Can the Apple Pencil Scratch My iPad Screen?

By Tim Chesonis •  Updated: 03/13/20 •  7 min read

We all know that the iPad has a beautiful display, especially the iPad Pro models that offer pro-motion at 120 hrz. The glass used is touch and can withstand a lot of abuse, but are there any circumstances under which the Apple Pencil could possibly scratch the surface of the iPad?

An Apple Pencil can scratch the surface of your iPad, but only if the tip of the pencil has embedded foreign debris and that embedded debris is pressed into the surface of the iPad. To prevent your Apple Pencil from scratching the surface of your iPad, simply inspect the tip of your Apple Pencil before each use.

We are going to look at the make up of the tip of the Apple Pencil and discuss what preventive measures can be taken in order to prevent your iPad from experiencing either regular scratches or even micro-scratches on the surface of your iPad. 

The Apple Pencil was Designed for the iPad

Five years after the first iPad was released, Apple released the Apple Pencil.  It is the perfect complement to the iPad, bringing about a far richer experience for the end user.  Simply put, with the Apple Pencil, you can do so much more today than you could when the iPad was first introduced.  Tens of thousands of applications have been designed specifically with the Apple Pencil in mind.

The Apple Pencil allows for artists of all ages to express themselves using a myriad of design applications. It allows students to write hand-written notes while in class, and even allows one to navigate between applications by simply tapping on the screen. 

The surface of the iPad is made out of a smooth hardened glass, designed to allow the Apple Pencil to effortlessly glide across the surface of the display, and the tip of Apple Pencil is made out of a hardened plastic, perfectly designed for use with an iPad.  

Preventive Measures to You Can Take

Below are three preventive measures that you can take to ensure that the tip of your Apple Pencil will never scratch the surface of your iPad.  

Wipe Before Every Use

Get into the habit of wiping the tip of your Apple Pencil before every use. You don’t need to necessarily use rubbing alcohol or any solvents to do so. I’m talking about simply pinching the tip of the Apple Pencil with your index finger and thumb, and wiping it free from any foreign debris if any are found.  

Because your fingertips are sensitive and can feel even the smallest foreign object, this preventive measure is very effective.

Inspect for Embedded Foreign Debris

If you were to drop your Apple Pencil, micro-specs of dust, dirt, stone, or sand could easily embed in the top of your Apple Pencil. If this happens and you use it without taking preventive measures, your Apple Pencil could serve as an instrument that introduces micro-scratches onto the surface of your iPad. 

It goes without saying, that if you drop your Apple Pencil, be sure to thoroughly inspect the tip of your Apple Pencil to ensure that the tip is free from foreign debris.  This may sound obvious, however the key here is to be very thorough. You want to make certain that there are no specs of sand-like debris that find their way into the tip of the Apple Pencil.

If sand-like debris finds its way into the tip of an Apple Pencil, and you were to simply draw normally on the surface of your iPad, you just very well-made scratch your iPad. The scratches may not be deep but you could easily cause micro-scratches, which can easily be seen when the iPad when the light hits it just right. 

One more thing.  If you drop your Apple Pencil, and the tip of the pencil becomes damaged, (as in, you can see a dent in the tip of the Apple Pencil itself), do not use it.  That “dent” could introduce sharp edges that could cause micro-scratches in the display on your iPad.  Don’t take the risk of using it thinking, “Well, I just won’t write on the dented side”.  That is a micro-scratch waiting to happen.

Don’t Press so Hard

The Apple Pencil is pressure sensitive, meaning that it reacts to how hard you press on the display when it glides across the surface of the iPad. The harder you press, the darker the line appears.  However you do not need to press the hard in order for it to deliver the desired effect.

How hard is too hard?  If you find that you are pressing your Apple Pencil harder than it would take a number to lead pencil to break, then you are pressing too hard.. In fact, if you are pressing that hard, scratching the surface of your iPad Should be the least of your worries, because if you were to press your Apple Pencil that hard onto the surface of your iPad, it could do some serious damage to the display of the iPad itself.  

In other words, don’t leave your small children unattended with your iPad and an Apple Pencil, as they may stab it attempting to make “dots” on what they are drawing on the iPad.  Those dots could easily become permanent spots, regardless of which application you run.  The display on the iPad was not designed for such abuse. 

Replace the Apple Pencil Tips

The Apple Pencil tip is designed to last forever. However, if you find embedded foreign objects within the tip, or if you have dropped the Apple Pencil on its tip, causing damage, you will need to replace it. 

Fortunately, replacing the top of the Apple Pencil is easy to do and inexpensive to replace if you need to, however, did you know that when you purchase the Apple Pencil, it comes with an extra tip in the box?  If you need to replace the top of your Apple Pencil, do yourself a favor and check the white box it came in. If, for some reason, you can’t find the replacement tip that came with your Apple pencil, you can purchase a set of Apple Pencil tips at the Apple Store for only $19, or you can purchase them online from Apple’s website. Again, if you find any damage to your Apple Pencil tip, simply replace it. 

Simply unscrew the tip counter clockwise until the tip comes off of the pencil, but be careful not to damage or bend the protruding metal piece from the Apple Pencil. 

Now take the new Apple Pencil tip and gently screw it in clockwise. Be careful not to tighten it too tight, just finger tight. That’s all there is to it. 

Does a Glass Screen Protector Affect the Apple Pencil?

If a glass screen protector is applied to your iPad correctly, it will not affect you use of the Apple Pencil, however, if you apply a glass screen protector incorrectly, it absolutely will affect how your Apple Pencil will respond when using it.

Air pockets, air bubbles, hair, or dust particles that reside between the glass screen protector and your iPad will prevent the tip of your Apple Pencil from coming into contact with the surface of your iPad, which, of course, will prevent it from delivering the desired affect. It is highly recommended that if you do decide to use a glass screen protector, that you have it professionally applied to ensure that it is free of any and all foreign debris.

Closing Thoughts

The Apple Pencil is a beautiful instrument that will make for a far richer experience, whether you are an artist, or want to use it for Excel spreadsheets, or simply to navigate within applications.  The bottom line is that if you simply take 3 seconds to thoroughly inspect your Apple Pencil before use, you won’t scratch the surface of your iPad when using it.

Tim Chesonis

Tim has been helping people with computers needs for several years, and he loves to help people succeed. He brings a wealth of wisdom and insight from an entrepreneur's perspective and enjoys freelance writing. In fact, when he's not writing an article, you might find him binge-watching Suits or formatting his computer . . . again, just for fun. To learn more about Tim, click here.