“Must-have” iPad accessories you should NOT buy: Screen Protectors

Don't buy these must-have iPad accessoriesEspecially if you are buying your very first iPad, you might be very excited to complete your new gadget with some “must-have” iPad accessories that are touted all around the web. But lets stop and breathe a little bit: do you really need to spend almost half of the price of your iPad again on accessories? You can if you like, but please don’t spend your money on these four “must-have” iPad accessories that are absolute bogus! Read on to learn how you can save almost $200…

With Apple’s next generation iPad 3 looming on the horizon, many people will buy their very first iPad and wonder whether they will need a screen protector, a cover or case, extra warranty, and other stuff. There must be something on the web to help you decide!

If you google for “iPad accessories”, you are pretty likely to find the following quote very soon:

“So you just dropped a bunch of cash on a shiny new iPad 2. All you want to do now is spend a little quality time getting to know your new device. But no, you’ve got more shopping to do. You need to accessorize!”

I am not saying that all iPad accessories are bad. In fact, I am a big fan of improving my workflow through accessories. But so many items that float around online on countless “must-have” lists are so ridiculously useless that it makes me wanna scream!

The following four items make it to the top of my “must-have iPad accessories you should never buy” list:

Bogus “must-have iPad accessories” #1: Screen protectors

Screen protectors are the biggest scam! There are plenty of companies and bloggers out there who will tell you that you must permanently cover the screen (and the back) of your iPad in order to prevent scratches. ZAGG is one of the biggest player in this game, and they lure you with impressive attributes such as “military grade” and “self-healing properties”. Wrapping your iPad in its invisibleSHIELD will set you back $40, or even more if you let somebody else do the wrapping.

Don't buy a screen protector

I call bullshit! You don’t need to worry about scratching your screen for the following reasons:

  • You don’t carry around your iPad in your pocket, therefore there is little risk that its screen will be scratched by keys or coins.
  • The iPad’s screen is made out of very durable glass. While no-one except Apple and their contract partner knows what exact glass is used for the iPad, you can assume that the glass is very strong. I am using my first generation iPad since the day it came out in Canada, and there is not a single scratch on my screen that you could detect under normal use. UPDATE: Apple has just (March 2, 2012) acknowledged that it uses the famous Gorilla Glass for the iPhone. Its quite likely that Gorilla Glass will be also used for the iPad 3.)
  • Apple sells many iPad accessories in its stores, but it stopped selling screen protector before the original iPad came out in 2010. Hint, hint, hint…

Another reason why screen protectors are a lame idea is that they are damn hard to apply without ending up with a bunch of bubbles and trapped-in dust. I admit, I once bought a screen protector (for a different reason than scratches – see below) in 2010, and I ended up with a lot of dust in between the screen and the film (obviously, I am not the most talented guy). It impaired my using experience so much that I ripped off the film after 30 minutes. Learn from my mistakes and save your money for iPad accessories that are actually useful.


Don’t trust the propaganda!

But why are so many bloggers telling you that screen protectors are a “must-have” iPad accessory? It is because if I told you today that, for example, ZAGG’s screen protectors are the best thing in the world and that you are a fool for not protecting your iPad with it, I would right away make 20% commissions on whatever you are spending on ZAGG’s stuff. I believe that the affiliate programs of ZAGG and other vendors are among the main reasons why so many people out there recommend screen protectors. It is a clever marketing campaign. As somebody who is doing a PhD in Marketing, I find this approach by ZAGG and others quite interesting. But as a consumer and as your fellow academic comrade, I say stay away!

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So please, don’t spend your money on a screen protector, at least if your only worries are scratches. If you worry that your iPad screen and back might get scratched while carrying it around in your bag (I am), get a case or a sleeve (but see item number 2 on this list).

There is only one reason why you can buy a screen protector and still be my friend: The iPad’s glossy screen makes it very prone to reflections, especially when light is shining right onto the screen. A matte screen protector might be a good investment for you if you are struggling with reflections (this was the reason why I tried out a screen protector once). Check out this video to see the matte effect yourself and to learn how to install a screen protector.

But again, in most cases you will be fine without a screen protector. Except for the 30 minutes back in 2010, my iPad’s screen has been all-natural all the time, and I never had any issues with that.

Money saved: $40

Check out the other three items on my list of “must-have” iPad accessories you should never buy (more details coming soon):

  • #2: Apple’s Smart Cover: Save up to $57 with a more stylish alternative that will protect your iPad way better. Or don’t save at all but get a better deal.
  • #3: Magical cleaning potions: Save up to $18 and come to terms with reality again.
  • #4: Apple Care Protection Plan: Save $79 by reading the fine print. UPDATE: It seems like somebody at Apple is reading my blog (ahem…), as the warranty program was updated on March 7 to include warranty from accidental damages. That makes the new Apple Care+ Protection Plan more consumer friendly. However, I am still not convinced that it is a “must-have”.

All together, this list of four iPad accessories you should not buy will save you $194.

UPDATE: When I wrote the original post, the stylus nearly made it on my “Don’t Buy” list. Back then, there weren’t really good styluses out there for academics. But this has changed recently, as you can now buy a stylus that is optimized for handwriting and conceptualizing ideas. If you can fit it in your workflow, a stylus that matches your academic needs can be a useful tool, indeed. You can read more about stylus for academics here.

One accessory that is really and truly a must-have one, at least for academics and anybody else who plans to do some serious writing with the iPad (maybe even in the park), is an external keyboard. For the money of Apple’s Smart Case you can already get really good keyboard cases. Here is a post for how to find the keyboard case that fits your individual writing style best. Alternatively, if you are more about style than function, here are some really nice iPad cases that put Apple’s smart case to shame!

But before you head on to read these posts, please first help academiPad busting the “screen protectors are must-have iPad accessories” myth by sharing this article through the buttons on the left.

Disclaimer: All images by academiPad. While Jo is convinced that this is the best advice you will ever get (as always), you cannot sue him or be mad at him when this advice didn’t work out for you. Please consider sharing this article if you found it useful.

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  1. Jovent says:

    As for Jo, I am very sure that you made this topic based on your own experience with that bad case of screen protector application. Clearly, you do not have much hands on experience and based it your write up on just a few bad applications you messed up. When I mean experience, it means hundreds, or even thousands of different varieties of installations.

    As most people knows, there are 2 types of basic materials used in manufacturing screen protectors. The cheap plastic, and the more popular tempered glass types.

    Cheap plastic screen protectors are gradually fading because they only protect against scratches, requires replacement regularly to maintain screen clarity and appearance. The glass ones, fixes all that, re-application of glass protectors are often not needed unless it shatters due to a heavy hard drop. The point is no longer just about scratching. Reinforcing a separate layer on the screen actually increases its hardness, and reduces the possibility of your device’s screen from shattering GREATLY.

    It isnt merely about Apple Products, Samsung is well know from using Gorilla glass, that does not guarantee you will not end up with a shattered screen if you drop your device.

    My wife has been using a Samsung S4, that is made with the well known Gorilla Glass, but to play safe, I made sure I install a glass screen protector for her. Guess what? She had been using this phone for a year, and altogether, I had replaced her glass screen protector 5 times. Why? Because, my 1 year old son LOVES to steal her phone, hide it in his crib, and throws it out of his crib whenever we aint looking. For all those 5 times, it was only the glass screen protector shattering. Thank god. It costs like $150, to $200 to replace Samsung S4 screen. It cost only $10 – $15 bucks to buy a well made glass protector for the S4. Do you get my point?

    I completely do not agree on you saying that screen protectors are useless. Additionally, my own I-pad Air and I-Phone 5S had their glass protectors shattered once each, but all in all, no damages were found on all the actual screens of these devices.

    To each his own, you may find your style of using these devices not requiring any protectors but a huge number of users out there swears by it.

    Oh and additionally, I really find some good brands of glass screen protectors much smoother and easier to glide my fingers than any of Apple’s and Samsung’s original glass screen. These days, after using a glass protector long enough(6 months to 1 year), even if it isnt damaged, I will still replace them as the smoothness wears out gradually.

    Lastly, do be careful on prices when purchasing glass protectors. Do a little research on pricing as alot of sellers like to overprice and try to sell their wares at a much higher price to lazy and rich buyers with no time to do price comparison.

    (PS: Zagg sucks. Its not just their pricing, their product has more than 1 fault. Zagg protectors gets yellowed easily, edges comes off too quick if application wasnt done properly. Up to 2 weeks waiting period is required for a Zagg product to fuse with the device. The worst part is the tacky feel on all their protectors. Plastic screen protectors are obsolete. Go Glass.)

  2. Tomas says:

    There is additional information about ipad accessories in here:

  3. julian says:

    Jo is totally right here!
    I have 12 iPads (for workshops) and have had iPads since day 1. I have been involved in many 1:1 iPad rollouts involving 100-1000’s of iPads. If a screen is going to break it’s going to break regardless of a thin bit of screen protector. Sure you need a case (lovin’ Toobtab and Gripcase for younger kids) but do I use screen protectors? No! Utter waste of money – just company’s cashing in on folk thinking it’s the responsible thing to do. Buy a case that covers the screen!

  4. Martin Beattie says:

    Buy a tabtoob – makes your iPad almost indestructabil

  5. Lauren says:

    I have the ipad 3 and now I want to sell it and get the 4th
    But now my ipad just went down in price because of two little scratches due to not buying a screen protector.
    And the stupid scratches annoy me so much
    So please do buy a screen protector, it might save you money not buying one but it will bite you in the butt later on when you find a scratch

  6. David says:

    Check this amazing sleeve we manufacture for the ipads

  7. Angeline says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Jo on this. I have been using an iPhone 3GS without a screen protector for several years now, and despite dropping it many times, I do not have scratches on the screen of my phone. The back of the phone though seems more prone to scratches. This is easily solved by getting a case for the phone. I’ve held back on buying screen protectors for the simple reason that it takes away sharpness from the images that Apple is known for an. When I got my new iPad, the screen protector came along free of charge with the case that I bought, so I thought that I might as well put it on. I regretted it, not only because I think it detracts from the overall experience of using an iPad, but because it gives me a headache when I look at the screen for too long. It’s like looking at the world through a pair of unclean glasses.

    • Tabrez Alam says:

      Angeline, I agree with you completely that a screen protector or a phone cover completely messes with the look and feel of any device. I have a Nexus 5 and do not want to either put a screen protector or phone cover to it.

      However, over time I realized that there were were fine scratches both on the screen and the back of my phone and I was not aware of how they got there (as I am generally careful with my phone).

      I have a wireless charger that I use for charging my Nexus 5. However, as the phone sits on the charger and I get a call, in case my phone is on either vibration or ring + vibrate mode, the phone makes this irritating noise due to vibrations. Further, I realized that due to these constant vibrations, those small scratches were arising. Once it even fell of the table and the center of gravity of the entire unit (phone + charger) is not that high and is not stable.

      I was wondering if there was an automated way to stop the vibrations as soon as I put my phone on the charging mode. However, I looked for App in the Android store and could not find a single App that could do so.

      Therefore, I went ahead to make an app for myself. An app that could suppress the vibrations on the phone when I put it on charging mode. I was primarily making it for wireless charging user when I realized that even users with normal chargers need such an App.

      What is the basic idea behind the App?

      How often do we realize that we left our phone on charging, while the phone was either on Vibration/ Ringer + Vibration mode, and typically the phone lies on a rough surface while it charges. During this state, if you receive a phone call, the phone keeps on vibrating of the surface and over time small scratches appear on your phone. In case you left the phone at the corner of the table, your phone may also fall while vibrating! The App works to protect your phone, by suppressing the vibrations while on charging mode. Your phone automatically switches to normal mode with vibration on as soon as you plug it out. The App continuously works in the background so that you do not have to remember to disable vibration all the time.

      You can download the App on Google Play by searching for ‘Scratch Protector’ or Pluggdd.

  8. Tony says:

    I rarely comment on stuff like this, but feel I have to for this. I have no stake in the game being played about why the protectors are sold… just personal experience to share.
    I’ve had an original iPad with a screen protector from a major provider installed the day I bought the iPad. The only compliant I ever had with the protector was the orange-peel effect on it and they’ve come out with a new version which doesn’t have that, but decided to buy other products from them based on the protector quality. Recently the protector got peeled back and dirtied when put in my bag coming back from the beach, so now it’s “naked.” The bare screen feels a lot nicer than the protector, and my stylus works a little better, but I fear for the safety of the screen in this sandy environment. If I were still living in the US, I’d certainly be hunting down the store that provides these protectors for my replacement.
    My wife got an iPad 2 with the Apple cover. I read all the stuff like this article that says you don’t need a protector – even Apple isn’t selling them in their stores, so it must be true. Within a month, she has a few scratches… fortunately on the bezel, so they don’t affect use at all, but they’re not pretty! I have since purchased a cheap screen protector and placed it on hers to prevent further damage. It already has micro-scratches from fine dust on the protector when wiping it clean. My old protector never had such scratches in spite of much more use.
    After this experience, I’m fairly convinced that Apple doesn’t want screen protectors on their devices because it can wreck the feel and the clarity of the screen a little, but also because it is likely the first thing to wear out on the iPad and that obsolescence is an important thing to a manufacturer. Further to that, the cheap protectors are just that – cheap. The more expensive ones last far longer than the cost (and hassle) of replacing the cheap ones.
    So, I’m currently spending the $120 it will take to put the good protectors on my original, her iPad2, and my new iPad3 on order now. That’s far more than my $0.02 worth!

    • Jabalong says:

      You’ve hit the nail on the head here – both of them in this case.

      Apple doesn’t encourage using screen protectors, because it knows many people weren’t buying theirs and so they couldn’t control the quality of the protectors or just as importantly their application. This doesn’t mean Apple doesn’t think they are useful, just that if it can’t control them, why encourage them.

      Secondly, more cynically and maybe more importantly, Apple’s business model is centred around maintaining a fanatical, core customer base that will keep trading up to its latest generation devices. So anything that might slow device obsolescence, like screen life-extending protectors works against this business plan.

      We use screen protectors on all of our touch devices, applied by a guy in a little shop who’s a master at it, and have never regretted it.

    • Jovent says:

      Hi Tony, I am pretty sure that the cheap screen protector that you bought for your wife, wasn’t installed properly. 100% of all cases reporting micro scratches on new cheap plastic screen protectors was because there is a protective film not removed after installing the screen protector. This piece of film is extremely thin and often not noticed unless you are very experienced with screen protector installation. Try to do light scrapes, really light, if its still not coming off, use a small piece of scotch tape right on the edge of your screen and slowly drag. Do email me if you need any other assistance ^^

  9. Arutha says:

    None of the Ipads have Gorilla glass, or least no one can prove it, Apple won’t even comment on it. I think that says it all. I dare you to prove otherwise, or take down/correct this article. People really SHOULD be buying screen protectors for their Ipads.

    • Arutha says:

      Oh and jut FYI, just google the ipad glass test. The Ipads screens break very easily, all 3 of them. Or if you think google search will be prejudice, you can feel free to try http://www.search.com

    • Jo says:

      1. You didn’t seem to have read or understood the article. Apple lists Corning, the manufacturer of the Gorilla Glass brand, as a supplier in their 2012 US Jobs report. It seems likely that they use Corning glass for iPad then, and this is all this article says.
      2. That Apple won’t comment on something says absolutely nothing. Apple hardly comments on anything.
      3. What Apple does not do at all is selling screen protectors in their stores. Strange isn’t it? They sell you covers and everything else, but not screen protectors. Who is selling these screen protectors then??
      4. My guess is that you are selling screen protectors, or that you are making money promoting them. Can it be that you are part of the propaganda machine that tells people they “SHOULD” buy screen protectors? Are you angry that I am calling out the money making scheme behind it? Sorry mate, but this blog is for people who like to be well informed. You can read more about this in academiPad’s Policies at http://www.joachim-scholz.com/academipad/about/policy/

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