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The best iPad screen protectors in 2021

Best iPad screen protectors
(Image credit: Spigen)

Feeling the need to invest in one of the best iPad screen protectors? It's a reasonable enough urge; after all, iPads aren't exactly cheap, so it makes sense to give it all the protection you can in case of accidents. However iPads are also pretty sturdy and a lot less likely to come to grief than your phone, so as long as you're reasonably careful with it then there's no real reason to get screen protector (although you should really get a case for it).

That said, if you have small children with sticky fingers and not much common sense, an iPad screen protector becomes a lot more essential. And if you're using your iPad as an alternative to one of the best drawing tablets or best tablets with a stylus then there's another reason to look into screen protectors, as many of them can provide a more paper-like feel when you're working, as well as eliminating fingerprints and smudges.

Whatever your reason for buying an iPad screen protector, we've done all the searching for you. Read on to discover a selection of protectors for all needs and at a range of price points, and for pretty much every recent iPad model.

The best iPad screen protectors in 2021

Best iPad screen protectors: Paperlike

(Image credit: Paperlike)

01. Paperlike

The best iPad screen protector for artists and designers

Materials: Polyethylene Terephthalate | iPad compatibility: iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad, iPad Mini | Finish: Matte

Feels like paper
Anti-glare finish
Not cheap

The Apple Pencil's a wonderful tool but for many people, drawing on the iPad's glass surface feels wrong compared to working on paper or a graphics tablet. If that sounds familiar, the Paperlike screen protectory may be just what you need. Developed with design professionals and artists in mind, it's made to give you the feel of paper, with a surface filled with tiny microbeads that give you just the right amount of friction: enough to feel what you're doing, but not so much that it wears down your Pencil's tip in no time.

Best iPad screen protectors: Mous Tempered Glass Screen Protector

(Image credit: Mous)

02. Mous Tempered Glass Screen Protector

The best option for serious protection

Materials: 9H tempered glass | iPad compatibility: iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad | Finish: Gloss

Impact-absorbing
Water and oil resistant
Super slim
Relatively pricy

Many iPad screen protectors are made from some form of polyurethane, but if you want serious protection for your iPad that doesn't use environmentally unfriendly plastic, you'll need a tempered glass screen protector. The Mous screen protector is made from 9H tempered glass, giving you plenty of scratch and drop resistance, and it'll also see off unsightly smudges and fingerprints thanks to its water and oil resistant coating. It's also super-thin, coming in at just 0.3mm thick, so you'll hardly notice it's there.

Best iPad screen protectors: Spigen Glas.tR EZ Fit

(Image credit: Spigen)

03. Spigen Glas.tR EZ Fit

The best iPad Air screen protector for pain-free fitting

Materials: 9H tempered glass | iPad compatibility: iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad, iPad Mini | Finish: Gloss

Easy to fit
Tough tempered glass
Incredibly clear
May interfere with Apple Pencil

If the thought of applying an iPad screen protector fills you with fear at the prospect of getting it slightly wrong and ending up with a wonky fit or an air bubble trapped underneath, Spigen's Glas.tR EZ Fit screen protector is the answer to your fears. It's another tempered glass protector that'll give you extra scratch and drop resistance and an oleophobic coating to see off fingerprints, and it comes with its own foolproof installation kit to ensure that getting it exactly in place is a breeze.

Best iPad screen protectors: ESR Paper-Feel

(Image credit: ESR)

04. ESR Paper-Feel

A less pricy iPad screen protector for a paper feel

Materials: Polyethylene Terephthalate | iPad compatibility: iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad | Finish: Matte

Great value
Paper-like feel
Reduces glare
Can be awkward to fit

Looking for a cheaper alternative to the Paperlike? You can get the ESR Paper-Feel for about half the price, and you'll also get two protectors included, which sounds like a pretty sweet deal for us. We can't promise that you'll get the same lovely feel from the Paper-Feel as you do with the Paperlike, but it features a specially-treated surface that's designed to accurately simulate the feeling of writing and drawing on paper, and it's also nicely fingerprint-resistant.

Best iPad screen protectors: Ailun Screen Protector

(Image credit: Ailun)

05. Ailun Screen Protector

A fantastic iPad mini screen protector

Materials: 9H tempered glass | iPad compatibility: iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad, iPad Mini | Finish: Gloss

Ideal for iPad Mini
Tough tempered glass
Dirt cheap

The iPad Mini's a delightful pocket-sized drawing platform, but it's not as well served when it comes to screen protectors, which is a bit of an issue as its inherent portability means it's more likely to come up against the sort of punishment that your phone needs to withstand. There's a great option, though, in the form of Ailun's  screen protector; it's made from 9H tempered glass for excellent scratch and drop resistance and has an oleophobic coating, and it comes at an impressively cheap price.

Best iPad screen protectors: JETech Write Like Paper

(Image credit: JETech)

06. JETech Write Like Paper

A cheap iPad Pro screen protector for a paper feel

Materials: Polyethylene Terephthalate | iPad compatibility: iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad | Finish: Matte

Paper-like feel
Good price
Easy to fit
May degrade screen clarity

Another budget alternative to the Paperlike, the JETech Write Like Paper screen protector is made from high quality matte PET film that gives your iPad a more paper-like feel and also reduces glare while making your screen more scratch- and fingerprint-resistant. It's easy to fit without ending up with air bubbles; one thing to bear in mind, though, is that JETech warns that it may affect the clarity of the screen. If you want to give your iPad Pro 12.9 inch more of a paper texture at a bargain price, though, it might be worth the sacrifice.

Best iPad screen protectors: Olixar Screen Protector

(Image credit: Olixar)

07. Olixar Screen Protector

The cheapest iPad Pro screen protector we can find

Materials: Thermoplastic Polyurethane | iPad compatibility: iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad | Finish: Gloss

Great price
Installation kit included
Does the job
Not the best protection

Looking for the cheapest possible iPad screen protector for your 12.9 inch Pro? You're not going to get much better than this. The Olixar screen protector is designed to prevent screen scratching and damage from drops, bumps, and scrapes while retaining touch sensitivity. It features an oleophobic coating to reduce fingerprints and smudges, and it won't affect the clarity of the display. It comes with an installation kit to help you get it in place without the dreaded air bubbles, and it also comes with a two-year guarantee.

Best iPad screen protectors: Belkin Screenforce True Privacy

(Image credit: Belkin)

08. Belkin Screenforce True Privacy

The best iPad screen protector for privacy

Materials: Plastic | iPad compatibility: iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad | Finish: Matte

Excellent privacy screen
Removable and washable
Little physical protection
Expensive

Finally, here's the perfect screen protector for anyone who wants to prevent passers-by from peering at their work. The Belkin Screenforce True Privacy doesn't offer very much in the way of physical protection for your iPad; what it does provide is a privacy screen so that anyone looking over your shoulder sees nothing but darkness. Unlike other screen protectors the Belkin is designed to be removed when you don't need it (after all, it's not something that you're going to want to have in place all the time) and it's washable too.

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Jim McCauley is a writer, editor and occasional podcaster, and is available for space parties.