Hi I’m Gidon from thetechnologyman.com.
I use my Apple Pencil mainly for writing notes on my iPad, but despite several attempts,
I find writing on the bare glass screen unnatural. If you feel the same way, pretty much any
matte screen protector will improve the experience. I released a video a few months ago comparing
the quite expensive PaperLike matte screen protector against the cheapest one I could
find on Amazon. I’ll have a link to that review in the on-screen card and in the description
below. I did marginally prefer the feel of the PaperLike,
but on a basic iPad which doesn’t have the laminated screen of all the other iPads in
the range, the small air gap underneath the glass resulted in a slightly milky appearance
with the PaperLike attached. This was very noticeable reading text and more so when you
weren’t looking straight on. With the newer iPads and all the iPad Pros
with their laminated screens, that don’t have the air gap, the reduction in sharpness
is not as apparent but there were complaints of display noise, which I personally didn’t
really notice in everyday use. PaperLike was originally launched on a crowd
funded KickStarter campaign. Two years on, they’ve just started a new Kickstarter campaign
for PaperLike version 2 and based on my last review they sent me an early sample to try
out. The two improvements they’re citing are
more resistance when drawing and writing, and higher transparency with less display
noise. So I thought I’d give it a try.
Installation It took me a few days to summon up the courage
to peel off my perfectly installed PaperLike 1 and try out the new and improved version.
I don’t have the basic iPad anymore – I’m using PaperLike with a 10.5” iPad Pro. There
are no improvements to the installation procedure which despite their very helpful video guides
is still a tricky process. With my early sample I didn’t get the guide
and dust stickers, but just used Scotch tape which works fine. PaperLike 2 is the exact
same thickness as PaperLike 1 at 0.12mm – just a fraction thicker than printer paper.
You line up the PaperLike and then attach some tape to act as a hinge to install the
protector like a book cover, with side one facing down. Since I’d just peeled off an
existing protector my screen was very clean, but I probably still should have cleaned it
with the included wet and dry cloths. I tried to pick up any rogue dust particles
with some more Scotch tape. You can then peel back side one’s protective film letting
the PaperLike stick to the iPad’s glass, hoping that no dust manages to sneak in.
I had a lot of air bubbles to deal with that needed to be directed to the closest side
of the screen with a plastic card protected with the dry cloth.
Then you can peel of side two and attempt to remove any remaining bubbles.
I was still left with quite a few bubbles that I couldn’t shift. Some disappeared
over the next couple of days in use. Some that must have formed around a dust particle,
were still there despite my best efforts to keep everything dust free. You don’t see
them when using the iPad but with the screen turned off it looks a bit rubbish.
A few days later I installed the spare protector without filming the process and all the associated
lighting paraphernalia that accompanies the filming – that doesn’t help to keep the
dust at bay. I was super careful and got a better result, but still not perfect. If you
get a dust bubble near the edge of the screen and you’re feeling brave, you can carefully
lift up the side of the PaperLike with some Scotch tape and use another piece of Scotch
tape to grab the offending dust particle. Alignment is a little easier with the new
version: it’s very slightly smaller than PaperLike 1 so there’s a larger gap around
the edge. This should also help a bit if you’re using it with a case – the lip of a case can
lift up the PaperLike when it’s very close to the edge of the iPad. Also the cutouts
for the Home button and camera have been enlarged – which also makes alignment slightly less
critical. But I still wish they’d improved the installation
procedure with this second iteration. It’s just as hard to install dust and bubble-free
as PaperLike 1 which is disappointing. I don’t think it’s unreasonable at the price of
PaperLike to include an installation frame. It would make the installation easier and
quicker and I think it would help with dust, since you could keep the PaperLike completely
face down while you peel off the protective film – the part of the process where dust
can creep in, even following PaperLike’s installation procedures to a tee.
In use It certainly feels rougher than the previous
version, although I didn’t really have any complaints with the previous texture. The
new protector uses what PaperLike describe as Nanodots Surface Technology which is meant
to produce a rougher surface with less refraction. I don’t know whether my PaperLike 1 has
already lost a bit of its bite, but my initial impression of PaperLike 2 was that it felt
just too rough in comparison to what I was used to, especially using my fingers on the
screen which seemed to almost get stuck trying to slide around. And I initially found I had
less control with the pencil, especially as my writing got smaller.
But it’s hard to say whether I quickly got used to it, or if the initial grab of a new
film wears off within a few hours of use. Either way after using it for a day or so
I found writing on it fine and certainly no worse than with PaperLike 1, but I can’t
say I really noticed any significant improvement either. I do still much prefer using the Apple
Pencil on a screen protector like this, and find it hard to go back to writing on plain
glass. And it’s subtle, but there is a more consistent writing and drawing experience
using PaperLike 1 and now 2 compared to other matte protectors I’ve tried.
It does still feel rougher to the touch though which is how I interact with the iPad most
of the time and I’m still getting used to that – it has a pretty similar sensation to
dragging your finger on a piece of paper. I did notice the clarity was indeed better,
not by a massive amount and I’m not sure it’ll be visible in the footage by the time
it’s uploaded to YouTube. But it’s noticeable nonetheless. And the colour noise which is
only really present with a bright white background, was minimal. Overall everything looks pretty
crisp on my iPad Pro. You’re still not going to forget you have a screen protector on,
but it’s not significantly interfering with the iPad’s display and the almost complete
lack of glare does make general viewing more comfortable.
I’m not able to test this on the basic iPad with the air gap, but I’d imagine the better
transparency would improve things more dramatically. Please let me know in the comments if you
get to try PaperLike 2 with a basic iPad. Conclusions
It’s good to see a company listening to feedback and continually developing their
product. PaperLike 2 does have a rougher texture than their previous version and the transparency
is indeed improved. This is quite an achievement since you’d imagine these two features would
directly compete with each other. I personally didn’t have an issue with the
roughness of the first version of PaperLike, and took a day or two to get used to the new
texture. But after another week of using the PaperLike 2 everyday I can’t say I really
noticed any difference over the first version, writing and occasionally drawing with the
Apple Pencil. I do still prefer the consistency of PaperLike screen protectors over other
matte protectors I’ve tried. Where you do notice the rougher texture is
with normal interaction with the iPad using your fingers. They have managed to make it
feel, well quite a lot like paper! This takes a bit of getting used to, even coming from
PaperLike 1 let along the smooth glass of a bare iPad.
For me the biggest upgrade is the improved transparency with this new version. Text and
photos are a little crisper. Together with its anti-glare properties, I now prefer using
the iPad with the PaperLike. But all this comes at a price. PaperLike 2
is going to be priced at €34 which is €5 more than the already expensive PaperLike
1. It’s cheaper while the Kickstarter campaign is running so check the link down below to
see if any discounts are still available. But even so it’s a lot of money to spend
on a plastic screen protector, and there are matte screen protectors on Amazon costing
less than a third of the price. In my tests they might not offer quite the consistency
of PaperLike with an Apple Pencil but the difference is fairly subtle, especially for
casual use. And there’s no improvement to the installation
process, which is still difficult to complete without any dust bubbles. But perhaps there’s
no easy solution here. If you already have PaperLike 1 perfectly
installed on your iPad I’m not sure you’ll find it worth upgrading. Unless you have an
iPad without a laminated screen where the improved transparency will likely be more
significant. But if you’ve been considering PaperLike,
I think the improved clarity alone is enough reason to go for the new version.
What are you thoughts on PaperLike? Have you tried it? How does it compare to other, cheaper,
matte screen protectors you’ve tried? I’d be interested to know your experiences.
Don’t forget to check out my video comparing PaperLike to the cheapest matte screen protector
I could find on Amazon, if you haven’t already. And as always, if you have any questions,
please ask – I read every comment and will do my best to respond.
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Thanks for watching!