I’ve installed tempered glass screen protectors on 5 cameras so far. They work great — much better than plastic screen protectors.
They don’t noticeably diffuse the light (aka great transmission of light), clean easy and go on relatively easy (if you can control dust in the room). In reality, I don’t even notice them there unless I brush the edge of the screen protectors which feels slightly rougher, but not enough to cause issues.
Years ago, when I got my first iPod Touch (before iPhones came out), I put a plastic screen protector on it. It protected the screen, but it diffused a lot of light (and got worse as it got roughened up with use), it scratched up easily and it made my finger drag across the screen.
When I got my first iPad. I didn’t want to hinder the oleopathic/hydrophobic screen Apple put on it. (Oleopathic/hydrophobic means oil/water/fingerprint resistant, but it also creates the glide that you feel.) But after 4 years of careful use inside a folio case, I still ended up scratching the screen once which is only noticeable if you are looking for it or move so you see it shimmer. This bothers me a little mostly when I am looking through photos.
(Sorry, the scratch is too difficult to photograph.)
So, for my new iPad Pro 12.9, I wanted to see if the new tempered glass screen protectors with a fingerprint resistant layer would perform well enough to protect the iPad’s screen. This is especially important as I am trying out a different case design that doesn’t include a way to protect the front screen (it is more of a thin, drop protection case).
I ended up buying a generic screen protector (sold by JETech) which, on spec, has the same features as those expensive protectors, but I can’t vouch for those $50+ protectors. Here is what I discovered.
But first, I apologize for not having photos of every little installation step. The installation process is tricky enough without having to deal with taking photos, too, and, in many cases, both of my hands were too busy to take photos.
And, like my review on the camera screen protector, there isn’t much to see (it is supposed to be invisible after all) so, sorry, I didn’t bother to take many photos.
FYI Most of these observations/tips also apply to installing tempered glass screens on cameras and smart phones.
(You will, of course, want to install in a low dust room with room fans off. It is probably a good idea to wash your hands, too, as well as make sure your clothes and hair are not dusty.)
You will also, of course, want to remove all the dust and dirt from the iPad screen. The kit that I got included a small microfiber cloth (most kits do unless it is screen only) which did the trick. The kit also included a “dust remover” which is a plastic sheet with a light adhesive, but also has a lot of static cling to attract/remove dust. Don’t forget to use this on the edge of the iPad as removing the sheet protecting the adhesive will also generate static (which will attract dust).
When I was nearly done, I noticed that one large spec of dust got under the glass. (Oh, no!!!) I lifted the glass (with a lot of care and patience) and used the static cling dust remover to remove the dust. It took more pressure than I expected, but it worked after several attempts. (I was concerned that I would add more dust than I removed, but I was lucky.) Don’t forget to use the sheet on the iPad screen to remove any dust you introduce.
They, of course, don’t want you getting dirt on the underside after you remove the sheet protecting the silicone adhesive, so they included two stickers to hold the screen at the corners while you position the screen. The trouble is — this is an oleopathic/hydrophobic screen which means stickers don’t adhere to it well, so I ended up holding it (carefully) on the edges.
Just like the tiny screen protectors for cameras, I didn’t position it correctly at first, but the screen came off (relatively) easy (with patience) for repositioning. Be careful not to damage the adhesive layer with your finger or nail. I did this in one corner, but it is not noticeable under the case that I have the iPad in.
Since the home button is very important, I made this the edge to go down first and then slowly lowered the other end — being careful to watch the alignment. My final position isn’t perfectly positioned around the home button, but I can deal with that.
Unlike putting on a small screen, this gigantic, 12.9″ screen didn’t perfectly adhere by itself. Instead, it tried to adhere unevenly and created pockets of air. Luckily, the screen comes off (use care and a lot of patience), and I guided the adhesive by pressing on the middle of the screen and sliding the way I wanted it to adhere.
Bubbles still formed on a few edges, but lifting up and pressing down fixed these.
The edge of the protector is rounded instead of sharp. A nice touch in comparison to some of the generic tempered glass screen protectors on my cameras, but probably a required feature since a sharp glass edge is probably not acceptable on tablets.
All the previous screens that I installed for cameras were only on 3″ screens. The iPad Pro is 12.9″ which is a lot bigger, but the glass is no thicker. It only seems thicker since I have to use the fingerprint-reading home button.
Bubbling along edge
The thickness started off as an issue with the UAG case which only grips the iPad with a thin lip (which I prefer to avoid the case interfering with my finger at the edge of the touchscreen). The screen protector would bubble up along two edges. To fix this, I would “loosen” up the edges by pressing the screen away from the lip, then press down on the bubbles. This happened for about a day or two, but hasn’t done it since. (Sorry, I didn’t take photos.) My guess is that the plastic UAG case has adjusted to the thicker screen and isn’t pressing as hard on the glass anymore which is great since repeated bubbling could add dust or damage the adhesive.
Just like my camera screen protectors, the light transmission is excellent. I hardly notice a difference, and any slight difference is worth the protection. I have not tried this with polarized lenses yet, but, unlike my cameras, I’m not planning on using this where I also need polarized sunglasses.
There is a slight difference in glide drag and sometimes I have to press harder than usual to select something, but:
- I added thickness by adding a screen protector so I can’t fault Apple for this
- This isn’t Apple’s expensive glass, and more expensive screen protectors might do better.
Although it technically works with Apple Pencil, I found that it works much better without.
So there you have it.
- Be careful with the install which can be tricky
- Looks invisible
- Fingers don’t glide on it as easily
- You sometimes have to press a little harder
- If you use a case, make sure it is compatible (won’t case significant issues)
While taking photographs of the inside of the case, I cracked the screen protector getting the iPad back into the case.
Doh!!! Totally my fault. I didn’t notice that the corner of the case had NOT gotten over the screen protector. I thought that it had bubbled up again and pressed down to get adhesion back. By the time I felt something wrong… SNAP!… and doh!
The screen is fine, but thank goodness that I didn’t get one of those $50+ screen protectors. I was on the fence with having to press harder and not gliding across the screen as easily. Was it worth it? Since I also like using Apple’s Pencil, probably not, but that is just my opinion. But since I got an inexpensive generic screen, I can afford to replace the screen protector a few times over at the same cost of one $50+ screen protector.
So what will I do next? I ended up removing the screen protector and keeping the iPad in an inexpensive neoprene sleeve (Amazon Basics). This has worked as a great combo so far. The Apple Pencil works slightly better without the screen protector, and I like how my finger glides on the bare screen better.