iPad screen protector shootout – which one is best for pilots?

Screen glare is a persistent problem for pilots flying with the iPad. While smart mounting strategies can reduce it (we’ve been able to make the iPad screen usable in even bubble canopy airplanes), there’s no way to completely eliminate glare. After all, the iPad is a giant sheet of glass. Is there anything pilots can do?

For years, different companies have offered anti-glare screen protectors to help with this problem. We’ve tested dozens of them and most are, frankly, worthless. A good screen protector should pass four tests with us:

  • It is easy to install, without hundreds of little air bubbles.
  • It protects the screen from scratches and smudges.
  • It does not negatively affect the touch-screen interface.
  • It reduces screen glare without dimming the screen.

We decided to test the two top competitors in the anti-glare screen protector market: 3M’s Natural View screen protector and MyGoFlight’s ArmorGlas. We installed each of these on an iPad Air 2, with the screen brightness on maximum, and took it into the cockpit of a Cessna 172 on a sunny spring day – a really difficult lighting situation.

What you see below is a comparison of the iPad with no screen protector compared to the two contenders. It’s hard to show in the picture exactly what it looks like in the cockpit, but you get a good idea of each one’s performance.

iPad screen protectors test small

In the end, we found the ArmorGlas to be our top pick. Here’s how it stacked up on our four criteria:

  • ArmorGlas is actually a thin sheet of tempered glass, so it’s rigid. That means it’s fast and easy to install – no bubbles to press out and no thin film flying around in the wind.
  • The ArmorGlas is thicker than the traditional 3M film, so it provides better protection. We even took a box cutter to it and couldn’t scratch the iPad screen.
  • Somewhat counterintuitively, the ArmorGlas left the iPad screen more responsive than the thinner film. There was almost no difference between it and the naked iPad screen.
  • While not a miracle cure, we felt the ArmorGlas did reduce screen glare noticeably. Under our extreme test conditions, the screen still needed to be tilted just a bit to be able to read it clearly, but this was better than no protector and less washed out than the 3M.

At $49.99, ArmorGlas is not cheap, but it’s comparable to other high end screen protectors from companies like Zagg – you get what you pay for. It’s our top pick for pilots searching for an iPad screen protector that will last. ArmorGlas is available for the iPad Mini 1-3, the iPad Air 1-2 and the original iPad 2-4.

3 replies
  1. Darren Fern
    Darren Fern says:

    BodyGuardz armoured glass protectors are outstanding…much better than any plastic film. After trying 4 other protective films, they are by far a better product. I have no affiliation with the manufacturer. Just a very satisfied customer

  2. TK
    TK says:

    Since 2011, I have very much enjoyed using ClearCal anti-glare from RadTech.


    I, too, am a very satisfied customer.

    I’ve heard the following on Glass vs Plastic display protectors:

    Glass does exceed the performance of plastic in surface hardness (resistance to scratching).

    Glass, in reality, involves stacking an expensive breakable panel atop another. A glass display with a plastic film applied has at least double the shatter resistance compared to glass on glass.

    Additionally, if the mobile device suffers trauma sufficient to shatter its display, a plastic film will contain the fractured elements and may allow continued use of the device. In contrast, glass on glass will create twice as much broken glass and, in most cases, the device will not remain useable because the display glass is not held captive.

    Some argue that “glass protectors are tempered” but forget that the mobile device displays are also tempered. Tempering is NOT the same as shatter-resistance…tempered glass shatters faster and into more pieces than non-tempered.

    A quality anti-glare plastic film is also superior from an optical perspective as the matte AG surface is located much closer to the display, greatly reducing penumbra.

  3. Cary Alburn
    Cary Alburn says:

    I’ve been using the ArmorGlas anti-glare screen protector since last Fall on my iPad Mini. I also have the same ArmorGlas anti-glare protector on my iPhone 5s. When I need to replace either of those devices, I will get new ArmorGlas anti-glare protectors for the new devices. I think that says it all–I’m 100% pleased with them. They materially diminish glare in bright sunlight.

    Previously I had a high quality anti-glare plastic screen protector which had been installed for me by Best Buy. It did not do the job in the cockpit, at all, with constant glare issues, in spite of the shade provided by the “forpilotsonly” iPro Navigator yoke mount.

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