Apple’s current iPad line includes five models: iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini 2, iPad mini 4, and iPad Pro. Each tablet has different dimensions, so each one requires a different-size case. We’ve spent more than 60 hours on research and formal testing of dozens of case models, and put in hundreds of hours of real-life use, to find the best picks for each iPad. We’ve focused our recent efforts on the iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4, and iPad Pro, but we also have picks for the legacy models.
The best case to protect and prop up the iPad Air 2 is Apple’s Smart Case. We reached this conclusion after 20 hours of research and testing plus hundreds of hours of using both the nearly identical version for the original iPad Air and this model. The lightest case we looked at, it makes the iPad easier to hold than other cases do, and it’s the only one we tested that provides complete coverage, including protection for the iPad’s buttons. The Smart Case’s premium leather feels much nicer than the finish on cheaper cases, too.
Apple’s case is pricey, but it’s money well spent. Some cases surpass the Smart Case in a single respect, such as in the level of protection or adjustability, but the Smart Case offers the best balance of performance, fit, and finish. It ranks at or near the top of every test category: weight, thinness, quality of materials, and amount of protection.
You can roll the Smart Case’s screen cover into a triangular stand that provides two angles for different uses: an upright angle for screen viewing and a lower angle for on-screen typing (though the angles aren’t adjustable). The case is available in 15 colors that look equally appropriate at home, in the office, or at school, and Apple also offers a PRODUCT(RED) edition with proceeds going to charity.
If you’re on a stricter budget, CaseCrown’s Omni is a good alternate pick. It isn’t as nice as Apple’s case, but you can’t expect it to be at such a relatively low price. Still, the Omni offers most of the same features as the Smart Case does, with the exception of button coverage. Its upright viewing angle is slightly less steep, which can be annoying if you’re using your tablet in a cramped airplane seat.
After 10 hours of research and testing, we can say that our favorite case for the iPad mini 4 so far is Khomo’s Dual Case. It’s inexpensive, it’s protective, and it comes in a huge variety of colors. You won’t find a lot of competition in iPad mini cases these days, but this is the best pick among them.
Our favorite iPad Pro cases are great for both the 9.7-inch and 12.9-inch models. For a simple and cheap option, we recommend Khomo’s Dual (9.7-inch or 12.9-inch). It’s bare-bones but surprisingly nice for the price, and it feels well-built.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $26.
If you’d prefer an iPad Pro case that can hold the Apple Pencil too, we were truly impressed by iVapo’s Slim Folio Case. It’s actually more protective than the MoKo model, it’s the slimmest Pencil-holding case we’ve found in our research, and you can get it for a great price.
I was the accessories editor at iLounge for a little more than three years. During my tenure, I reviewed more than 1,000 products, most of which were cases. That number spans multiple generations of Apple products, from the iPhone 4 to the iPad Air and everything in between. I’ve probably handled more iPad cases than almost anyone on the planet, which gives me a particularly experienced perspective and depth of knowledge when it comes to cases.
The iPad is essentially a slate of two fragile materials: breakable glass and scratchable, dentable aluminum. Although the Air 2 has less surface area than previous Apple tablets, you still have plenty of room to do damage. You also need to consider the risk from keys, coins, or whatever else might be floating around in your bag. It’s worth spending some money to protect hardware that costs between $270 and $1,080, especially since an out-of-warranty screen repair costs up to $600.
In addition, a big advantage to most iPad cases, and particularly those we looked at for this piece, is their functionality above and beyond simple protection that can actually elevate the experience of using an iPad instead of detracting from it. For example, many have screen covers that fold into stands, propping the tablet up into positions suitable for typing or movie viewing. This feature means you won’t have to spend money or bag space on a separate stand.
To find the best iPad cases, we first turned to the big-name, established accessory makers, including companies such as Griffin Technology, Incipio, and Speck.
Next we searched Amazon, where we found a plentiful selection of iPad cases, mostly from lesser-known companies and many of which appeared to be coming from the same OEM factories. We restricted our search to the best-selling cases and those with more than 100 reviews averaging four stars or higher. Many iPad cases are listed on the same Amazon page as versions for previous-generation iPads, meaning the ratings weren’t all for the current editions; still, good reviews for a case designed for other iPads are likely to indicate that the vendor generally gets the fit and finish right.
We also had certain requirements that helped us narrow down our results:
For each case we tested, we first measured for thickness and weight. Then we folded the screen covers into their various stand positions and measured the angles while also determining whether each one held its shape (usually using embedded magnets) even without the tablet resting on it. The next step was to test how well the screen cover stayed in place when closed, which we did by using a flat palm to exert a moderate amount of force up and down, replicating what might happen when the iPad is being jostled in a bag. We also held each case in the air, face down, to see if its screen cover would flop open.
We recommend Apple’s Smart Case as the best pick for most iPad Air 2 users. It offers more thorough coverage than any case we’ve yet tested. Weighing 144 grams, it’s the lightest of the bunch by 47 g—that’s about the same weight as a medium egg, which is very noticeable in an iPad. It also measures 10.7 millimeters thick with the iPad inside, only 0.4 mm more than the thinnest case in our roundup. And finally, it’s the most aesthetically pleasing of those we looked at: Made of a beautiful, aniline-dyed leather, it both looks and feels like a truly premium case.
Naturally, the Smart Case increases the iPad’s size, but it doesn’t take away from the experience of using the tablet—in fact, you could even say that the case improves on the experience. The soft leather is a nice contrast to the tablet’s cold aluminum chassis, and having the built-in screen cover/stand makes the iPad more useful.
The Smart Case has improved significantly since the first model launched alongside the third-generation iPad. I was reviewing cases at iLounge at the time, and I gave that case a flat B rating. And while the iPad 2/3/4 versions of the Smart Case were also available in less-expensive polyurethane, Apple offers the iPad Air versions only in leather.
Like all the cases we tested, the Smart Case is a one-piece unit consisting of a semirigid rear shell that holds the iPad and an attached cover that protects the tablet’s screen. The shell is lined with microfiber except for the area mirroring the radio antenna at the top of cellular-enabled versions of the tablet—the interior of the case is smooth there. Installation is as easy as it gets, with the iPad popping into the case with relatively little force. A protective lip extends about 1 mm above the entire perimeter of the tablet. That feature isn’t as important as on an iPhone case because a good iPad case already covers the tablet’s screen, but it’s still a nice touch if you happen to drop the tablet while using it.
Out of all the cases we tested, the Smart Case is the only one to include button protection. The sleep/wake button and volume buttons each have a press-through button cover, easily identifiable by touch. This design allows you to operate the buttons without decreasing their tactility or requiring extra pressure.
The Smart Case also has the best-tailored openings for the iPad’s ports. Whereas other cases opt for large, all-encompassing openings in the general vicinity of the ports and speakers, Apple opted for precision cuts at the exact locations, which gives the case a much nicer finish. For the headphone jack on top, the case has a 6-mm-diameter opening that’s large enough to accept most plugs. On the bottom edge, you’ll find an oval-shaped opening for the Lightning port that measures 13 mm by 8 mm—large enough to accept the plug of any of our top Lightning cable picks and even Amazon’s cables, which are larger than most. Flanking it on each side are 14 small holes matching the speaker openings underneath. Many cases have just a single opening stretching from the outer edge of one speaker to the other, so the attention to detail here is especially appreciated.
Similarly, our review unit’s camera hole was perfectly centered. The openings for the iPad’s two microphones were mildly askew, but not so much that they covered the mics at all.
The Smart Case’s screen cover lines up precisely with the edges of the shell, except for along the left edge, where a 4.7-mm spine—the piece that connects the front of the case to the back—juts out. The cover is divided into three panels that get progressively thinner from left to right. The right edge magnetically connects to the left when folded, creating a triangular shape that you can use to hold the iPad at a 10-degree typing angle or a 59-degree upright-viewing angle. Those figures are both just slightly lower than the averages of the cases we tested; we found them to be comfortable and suitable for their respective purposes.
When reviewing cases for the original iPad Air, we cited screen-cover issues as one of the main reasons the Air Smart Case didn’t wind up as our top pick. This time around, our testing showed that the cover works as expected and holds its position well. If pushed with deliberate force, the cover can slide up or down, but only if you really push it. With a more moderate level of pressure, it stays where it’s supposed to, and the magnets are even strong enough to hold the cover against the iPad when you flip the whole thing upside down.
On Amazon, the Smart Case currently has an overall rating of 4½ stars (out of five) across 121 reviews. We found fewer reviews on Apple’s website, where 47 people, as of this writing, have left reviews that work out to four stars overall. On iLounge, editor-in-chief Phil Dzikiy awarded the case a B rating, saying, “the iPad Air 2 Smart Case is still a high-quality leather case that works well and earns our general recommendation.” Dzikiy does call out the thickness of the case, even though it’s 1 mm thinner than the previous version.
We also like the convenience of Apple’s one-year limited warranty on its accessories: If something goes wrong with the case, you can take it to the Genius Bar at your local Apple Store or call up Apple Care support for a replacement. The fine print states the warranty doesn’t cover abuse, so it’ll be up to the technician to decide if your wear and tear are covered. Apple staffers tend to be pretty lenient, but we can’t make any guarantees that they’ll go above and beyond what they’re supposed to do.
The biggest drawback to the Smart Case is its price: $80 is no small chunk of change, especially for a passive accessory. On the other hand, leather is a premium material, and Apple uses really nice stuff here without skimping on other facets of the design. In absolute terms, it’s expensive, but viewed in proportion to the cost of the entry-level iPad Air 2, it’s like spending about $30 on an iPhone 6 case, which most people would argue is a fair price.
Because the case is made of leather, it won’t be the favorite for people who are against the use of animal products. If this matter is important to you, we recommend going with our runner-up pick.
We’ve been using the Smart Case as our daily protector since the iPad Air 2 went on sale last fall, and it’s still in great shape. The leather is showing small signs of wear, but the case has no serious tears or discolorations that take away from its good looks. We’ve yet to find another case that offers the same degree of protection while maintaining the slim design and low weight.
Apple has a history of using confusing naming conventions for its mobile accessories. For example, its leather iPhone 5s Case works with the iPhone 5 as well, and for a long time, the iPhone 4 Bumper—which also fits the 4S—was called “Bumpers,” even though it sold in packs of one.
We bring this up because if you look at the accessory rack at the Apple Store, the iPad Air 2 Smart Case (its official name on Apple’s website) is in packaging that says “iPad Air Smart Case.” The only reference to the iPad Air 2 is next to the model number, above the UPC, where “iPad Air (2nd generation)” appears in small type. If you’re unsure, ask an Apple Specialist for a hand.
If you’re looking to spend less on a case and are willing to give up some protection and overall quality of design, CaseCrown’s Omni is the way to go. It typically sells for less than half the price of Apple’s case but still has most of the same features.
Instead of leather, this model is composed of a plastic shell and a faux-carbon-fiber screen cover. It doesn’t feel as nice as the Smart Case, but you shouldn’t expect it to. While heavier than Apple’s case by 47 g, it is the thinnest of the cases we tested, measuring 10.4 mm with the iPad inside.
Most of the folios we tested had long openings along the bottom edge of the iPad, but the Omni offers more protection. Small plastic strips separate the hole for the Lightning port from those for the speakers. It may be a small detail, but it’s better than what almost all of the other cases offer. Unfortunately, the Omni doesn’t protect any of the iPad’s buttons.
Instead of three segments, the screen cover is divided into four panels. It still folds into a triangle, though, and it can hold the iPad at an angle of 10 degrees or 72 degrees off a flat surface. Although 72 degrees is pretty steep for watching videos, especially if you’re in a cramped airplane seat, it’s doable. As with the Smart Case, the Omni’s cover stays in place when closed; it doesn’t easily slide up and down, and the magnets hold it in place when you flip the tablet over.
On Amazon, reviewers are positive about this edition of the Omni. Of the 86 reviews currently posted there, 61 give it five stars, and the overall review score is 4½ stars.
One major drawback to CaseCrown’s case is the company’s lack of a warranty. The company explicitly states in its FAQ that it does not have a warranty program in place. If something goes wrong, you’re out of luck, but that’s pretty unlikely when it comes to cases.
The iPad mini 4 represents the first change in dimensions to Apple’s smaller tablet since the mini’s launch in 2012. Specifically, the 2015 model is 3 millimeters taller and 1 mm thinner than its predecessors, which means that cases for the iPad mini, iPad mini 2, and iPad mini 3 don’t fit the iPad mini 4.
If you’re looking to protect an iPad mini 4 from dings and scratches, we recommend Khomo’s Dual Case. Usually you can find it for $15 or less, and it offers an adequate amount of protection in 16 color combinations. Most of the iPad mini 4 cases we’ve found so far are cheap, but this one is the best of them, with a cover that stays in place even when you flip the case upside down, plus tightly tailored openings for the ports and buttons as well as a sound-boost feature that adds a few decibels to the volume output.
While the Dual Case is nothing fancy, it is better than any of the alternatives, especially for the price. The one-piece case combines a soft-touch plastic shell with a polyurethane cover that looks a lot like a Smart Cover. We found the fit to be perfect. Many of the cases we tested had screen covers that were too wide, running over the right edge a millimeter or two, but this one lines up perfectly.
The Dual Case doesn’t cover the iPad’s buttons, which is a drawback, but it does provide good coverage elsewhere. For example, instead of one long opening along the bottom edge of the iPad, the case has a single hole for the tablet’s Lightning-connector port—and that opening is large enough to accept third-party plugs. An early version of this case redirected the audio forward (instead of providing holes for the iPad’s speakers), amplifying it a few decibels in the process. The currently shipping version has lost that feature, but it’s a small difference overall. As for the case’s other openings, all of them are just large enough to provide access to the buttons, ports, and camera without leaving too much of the surrounding body exposed.
We were particularly impressed with the Dual Case’s screen cover, especially compared with the competition. It’s the only third-party case with a strong enough magnet to keep the cover in place even when you flip the iPad upside down or otherwise jostle it. The magnets are also strong enough to hold the screen cover up as a triangular stand suitable for both viewing and typing.
We tested 18 cases for the iPad Pro using the same criteria we used for other iPad case models, ultimately finding two designs we liked. Khomo’s Dual (available for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro) is the way to go if you want a simple, protective case. Consisting of a hard-plastic back and a flexible, polyurethane screen cover, it fits well, offers all-over protection, remains easy to remove if you need that, and has a sturdy cover that stays in place but also holds its shape when you flip it around as a stand. The Dual doesn’t cover the iPad Pro’s buttons, but the cases we tested that did weren’t as good in other respects.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $26.
If you prefer a case that can hold the Apple Pencil along with your iPad Pro, the best option is iVapo’s Folio Case. It’s a shockingly good case from a company we’ve otherwise never heard of—it’s actually a bit better than our other picks in some ways. In addition to all-over protection and a secure lid that turns into a stand, it offers full button coverage; the openings for the tablet’s ports are also tight enough to provide adequate coverage but large enough to work with accessories. The rubber Pencil holder along the right edge is snug enough that we had no worries about the Pencil falling out, but popping the tool in and out as needed is still easy. Compared with other iPad Pro cases we tested that can hold the Pencil, iVapo’s is lighter, significantly smaller in every dimension, and less expensive, while still offering the protection and features we look for. Our only complaint is that the button covers on the 9.7-inch version (but not the 12.9-inch version) were a bit stiffer than we’d prefer.
For the first-generation iPad Air, we recommend CaseCrown’s Omni for protection. It survives small drops, fits with precision, and has a fully functioning front cover that works effectively as a stand. The Omni’s design preserves the sophistication and ergonomics of Apple’s tablet.
As with many cases, the Omni’s main shell is made primarily of polycarbonate plastic. Unlike many cases, the Omni feels like it’s made of quality materials, and the rear shell precisely fits the back of the iPad so it doesn’t shift around. And the openings for the tablet’s speakers and side buttons are small, with plastic bits separating the Lightning-connector port and the speakers.
A vital feature is the case’s fully functional front cover—it’s one of the best we’ve used outside of the Apple Smart Cover. Poor case design often shows up in the spine that connects the cover to the backing, but the Omni’s spine is sleek. The spine sits tightly so the cover doesn’t slide around and inadvertently unlock the screen.
For the first three iPad mini generations, our favorite case is Apple’s Smart Case. It precisely fits each iPad mini, and its aesthetics preserve the sophistication and ergonomics of Apple’s small tablet better than anything else.
The Smart Case’s exterior protects the iPad mini’s vital components from drops and scrapes, and its front cover elegantly and reliably triggers the sleep/wake function. Compared with this case, everything else we’ve seen feels cheap—so much so that most cases severely detract from the experience of using the small and light iPad mini. If you want to enjoy using your iPad mini on a daily basis while protecting it from everyday impacts, and if you like to prop it up for typing and movie watching, this case is well worth its price.
We’ll continue to monitor and test noteworthy new cases as they become available. Additionally, while we find the folio style to be the best design for most people, we know that plenty of folks prefer different types of cases. We’d love to hear from you in the comments about how you use your iPad and what you want in a case.
iPad Air 2
The Optigon from roocase was originally a budget pick, but its price has risen, and that takes away from its appeal. This case is one of the thickest we tested, measuring 12.3 mm with the iPad installed, and tied for the heaviest at 236 g. And it doesn’t offer as much protection as our other picks: The plastic shell that holds the iPad lacks button coverage and has a wide, open bottom rather than more precisely tailored holes. The screen cover holds its stand positions, doesn’t slide up and down, and can take being flipped over, too. With a polycarbonate case and a polyurethane cover, it’s nicer than the cheapo OEM cases that flood the market, so if you like the design, it isn’t a bad pick, but it isn’t our favorite.
ZeroChroma’s FolioSlide teeters on the edge of greatness, with a number of well-implemented features that you just don’t see on other cases. Unfortunately, a handful of questionable decisions detract from the overall appeal. Though it’s made to fit both iPad Air generations—the only such case we’ve tested so far—the TPU case doesn’t feel loose around the Air 2’s thinner body. But because the two Air models have different microphone and button layouts, the case’s openings aren’t tailored to either one. When you use the case with the iPad Air 2, for example, you have extraneous microphone holes and extra space beneath the volume buttons where the original Air’s side switch would be. Otherwise, the holes are well-tailored, and the case protects the Sleep/Wake button, which we appreciate.
The FolioSlide is the only convertible folio we tested. By that, we mean that it can change from a full-body case to a back-only case at will. The fabric front cover attaches to the back shell using a groove along the left edge, and that front easily slides on and off. This is a nice feature that broadens the appeal of the case—if you don’t like folios, the case can still work for you. When you’re using it as a folio, the front cover wakes and sleeps the iPad Air when you open and close the cover, respectively. On the other hand, the cover slides up and down more than we’d prefer, so it can accidentally turn the screen on when, say, the iPad is sliding around in your bag.
While the convertible functionality is cool, the company’s flagship feature is the fold-flat stand built into the rear shell. Dubbed the “360° Unlimited Angle Flux-Stand,” the pop-out kickstand supports positions at almost any angle, and the circular area where the kickstand attaches to the case rotates 360 degrees (with convenient detents every 90 degrees). This design lets you prop your iPad up at a huge range of angles in any orientation—most cases limit you to one or two propped angles. (The stand mechanism does add 2.7 mm to the thickness of the case in the area around the stand.) If ZeroChroma tightens up some of the issues mentioned above, this case could be in the running for a top spot.
Griffin’s TurnFolio is pretty huge compared with the rest of the field. More than twice as thick and twice as heavy as the Smart Case, it’s the thickest and heaviest case we’ve yet tested. Inside the outer folio, your iPad sits in a rubber back shell that rotates relative to the folio, letting you prop your iPad up in landscape or portrait orientation. This flexibility, along with the shell’s button protection, are appreciated, but the overall bulk keeps this case out of contention.
Logitech recently released its BLOK Shell and BLOK Case, both under the company’s new Logi brand. As their names imply, rather than following the curves of the iPad, both cases are blocky, with flat backs, straight edges, and 90-degree corners. The company says this design helps absorb shock, particularly at each corner, where the case’s extra material compresses if the tablet lands on it. The BLOK Shell is just a case with no screen cover (which means we can’t recommend it). The BLOK Case adds a screen cover that doubles as a stand; a hinge in the middle offers a wide range of angles and stays where you put it.
This blocky design is obviously larger than something that’s closely tailored to the shape of the iPad, but we found the case’s weight to be the most problematic aspect. The BLOK Case weighs 397 grams—only 40 grams less than the iPad Air 2 itself—meaning it almost doubles the overall weight of the iPad, in contrast to just 144 grams for Apple’s Smart Case. We appreciate Logitech’s attempt to do something different with the BLOK designs, but the overall size of the BLOK Case makes it difficult to recommend.
An update to a case style that has been around for a few generations, Moshi’s Versa Cover for the Air 2 is clever. Its screen cover doesn’t transform into the traditional triangular stand, but instead uses origami-like creases to fold into viewing and typing positions. The faux-leather cover feels really nice, and the case is the second thinnest we’ve yet tested—thinner than even the Apple Smart Cover and the CaseCrown Omni. But it lacks volume-button protection, it leaves the iPad’s bottom edge more exposed than better cases do, and the price is relatively high. It’s not our favorite case for those reasons, even though we appreciate the design.
Devicewear’s Ridge is extremely popular on Amazon; the various editions on its listing garner a 4.6-star (out of five) rating across 3,457 reviews. We found it to be fine—not great, not terrible, just fine. A series of ridges along the inside of the cover allow for five viewing angles, but with a faux-leather exterior and plastic inner shell measuring a total of 14 mm, it sits closer to the thicker end of the spectrum. It also lacks button coverage, and instead of separate speaker and Lightning-port holes, it uses one long opening, which is less protective. If you like the look of leather but don’t want to pay Apple’s price, it may be worth considering, as long as you’re willing to give up a degree of protection and compactness.
The Slimline, from Poetic Cases, is extremely similar to a number of other cases we tested, with a plastic rear shell and a faux-leather screen cover that folds like Apple’s Smart Cover to form a stand. Despite being heavier and thicker than CaseCrown’s Omni, the Slimline doesn’t add any benefits like button protection. It’s a perfectly reasonable bargain choice if you like the bright color options and other patterns, but it’s otherwise forgettable.
Also from Poetic, the DuraBook is slightly more interesting. Its design is very similar to that of the Slimline, but the plastic rear shell is attached to a wraparound cover using a rotating swivel point, which allows you to prop up the shell/tablet in horizontal or portrait orientation. It offers no button coverage, and the cover slides up and down quite a bit, but it’s kind of neat otherwise.
Australian company STM makes great bags and pretty good cases. The company’s Dux is bulky but protective, with full button coverage and a screen cover that magnetically snaps in place to stay shut. A clear back panel lets you display (printed!) photos, or even a business card. If you’re looking for a higher level of protection from a folio, this one is worth a second look—it’s bulky, but it’ll survive tumbles better than our top picks.
STM’s Studio is closer to a traditional folio, sans button coverage but with the same kind of magnetic mechanism holding the screen cover in place. Unlike with the Dux, the extra weight and thickness aren’t really justified with the Studio, even though the case is otherwise well constructed.
Logitech’s AnyAngle is the tallest and widest case we tested, at 25 centimeters tall by 18.5 centimeters wide. It’s also one of the thickest (13.5 millimeters thick at its thickest point) and the second heaviest (346 grams). This size difference is readily apparent during use, especially when compared with Apple’s Smart Case—the AnyAngle weighs almost two and a half times as much. It’s one of the few cases to offer full body protection, though, including button coverage. The most interesting part of the AnyAngle is its screen cover: Instead of folding in on itself to form a stand, the cover is divided into two segments, with a crease about one-third of the way in from the left edge. When bent along that crease, the cover acts as a stand with a range of positions. This design allows for a wider range of viewing and typing angles than most cases offer. While the feature is well implemented, the AnyAngle’s combination of price and size keep it from being a top pick. We’d love to see Logitech bring the concept to a sleeker case.
Incipio’s Faraday isn’t as tall or wide as the AnyAngle, but it’s actually a bit thicker, and at 386 grams, it’s the heaviest case we tested—that’s about as much as a can of soda added to the weight of your iPad! It uses a standard plastic rear shell to hold the iPad, but one without button protection or even separate openings along the bottom edge for the speakers and the Lightning-connector port. Instead of a simple screen cover, a faux-leather flap extends out from the back of the case, wraps around the left edge of the iPad to form a cover, and then meets itself again at the starting point; embedded magnets hold the flap in place. Forming a stand with this flap is not as intuitive as with most of the cases we tested, and the sheer mass of the Faraday makes it difficult to recommend.
X-Doria’s SmartStyle seems like a good idea on paper, but the execution is not quite as strong as the concept. We really like the design of this form-fitting rubber case, especially its closely tailored openings and button protection. And the iPad’s edge can rest in four different ridges inside the screen cover, providing viewing angles of 46, 53, 61, and 67 degrees. Unfortunately, the rubber over the buttons adds quite a bit of resistance, requiring firmer presses than we’d prefer. We’re also not huge fans of the elastic band that serves to keep the cover shut—we prefer magnets—and at 13 mm, this is a thick case. The SmartStyle is worth considering if those extra viewing angles are important, but it has enough drawbacks to keep it from earning a top designation.
STM’s Skinny Pro is much more average than the competition from Logitech, Incipio, and X-Doria. It weighs only 203 grams, making it one of the lighter cases, and it’s 12.2 mm thick. Instead of using magnets to hold the screen cover shut or form a stand, STM chose to go with a tongue-like tab that fits into a loop on the back of the case. This design helps the cover stay firmly in place, but it also adds a level of complexity and, frankly, annoyance. We’d much rather have a case with properly implemented magnets. Combined with a nothing-special plastic shell, this one is a pass.
i-Blason’s i-Folio Slim is similar to the roocase Optigon in a lot of ways. It’s 0.1 mm thicker and weighs just 18 g less. It leaves more of the iPad Air’s chamfered edges exposed at the top and bottom, though, and the materials don’t feel quite as nice. For the same money, you’re better off going with roocase’s protector.
Both Khomo’s Dual Case and MoKo’s Ultra Slim Lightweight Smart-shell lack the ability to hold their stand positions without the weight of the iPad on top of them. In other words, the iPad’s weight, rather than the case’s magnets, keeps the shape. This design makes setting the case up for viewing or typing more difficult, and it means that the stand is more likely to slip.
Among the cases we tested, the cover of Fintie’s SmartShell Case moved the most when it was supposed to be closed. It readily slides up and down at the slightest provocation, even though the magnets hold it flat when you flip the tablet upside down. Additionally, the case stops short of protecting the iPad’s chamfered edges along the tablet’s shorter sides. The low price doesn’t make up for these faults.
Incipio’s Tuxen is the thickest, the heaviest, and the second-most-expensive case we’ve tested thus far. It’s also the only one to forgo a triangular stand in favor of a raised segment of the plastic back that holds the edge of the screen cover in place. It’s simply not as elegant of a setup. We normally like Incipio products, but this design is lacking next to the others we tested, especially for the price.
iPad mini 4
For some reason, Apple decided to discontinue its iPad mini Smart Case, a longtime favorite of ours, for the iPad mini 4. If you want the same amount of protection from Apple, you must buy both the iPad mini 4 Smart Cover (to cover the mini’s screen) and the iPad mini 4 Silicone Case (to cover the tablet’s body). The Smart Cover comes in 16 colors, the Silicone Case in 18. Together, the two products make up the most premium-feeling case we’ve found, with perfect button coverage and cutouts (although we do miss the leather of the Smart Case—the Smart Cover is made of polyurethane). However, the price makes this combination crazy: They’ll cost you a total of $100, or one-fourth the price of the base iPad mini 4. The pair is simply too expensive.
MoKo’s Smart-shell is very, very similar to the Khomo Dual Case. The biggest differences are in the speaker coverage (the MoKo version uses a series of holes over the speaker grilles to let audio through) and the screen cover, which is just a bit too long.
Urban Armor Gear’s Folio Case is a lot more expensive than most of the models we tested, but it’s more protective, too. Although it doesn’t provide button protection, the company claims it meets military drop-test standards. The design isn’t for everyone, but it isn’t a bad pick if you need more protection.
ESR’s Yippee Color and Yippee Color Plus both offer button protection, an advantage few other iPad mini 4 cases have. But the cover on each version doesn’t stay in place well enough, and the Yippee Color Plus has two unnecessary holes on the back.
roocase’s Orb Folio 360 is simply far too thick for most people.
We declined to test a number of other cases because they lacked button coverage and had a single long opening on the bottom edge, exposing that entire edge of the tablet to damage, instead of more tightly tailored holes. This group includes Fintie’s Smart Book Cover Case and 360 Degree Rotating Stand Case, Fintie’s SmartShell, Goslete’s Smart Case, Hotcool’s Case, JETech’s Slim-Fit Folio and Gold Serial Slim-Fit Folio, Roartz’s Slim Fit Folio, roocase’s Origami 3D, and Supcase’s Premium Slim Hard Shell.
Just as with the iPad mini 4, Apple doesn’t sell a fully protective Smart Case for either iPad Pro. Instead, the company offers its Silicone Case (9.7-inch and 12.9-inch) to cover the back of the iPad Pro, along with its Smart Cover (9.7-inch and 12.9-inch) for the screen. When used together, these accessories make the nicest-looking and nicest-feeling cases we’ve tested, but the total cost is mind-boggling at between $120 and $140—about 10 times as much as the basic case we recommend, and about five times as much as our Pencil-holding picks. The limited color options (just charcoal gray or white) for the larger iPad Pro are a smaller drawback but still a bummer. We sincerely hope Apple goes back to its all-in-one, still-expensive-but-not-crazy-expensive Smart Case at some point.
We originally recommended Peyou’s Ultra Slim-Fit and Fintie’s SmartShell, but stronger competition (along with stock issues) knocked those models from the top spots. If our top picks are out of stock or jump dramatically in price, these designs are worth looking at.
We previously recommended MoKo’s Ultra Slim (for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro and 12.9-inch iPad Pro). However, though the case is very similar to the Khomo Dual we currently recommend, we saw too many reports of cases chipping and breaking, and experienced chipping ourselves in long-term testing. The issue seems to be more common with the 12.9-inch version, but we’ve seen complaints about the 9.7-inch model, as well.
We tested two folio-style alternatives to iVapo’s Pencil-holding cases: Speck’s StyleFolio Pencil and STM’s Atlas. They’re both much larger than our pick (especially the Speck case) and more expensive, while offering no real advantages other than keeping the Pencil under their respective lids rather than on the side of the case.
JETech’s Slim-Fit, roocase’s Origami, Invellop’s Slim Fit, Roartz’s Slim Fit, and IVSO’s Ultra-Thin are all very similar in design. We ruled them out because they left more of the iPad’s top and bottom metal edges exposed than other cases. It’s a small thing, to be sure, but a differentiating factor nonetheless.
We like a lot about ESR’s Yippee Plus, including its button protection. Two long openings on the back “for better ventilation” seem unnecessary, though, and the screen cover doesn’t stay tightly in place when you flip the iPad Pro over.
Logitech’s Logi Create Protective Case with Any-Angle Stand is one of the heaviest cases we tested, weighing more than 1.2 pounds, and it’s the thickest at 15 mm. That might be acceptable if it offered superior protection, but the case leaves half of both the top and bottom edges of the iPad exposed.
Incipio’s Faraday case is even heavier than the Logi Create, so we had to rule it out. The company’s Clarion is a better option, although we don’t love its reliance on a snap rather than magnets to hold the screen cover shut.