I admit it. I am a case man. I would as soon fondle a naked iPhone as I would walk across a glacier in bare feet. It’s just so comforting to know that if I drop my iThing it isn’t going to be a disaster.
The iPad mini presents new challenges. Because it is so light and thin, case solutions that suit a MacBook or even an iPad are overkill. Unfortunately I could find no slender cases, although new designs are now coming through thick and fast. Most designs I’ve seen are capable of turning the iPad mini into a bit of a maxi.
Before my mini arrived I bought a Targus VuScape folding case from John Lewis, who always have a good stock. I had loved the bigger brother on my iPad and felt it would be ideal for the mini. Not so. Encased in the VuScape, the mini became heavy and unwieldy. As it happens, though, this particular case was too tight, particularly the clasp which needed excessive force to clip over the side of the tablet. So I had a cast-iron excuse to get my money back.
As an interim measure I swallowed my earlier objections and bought an Apple Smart Cover. I had heard reports about this revised design being inferior to the original, but I plonked down my £35 and hoped for the best. Uncharacteristically, I forwent black and opted for bright, signal red. This you will not miss. I like red, but in small doses, and the mini cover is certainly a small dose. It’s really neat.
It has further benefits. Red is a hey-there-you’ve-left-me-come-back-and-pick-me-up colour. Leave a red-covered mini on the table at Starbucks and it will scream at you. Good old traditional black or slate gray is definitely a just-look-how-well-I’m-hiding sort of hue. So there is method in redness.
As it happens, the new smaller Smart Cover works well. At first I thought the two-fold design might make it more difficult to find the optimum typing position or to get the stand to hold up the mini in landscape mode. I needn’t have worried. If anything, the two-fold design seems to make it easier to fold into place, whether for typing or viewing. Unlike the bigger iPad version, the new mini cover has a plastic attachment bar, said to help prevent scratching, but it works just as well. If anything, it is a tad more prone to become detached than the metal device on the bigger cover. However, this is a merely a subjective view since I have no direct comparison at the moment. I could be wrong.
That was the front sorted out. I enquired after plastic cases for the back of the mini but they do not exist in the Apple Store. Instead, a friendly blueshirt directed me to Amazon. There I found a number of very cheap, clear plastic backing cases specifically designed to work with the Smart Cover. Joy. I could have had one for £4 and free delivery. Instead I opted for the luxury model at £5.95 and it arrived the next day. See the Poetic ThinShell Back Smart Cover Partner Case for iPad Mini
For this modest outlay the case is great. It clips to the mini securely and has holes for frequently used buttons and ports. It works seamlessly with the Smart Cover. The plastic is hard and glossy when I would have it preferred matte and soft-touch, but let’s not get too quibbly for the sake of six quid. In common with all similar cases I’ve encountered, there is no cut-out for the SIM slot. For someone like me, who changes SIMs like socks as he wanders the European continent, this is a pain.
All in all, though, the combination of this cheapo case and Apple’s ever-so-expensive Smart Cover is a very acceptable solution which I would wholeheartedly recommend.
by Mike Evans, 14 December 2012
UPDATE: The Poetic case covered in this article started to work loose after a week’s use. The top left-hand corner of the case came adrift and would not click onto the device. I returned it and purchased an alternative model, this time made from gel. It fits well and feels better.
Super-Touch Smart Gel Case