Screen glare is a persistent problem for pilots flying with the iPad. The latest iPad Pro models incorporate an anti-reflective coating that is an improvement over the earlier models, but it still can be difficult to view in sunlight or when covered with fingerprint smudges. 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 (a model without the newer antireflective coating), 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.
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 Pro 9.7″/iPad/iPad Air, iPad Pro 12.9″, iPad Mini 4, iPad Mini 1-3 and the original iPad 2-4.