Apple iPad mini case roundup

Apple iPad mini case roundup

You’re the proud owner of an Apple iPad mini and the first thought that probably crosses your mind is how to protect it. Nothing wrong with that, but the choice of covers and cases has become bewildering in a very short space of time. So in order to help you make the right choice we’ve rounded up seven models.

No roundup of iPad mini covers and cases would be complete without including Apple’s own Smart Cover. The concept isn’t new; we’ve seen the Smart Cover adorn many a 9.7in iPad and its basic design remains largely the same for the mini.

Made from polyurethane, the iPad mini Smart Cover is available in five main colours – blue, green, dark grey, light grey and pink – the same as the iPad’s Smart Cover in fact, although that also comes in a choice of five leather designs. There’s a sixth special edition red-coloured one too.

The inside is adorned with a soft microfibre faux-suede layer, the colour of which complements the outside. This helps keep the mini’s screen clean, but in our experience the thin and flexible folds separating the three plates create two channels into which dust readily collects. This frequently left two lines of dust on the iPad mini’s screen.

Like the larger iPad Smart Cover, this one attaches to the iPad mini via a hinged magnetic spine that lines up the polarities of its magnets with those inside the tablet. The result is a cover that positions itself perfectly with the mini’s screen pretty much every time it’s attached. However, the design is different. The larger iPad cover uses a metallic hinge arrangement in such a way that metal-to-metal contact points are created. Over time, we’ve noticed that these can mark the larger iPad’s chassis. This isn’t the case for the mini Smart Cover because the spine is encased in the same polyurethane material as the rest of the cover and lined with the same suede-like material as the cover’s interior. This should protect the iPad mini’s left side from repeated detachment and reattachment of the cover.

A word of warning. Avoid passing the tablet around while holding it only by the cover. Even though the magnets are strong it is possible to overcome the attraction by dangling the mini under its own weight.

Using more magnets hidden in the top and bottom regions of the outermost rigid plate, the mini Smart Cover triggers the iPad mini’s sleep and wake functions as it’s closed and opened – in much the same way as its larger sibling. This explains the ‘Smart’ moniker, and saves you having to press the on/off/sleep/wake button on the device before putting it down or slipping it into a bag.

Furthermore, those familiar with Apple’s Smart Cover will know that it can be easily folded into two useful stands (the thin and pliable membranes easily fold unlike the stiffer creases in some of the other cases). The first stand raises the device from a horizontal position to a more comfortable one that aids reading and typing, while the second enables you to prop up the iPad mini in landscape, ideal for hands-free viewing on a desk or bedside table. In each arrangement, integrated magnets lock the cover into position making both stands stable enough for touch operation (although in the vertical ‘watching’ position, the iPad mini does bounce back and forth a little when touched).

Of course the Smart Cover is simply that – a cover. While it keeps the mini feeling thin in the hand, it provides no protection for the back, unlike the rest of the models in this roundup. If that bothers you then don’t buy one. If it doesn’t and you’re willing to part with the rather steep £35 retail asking price, then the iPad mini Smart Cover is a neat fit.

Verdict

The Smart Cover is actually a clever design clearly conceptualised at the same time as the iPad since its ‘smart’ functionality and physical attachment rely on the magnets built into the tablet itself. It’s not cheap for what looks like a simple flat sheet of panelled polyurethane, but when you take into account its added stand and operational functionality its value for money increases – but we still think it’s too expensive and the score reflects this. The other downer is of course the lack of rear protection for your iPad mini.

Score: 7/10

Manufacturer: Apple

Price: £35

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