Six Ways to Protect Your Apple iPad

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Are you one of the masses who have either pre-ordered the third-generation iPad, or plan to brave the crowds at the Apple Store and other retailers to pick one up first-hand this Friday? You’d better take some steps to protect that investment.

It’s nice that Apple continues to launch new and improved devices while maintaining the same prices as the previous versions, but $500 and up is still a lot of money. Imagine how devastating it would be to shatter the display or spill cup of coffee on your iPad a few weeks after you buy it.

Here are six things you can do to protect your iPad for your own use, and preserve its resale value for when the next iPad comes along.

A screen protector like the one on this iPhone prevents scratches on your touchscreen display.
1. Use a Screen Protector

The iPad is a touchscreen device, so the display is going to get a workout. Apple uses glass that is strong and scratch resistant, but it’s not impermeable--I have an original iPad with scratches on the glass to prove it.

There are lots of options out there for screen protectors. You can pick up do-it-yourself screen protector kits at just about any retailer that sells the iPad. The problem with screen protectors is that they have to be applied perfectly, and it’s not easy. Your display has to be pristine and lint free, and you have to be very careful to apply the screen protector without any air bubbles.

Personally, I recommend spending a little extra like at one of those mall kiosks and let someone else put the screen protector on for you.

2. Use a Case

Even with a screen protector, you don’t want to expose the iPad display to unnecessary abuse when it’s not even in use. Apple sells a reticulated iPad Smart Cover that automatically turns the iPad on when it's opened using magnets. It can also fold back to prop the device up for better typing or viewing.

That is just one option, though, and there are plenty of alternatives. Many—like the iPad Smart Cover—only protect the display side of the iPad. The metal back side is also prone to scratches, so you may want to consider a full case that protects both sides of the iPad.

My problem with cases like those is that they often protect the iPad (or iPhone) at the expense of both aesthetic beauty and practical aspects of the tablet. Part of the appeal of the iPad or iPhone is how thin it is. Encasing it in a giant rubber or hard plastic case might protect it, but it also makes it ugly and bulky.

3. Protect It From Liquids

It goes without saying that water and techno gadgets don’t mix. You shouldn’t go swimming with your smartphone in your pocket, and you shouldn’t use your iPad as a coaster for your coffee mug.

I’ve had light rain fall on my iPad or iPhone with no issue. I’ve also used my original iPad as a digital recipe book in the kitchen and splattered a thing or two on it occasionally. Those things just wipe away easily without incident.

The obvious solution is to simply keep your iPad a safe distance away from any liquid that could actually spill on it and possibly seep in to fry the internal components. For additional peace of mind, though, you could explore the possibility of using something like Liquipel to give your iPad a protective layer against liquids.

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