When it came to buying the iPad Mini I was really stuck for a case. I wanted to protect my iPad Mini, as it’s the device I will use every day for the next few years, and take with me potentially anywhere I go. The kitchen, garden, church, work or even while presenting, I really needed to keep this iPad safe. I also wanted to try and keep the iPad bulk-free, as the compactness and light weight is one reason I chose the Mini over the Air. I settled on a case I hope is going to do the Job, so here is my iPad Mini Smart Case Review.
To start off the price this case is relatively high, at £55 I almost felt like it was far too much to pay for a case. My original iPad is still using the same case made by Tuff Luv, and after 4 years of usage and travel it is still in one piece. Is the Smart Case worth this much? Let’s find out.
The Smart Case is different from its younger brother, the Smart Cover. The Smart Cover simply only covers the front, meaning that the back is completely exposed, while the Smart Case however will cover the back and the screen. Considering the back is Aluminium which can scratch very easily I would argue it is vitally important to cover the back as well, especially if you want to keep the great resale value iPads can offer.
There is very little branding on the case, a recessed Apple logo on the back and then a product name on the inside, which will sit behind the iPad. There are no openings on the case, other than the headphone port, lightning port, camera, microphone, speaker grill and the rotation/mute lock switch. If you have a headphone cable that has a wide connector you may find it will not fit in the opening, as its quite a narrow gap. The power and volume buttons are covered, but can still be interacted with.
The exterior of the case is all leather, which is comfortable to hold, and comes is a variety of colours (black, brown, beige, yellow, blue and product red). I chose to go with the Black version, as I knew it would match the space grey/black iPad Mini well. Unfortunately there is no white version to match the white Mini, although it’s a shame I think it’s a good thing. The while would really show marks and dirt very easily. The interior of the case is all Microfiber, one of those materials you do want the iPad screen on, far better than any form of plastic or leather. The case is ridged, and features magnets that stop the flap from opening, but more on that later.
The iPad does not attach, nor do you slide it in or screw it in. You simply just ‘put’ it in. It sounds scary, risky, and terrifying to thing nothing is holding a rather expensive piece of kit, but its secure. The case is quite tight, and when placing the iPad in you just need to press down on the corners slightly to secure it. The iPad Mini fits the Smart Case like a glove that was made to measure a precise hand.
Also just to be clear, the iPad Mini with Retina Display and the original iPad Mini fit the Smart Case just fine, despite the Retina Mini being 1mm thicker than its predecessor.
Putting the “Smart” in “Smart Case”
The Smart Case gets its “Smart” from some of the unique functionality the case has. The flap has magnets that attach to magnets inside the Mini’s bezel that make sure when its closed, it stays closed. The magnets are relatively strong, and keep the iPad covered, but does not make opening the case too difficult. And don’t worry, the magnets will not cause any interference with the display or the interior workings of the Mini.
These magnets also bring additional functionality, when you open the case the screen turns on. When you close the cover the screen turns off. It’s a great feature you don’t appreciate until you have used it, but even if you don’t like it you can turn it off in the iPad settings. I have showed how to do this here.
Continuing on with the smart theme the flap for the case is made from three segments that can be folder back in a number of ways. It can be folded right back, against the back of the case, giving you a flat surface with a full view of the screen. Unfortunately this does not stay magnetically back, so you will have to hold it with your hand. They can also be folded triangularly in such a way that the iPad is elevated from the surface. One suitable for typing and the other suitable for media. What I have found though is that the media view does not work too well. It works if you want to sit back and enjoy, but as soon as you want to use the iPad in ‘media mode’ you chance pushing the iPad back, and toppling it over. It’s not very steady when it comes to interaction, although I have no complaints about how the typing mode feels.
There are so many simple things I could complain about with this case, such as the flap, when folded back, can cover the rear camera. When you put the case down with the cover folded back you risk the microfiber material pulling debris from the surface onto the screen. There cover also seems to leave very subtle streaks down the iPads screen, meaning it must be cleaned often. The headphone cut-out could do with being thicker and the rotation/mute switch is too recessed, and the only way to access it is to dig your nail into the gap.
Despite that small rant of problems with the case I am still very satisfied with it. I have screen protectors currently on the way to hopefully reduce debris and streaks on the screen. It’s not very often I use the camera anyway, and the rotation lock isn’t as bad as I previously made it out to be. Here’s the thing though, you could go out and try 10 different cases that are all cheaper than the Smart Case but I can guarantee you will not find one that is as feature filled as the Smart Case while still light weight, low bulk and protective. I would say this is certainly worth the money it costs, and think that you should not chance other cases and risk damage to your iPad.
As always if you have any questions please leave them below.