Months ago, I had the chance to test out the renown Paperlike screen protectors. I’m a huge iPad user, and typically bring along my 2018 iPad Pro and iPad mini 5 as my daily drivers in place of a MacBook.
The main draw of the Paperlike screen protector is that it transforms the glossy, smooth surface of the iPad into one that’s well … Paperlike.
I don’t consider myself anything approximating an artist, but I do use the Apple Pencil on a semi-regular basis for hand-written notes on Notability. With Apple doubling down on standalone iPadOS, which brings added emphasis on Apple Pencil support and viability, it goes without saying that the Pencil experience on iPads is only going to be more important.
We’re in the final leg of iPadOS Beta, with its release slated for sometime later this year. Along with iPadOS, PencilKit will also mean that more applications will also support Pencil input, with a revamped Pencil palette that app developers can incorporate into their apps with just three lines of code. Latency has also been further reduced to 9ms from an already-impressive 20ms, which should only serve to pull more artists over into Apple’s fold.
My Paperlike screen protectors were mailed in a neat A4-sized cardboard envelope, which had corrugation that prevented itchy-fingered mailmen from folding the protectors.
Each of the Paperlike protectors came in pairs for backup just in case you ruin your first attempt, so the pressure of application is somewhat mitigated. Also included are links to Paperlike’s own application tutorial, which gives the ideal way to install the product.
In the envelope, Paperlike includes alcohol wipes, a small microfibre cloth and a small sheet of stickers to help make the installation that bit more fool-proof.
Basically, installation starts by overlaying the Paperlike sheet precisely over the iPad, using the edges (for my 2018 iPad Pro) or the Home Button (for my iPad mini and iPad Air) for alignment.
The two long rectangular stickers are then applied on the left edge of the protector, sticking the protector down to the iPad like a hinge. You then flip open the Paperlike sheet and proceed to clean the surface of the iPad thoroughly. Paperlike provides a pair of stickers to effectively remove debris from your iPad display.
After scrubbing the surface with the provided alcohol swab, you quickly remove the inner layer of the plastic sheet to reveal the actual bare surface of the Paperlike. Swiftly flip the Paperlike back onto the speckless, glossy surface of the iPad, and then scrape the top side to squeeze out any remaining air pockets. Remove the top sheet and voila – it’s done.
I managed to install the protectors on all my iPads on my first try, and I would hardly consider myself anything of a DIY wizard.
Using the Paperlike screen protector for its intended use – creating a paper-like surface for Apple Pencil shenanigans – there’s little to fault. You do get a perfect rendition of the pencil-on-paper sibilant feedback, you do get more purchase for more precise strokes, and you do eliminate the harsh knocking you would otherwise have on the bare iPad screen.
As a screen protector, it’s where it gets divisive. I’m a photographer and I do videos sometimes. The micro-texture of the Paperlike protector creates a kind of roughness on the display visually, which creates an overall hazy image with something approximating colour noise.
That means visual content basically doesn’t look as good as on a bare iPad display. Now, it seems the Paperlike is more con than pro, but that’s not the case – bear with me.
You see, with such a glossy display as is the default on an iPad, fingerprints accumulate really easily especially for individuals with sweaty palms like myself. I’ve also got the Smart Keyboard Case, which just means that more finger grime gets transferred ever more so often. Visual content really doesn’t look
What’s worse, using the iPad on a flat surface like a table creates terrible reflections that make it difficult to use especially while reading or writing with Pencil. The Paperlike protector provides a matte surface that cuts out the glare from harsh overhead spotlights that I encounter at numerous coffee shops.
It also does a beautiful job of minimising greasy fingerprints, although it isn’t exactly fingerprint-proof.
The no matter the model of iPad, the Paperlike protector will set you back SGD 44.52. Shipping is free, but will cost you EUR 39 (approx SGD 60) should you opt for door-to-door tracking. That comes complimentary with three sets purchased.
Now, S$44.52 isn’t cheap at all. But if you use the Apple Pencil often, or perhaps even earn a living from illustration, you appreciate an anti-glare surface, and can even overlook the lowered-resolution effect it produces, the Paperlike protector is a steal.