you greater peace of mind in the case of an accident. If you’re ready to make that purchase, consider one of our best iPad screen protectors picks below:

JETech Screen Protector

Shield your new iPad with a tempered glass screen protector.

OMOTON Screen Protector

Get the right sized screen protector for your iPad Air.

MOBDIK Paperfeel Screen Protector

Give your iPad screen the feeling of paper that's perfect for artists.

Danny Chadwick Danny Chadwick
Danny has been a technology journalist since 2008. He served as senior writer, as well as multimedia and home improvement editor at Top Ten Reviews until 2019. Since then, he has been a freelance contributor to Lifewire and ghostwriter for Fit Small Business. His work has also appeared on Laptop Mag, Tom’s Guide, and business.com. Read Full Bio »