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 an iPad 9.7″ (a model without the newer anti-reflective 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 11″ and 12.9″, iPad Mini 4 -5, iPad Mini 1-3 and the original iPad 2-5.

3 COMMENTS

  1. I have an anti-glare shield for my iPad and it works great. I’ve had it for over a year and it’s just as good now as the day I put it on. It’s called Supershieldz and you get 3 in a package for $10. They have their own online video showing how to put it on, which is quite easy. And since you get 3, you don’t have to worry if you mess up the first one, which you won’t. (I used the other screen protectors on my wife and daughter’s iPads.) It’s also top rated on Amazon. I do agree with your article in that it is important to use an anti-glare screen protector.

  2. I have been using MGF anti-glare screen protectors on my original Mini, my Mini 4, and my last two iPhones. Twice, once on my Mini and once on my previous iPhone, they broke when I dropped the devices, but they prevented any damage to the screens. I will continue to have them on any device I have in the future—they are the best.

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