Apple iPad Smart Case (dark gray)
Typical Price: $54.99
CNET Editors' Rating: 3.5 / 5
The good: The iPad Smart Case offers comfortable, solid wraparound protection for your third-gen iPad or iPad 2.
The bad: The Smart Case is wobbly when folded into a vertical stand, and it doesn't offer all that much that other cases don't already provide.
The bottom line: Apple's iPad Smart Case is a reliable and solid folio case that offers much more protection than the Smart Cover, but it's nowhere near as magical.
Design, Features & Performance (out of 10)
When the clever Smart Cover debuted alongside the iPad 2, a problem emerged: as functional, easy, and downright cool as the Smart Cover is, it doesn't protect the tablet's back. Plenty of back covers with cut-outs for Smart Cover compatibility started to emerge to address the problem, but finding the right fit has always been hard...and, when you add together the cost of the Smart Cover and a back case, expensive.
Apple's newly released iPad Smart Case looks, at first, like the perfect answer. The $49 full-folio case has a Smart Cover-like front, and also has a back. Together, it's...well, it's a folio case. That's the problem: really, it's nothing new in the iPad case landscape. However, the Smart Case is Apple's own first full iPad case since the original microfiber iPad case in 2010.
In many ways, the Smart Case is really a throwback to that original case: the segmented, folding cover was an idea that started with that microfiber case, not the Smart Cover. The Smart Case is made entirely from polyurethane with suedelike microfiber on all inside surfaces, and a set of magnets on the edge of the cover flap to automatically wake the iPad 2 or third-gen iPad from sleep.The case comes in six colors, most of them matching the candy-pastel look of the polyurethane Smart Covers: blue, green, pink, red, light gray, and dark gray. I tried the dark gray, which actually looks medium-gray to my eyes. A white Apple logo is printed on the back.
So, is this case a regression in form? It depends on your perspective. If you value good, solid protection, this is progress. The all-microfiber case feels cut from a single material, soft to the touch and yet just a little bit sturdy. All areas of the iPad are covered up, even the volume buttons, which have molded areas you can press through the case. I don't know if this case would be shockproof, but like the original iPad case, it should survive a basic light drop.
Pop your iPad into the bottom of the Smart Case, and flexible rubberized edges form a secure fit while exposing most of the iPad's front glass. The case adds extra bezel around the edges, makes the iPad seem wider and a bit larger than before. Hand-held typing in portrait mode feels a tiny bit awkward, but for reading and for viewing media, especially one-handed (I ride a subway to work), it offers a comfy grip. Maybe it's the way the case handles weight distribution, but the iPad feels lighter to hold when in the Smart Case than when using a Smart Cover and a third-party back shell. It feels comfortable with the cover folded back, too.
The cover's a bit challenging to open, which some may not like. Just like in the original iPad case, the top cover nestles into the base when folded down, protecting the screen better but making the cover harder to lift casually. I found myself having to use a fingernail.
Compared with the original Smart Cover, the Smart Case doesn't work so well in other orientations. When folding the top lid back for keyboard mode, the way the flap hinge rests causes the iPad to ride lower than with a Smart Cover, and the extra bezel makes reaching the keys feel a little different. It works, but it takes getting used to. You can also stand the iPad up in landscape picture-frame mode, but I wouldn't recommend it. My third-gen iPad didn't feel solidly balanced that way -- not nearly as sturdy as a iPad with a Smart Cover in the same position.
The Smart Case is best viewed as a comfortable, all-around basic folio case. At $50, it's not outrageously priced, especially when you consider that a Smart Cover plus a third-party back cover would cost at least as much, and probably more.
I consider the Apple Smart Case a throwback case rather than something progressive. But if you liked Apple's original iPad case, or just want a little more protection, this is a throwback you'll be happy to have.
Average User Rating: 3.5 / 5
User Rating Breakdown
5 Star: 2
4 Star: 0
3 Star: 0
2 Star: 0
1 Star: 0
Spectacular Case for the iPad 2!
Rating: 5 / 5
on June 19, 2012
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: This case maintains the slim design of the iPad as Apple advertises, while providing excellent protection. I love the sleep/wake feature and the fact that it folds into a stand. I love how this case covers the corners.
Cons: My only complaint is that this case an feel as if it fits a bit loose at times it's the iPad 2.
Summary: This is a great case from Apple and I think the price point of $49 is very reasonable for what it provides.
A high quality, durable case that protects the iPad.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
on June 16, 2012
0 out of 0 users found this review helpful
Pros: The material is a high quality polyurethane with a rubber like texture. It is very comfortable to the touch. The iPad actually sits inside the cover with an added border around the edge, adding shock absorption.
Cons: The added dimensions around the border make it hard or impossible to fit into standard iPad carrying cases (for example, I have the incase origami sleeve and I can not fit my iPad into it with the Smart Case).
Summary: So far, so good.
I bought the dark grey model, which should be good at not showing stains and smudges as visibly as the lighter colors.
The exterior feels soft to the touch- I want to keep touching it! It is of a very high quality rubber like material. The entire inside of the case is of soft microfiber.
The small details, like the white borders around the volume control and the pinhole cutouts for the speaker, are beautiful.
There are no magnets which attach to the side of the iPad, which is great, for I had to return a previous iPad and Smart Cover after the metal on metal magnet contact caused permanent damage to the iPad's aluminum exterior (after only 2 months of use).
The entire iPad is securely covered except for the microphone hole, headphone jack, dock connector port, and speaker grill.
I find the landscape stand mode to be more durable than the Smart Cover- it is more resilient when tapped hard. The edge around the border of the iPad creates a lip which adds more protection if the iPad were to fall face down.
I am kind of reticent that this case will last very long and look this good, but time will tell. For now, I give it 4.5 stars.