iPad screen protectors – which one is best for pilots?

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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.

After countless flight trials over the years, our favorite by a long shot is MyGoFlight’s ArmorGlas.

To help illustrate its effectiveness, we installed the protector on a new iPad 9.7″ (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 fall day – a really difficult lighting situation.

What you see below is a comparison of the iPad with no screen protector compared to the ArmorGlas. 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.

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 less expensive films, 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 thinner films. 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 thinner films.

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 9.7″/iPad/iPad Air, iPad Pro 10.5″, iPad Pro 12.9″, iPad Mini 4, iPad Mini 1-3 and the original iPad 2-4.

 

4 COMMENTS

  1. Within my little flying community, we have found the screen protectors that have a white margin face make a real difference in heat management. Especially if the iPad gets direct sunlight. Most people, myself included, scoffed when this was suggested. Then, I tried it and it made a difference.

    I have not found one of the tempered glass protectors that has a color choice for the border.

  2. I bought one of these AmorGlas anti-glare protectors for my IPAD Mini 2 a year of so ago. It’s made of glass, so it’s rigid, as stated here, but that also means it will break very easily. That happened to me. I cleaned my screen and tried to be careful installing it, but not only did it leave a bubble under it that I can’t seem to get out, but while trying to get the bubble out, it also cracked. I can still use it, and it does reduce glare, but I was disappointed in the expense and how easy it was to break. I found an inexpensive anti-glare screen for my NEXUS 7 which works fine, so I wish there was a similar one for the Mini 2 and Mini 4.

  3. I echo that MGF’s ArmorGlas is the best, both for protection and for glare reduction. I have used it on my original Mini, my Mini 4, and 2 different iPhones. I have had to replace the MGF protectors twice which cracked when I dropped the affected device, but each time the device screen was protected. MGF’s support is excellent, too—very responsive and helpful.

  4. I disagree with the Foreflight analysis of the best protection for iPad glare reduction. I recently dumped my iPad mini as it was old and the newer mini processor was not that much better. I opted for the “New iPad 9.7”. The first time I flew with it the glare about blinded me as I had it yoke mounted on my Archer III. I did a lot of research on Amazon and came up with “Supershieldz Anti Glare” as the highest rated anti-glare screen protector. For $7.99 you get 3 of these! I figured for that price what do I have to lose. The installation was super easy (follow their video) and it has made a world of difference. It protects well and NO GLARE. I put it on my other 9.7 which is a P.ro and gave the 3rd one to my daughter for my grandson’s iPad he uses at school. I’ve nothing but high praise for this product and I recommend it without reservation.

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