Ever since my wife got me the 2nd Generation Apple Pencil to go with my 2018 iPad Pro, I’ve fallen in love with it. I’ve always been a ‘pen and paper’ type of person. My desk would usually have 2 or 3 notebooks and a handful of pens scattered around. I’d write down anything from random notes to reminders.
Since buying the iPad, and later being gifted the Pencil, I’ve transitioned to a largely ‘paper free’ life. Part of that is down to a wish to declutter; another part is a desire to be able to find a specific note easier and quicker. If I’m honest, it’s also just ‘cool’ to use.
While the Apple Pencil itself, with the iPad, is surprisingly accurate and easy to use – the hard, glossy screen doesn’t feel like paper. Part of me didn’t mind this too much, but another part missed the feeling of writing. It was less of an issue using the ‘Pen’ style, but when using pencil styles, you do feel a little detached from it to an extent.
I’ve spent a few weeks looking at ways to improve the experience. The more the experience is like using a pen (or pencil) and paper, the more enjoyable it’s likely to be – and thus, I’m more likely to stick with this workflow.
The solution is a matte screen protector. The biggest name in that respect is ‘Paperlike’, a Kickstarter product created purely to make the iPad screen feel like paper when using the Apple Pencil. At the time of writing, these are £29 from Amazon UK (same price for all sizes and models). I read some reviews of these and watched a few videos. There are plenty of positive reviews, but it quickly became apparent that a lot of them had been reviewed by people that had been gifted them by the company. The ‘unbiased’ reviews were more mixed – some loved it, others hated it.
I wanted a screen protector for my iPad anyway, but I was unsure if spending £29 on one was too much of a gamble if it didn’t live up to the promise. Especially when a regular, ‘glossy’ protector could be found for less than £10.
The Moko ‘Paper-Like’
Into the mix comes the Moko ‘Paper-Like’. There’s no denying that the name of this product is deliberately intended to appeal to those looking for the ‘real’ paperlike product. The reviews were few, but nothing sounded alarmbells to me – and it was almost half the price. I decided to ‘take a punt’ as it was only fractionally more expensive than a ‘normal’ screen protector, so I didn’t stand to lose as much by trying.
The packaging that arrived didn’t itself include the ‘Paper-Like’ name. The outer packaging was a cardboard sleeve, which I’d like to have been a bit thicker – but thanks to Amazon’s habit of overpackaging stuff, it arrived unscathed anyway. Included in the pack is the protector itself – which is wrapped within the sleeve and protected with a removable film on both sides – a small microfibre cloth, alcohol swap, dust absorber (which is just a semi-sticky sticker), brief instruction manual and some additional guiding stickers.
Having never installed a screen protector before, I was somewhat nervous about doing so – especially one this big. However, thanks to the fact the film is relatively rigid, it wasn’t too difficult to do. Once the screen has been thoroughly cleaned and dried with the alcohol swap and microfibre cloth, the protector was positioned relatively easily. It took me two attempts to put it in place. Though not ‘perfectly’ aligned, it’s ‘good enough’ – out by around 1mm from one end to the other.
The most time-consuming element is getting rid of the air bubbles. The big ones are relatively easy to remove – I used either the microfibre cloth or a card, depending on the size of the bubble. Once the final protective film was removed from the protector, a few smaller air bubbles became apparent. At that stage I used a microfibre cloth alone to remove them, to prevent the risk of scratching the protector (though I have no idea if that’s a risk – I simply didn’t want to risk it). While this wasn’t a huge task, it was time-consuming. The whole process from unpacking to it being ‘ready’ came in at around 30 minutes.
Does it feel like paper?
I bought this with relatively low expectations. At half the price of a product that itself had mixed reviews, I wasn’t expecting it to be great. I have however been pleasantly surprised. Without a doubt, it makes using the Apple Pencil feel much more like writing on real paper. It’s not 100% the same, but it’s pretty damn close – certainly as close as I think is realistically possible. There’s a feeling of friction, like paper. That it makes the screen very slightly less vibrant adds to that feel.
What I didn’t expect however is that it sounds like using paper too. It’s quite uncanny how similar it sounds. One of the most significant issues with using the iPad screen ‘naked’ with the pencil is the constant ‘tap tapping’ sound. Irritating to those around you, I’m sure. That sound is replaced by one of using a pencil on a piece of paper.
What about general iPad use?
I primarily use my iPad for 3 things – note taking, writing (using the keyboard and/or pencil) and reading. All three of these tasks are improved with this protector. Anything that involves using the pencil is vastly improved. Even reading feels more akin to a paper-based book due to the texture of the film and slightly duller screen.
I will occasionally use the iPad for general web browsing or watching videos too. There’s no doubt that this protector makes the screen less glossy and ‘vibrant’. It’s slightly dull, and the whites are no longer clear white. However, you do need to study it fairly carefully to spot this. Unless your primary use of the iPad is watching or playing stuff, it’s a complete non-issue. For me, I can quite happily live with a slightly duller display in favour of the huge improvement to it as a ‘work’ and study device.
The Moko ‘Paper-Like’ is available to buy from Amazon