With every new generation of the iPad, the market for cases, covers, and various other accessories seems to grow exponentially. After all, if you’re spending several hundred pounds on your tablet, keeping it safe should be among your top priorities. Veho’s Pebble Folio, a two-in-one cover and supplemental battery for the iPad, aims to offer both protection and improved functionality via an in-case charging mechanism - the latter of which is especially useful if you use your device to watch videos, play games or perform other battery-hungry tasks. It originally retailed for £109.95, but the Veho Pebble Folio is now available on Amazon for just under £30.
By virtue of being both a cover and a battery, the Pebble Folio faces twice the challenges of the average case. It’s no small task figuring out how to fit both of those functions into a cover users will want to carry around with them, and the Pebble Folio shows Veho making a valiant effort, though one that falls slightly short.
With dimensions of 270 x 248 x 20mm, it fits the first, second, third, and fourth generations of the 9.7in iPad. The tablet easily slides into the case through a side opening. However, the looseness of the fit initially made me wonder whether my tablet was being properly protected. Though there's no screen protector to cover the display while it’s in use, the folio folds over to cover the iPad’s screen when it's dormant. That means you retain full touchscreen capability and, through a handful of strategically placed holes, you get access to all of the iPad’s ports and buttons, including the rear camera, should your device have one.
Much like Apple’s own Smart Cover, the Pebble Folio’s front cover is magnetised, so you can take advantage of the tablet’s sleep/wake function, allowing you to preserve your battery even further. Also like the Smart Cover, the Pebble Folio doubles as a stand, folding over backwards to offer two additional typing and viewing angles. While the stand is great in theory, its weak fold doesn’t inspire confidence, leaving me worried that it might topple over under the tablet’s weight.
The case comes in either tan or black and is made of synthetic leather. While the leatherette is comfortable to the touch, I didn’t find the tan shade of our review sample particularly attractive.
The thickness of both the front and back sides of the case protect the tablet fairly well, but at the expense of its portability. Frankly, I would be unlikely to dwarf the sleek design of my iPad with the Pebble Folio’s clunkiness. If you’re looking for additional storage, its front side has a zippered pocket that’s big enough to be useful. But the in-case battery’s charging function comes with so many cables and connectors - more on that later - that not having a pocket would have been a serious oversight.
In addition to the burdensome design, the Pebble Folio’s battery pack weighs it down significantly, though perhaps that comes with the territory. The 6,600mAh lithium-ion battery, which is cylindrical in shape and is encased in the Folio’s spine, brings its weight to 435g. When combined with my iPad’s weight of 650g, this means I was lugging around over than 1kg in total iPad-related weight.
The Pebble Folio’s battery is chargeable via a USB cable, while a different cable, which plugs into a port at the bottom of the cover’s spine, charges your iPad. It also comes with a handful of different tips and connectors, allowing you to use it to charge other mobile devices, too. Veho promises an additional 65 per cent of battery life to the first or second-gen iPads, and 35 per cent to the newer third and fourth generation units. I found the fully charged Pebble Folio battery gave my iPad an extra five to six hours of battery life - putting it well beyond its usual eight or so.
But while the Pebble Folio lives up to its promise in the power department, the charging mechanism requires too many tips and cables and adaptors to be worth it - a simpler, more streamlined process would earn it more points in my book. Also, the length of the provided cables - 21cm - annoyingly restricts where you can place the cover while charging it. That, coupled with its weight, makes me think that carrying a separate battery pack as and when I need one is a preferable alternative.
The Veho Pebble Folio has undeniable perks - solid protection and considerably more battery life for your iPad. But despite its positive qualities, its sheer bulk and weight make me fairly certain it’s not something I would like to use on a daily basis. While it could be useful for travel or for situations when I wouldn’t have access to conventional methods of charging, that kind of occasional use may not be worth it. At its astronomical suggested retail price of just under £110, I would expect a much sleeker offering - and perhaps one that’s made from real leather. But at £30, the Veho Pebble Folio is a lot more palatable.
If Veho manages to produce a slimmed-down version of the cover, it could have a serious contender on its hands. But until then, the Pebble Folio is really just another cover with potential crowding the market.