Our picks for the iPad mini
Our editors spend a lot of time testing and using iPad cases, but there are a few we keep coming back to once our testing is done. Here are some of our favorites for the iPad mini.
Apple’s iPad mini Smart Cover is pretty disappointing. But if you’ve already got one, you can make it considerably more usable and protective by adding SwitchEasy’s $20 CoverBuddy for iPad mini. Made specifically to partner with the official Smart Cover—and available in the same range of colors, as well as clear—the CoverBuddy is a thin-but-tough polycarbonate shell for the back and edges of your tablet.
In addition to protecting the body of your iPad, I've found that the case helps stabilize the Smart Cover: The CoverBuddy adds a tiny lip around the iPad mini's screen that keeps the Smart Cover from sliding around as much when closed.—Dan Frakes
Not a fan of Apple's Smart Cover? Try Moshi's $50 VersaCover Mini Origami Case for iPad mini instead. This case has a slim, hardshell back combined with a flexible front cover—the latter can be folded in different ways to prop your mini up at various viewing angles. Because the shell is transparent, you get the benefit of protecting your iPad while still showing off its design. Plus, the VersaCover Origami is so slim and light, you'll barely notice it.—Leah Yamshon
Speck CandyShell Grip
Maybe you just want something that makes it easier to hold on to your iPad mini—and gives the tablet a little protection if you can’t. Speck’s $45 CandyShell Grip for iPad mini combines a thin, rigid case with a series of rubbery pads on the back for a much-improved grip. The case doesn’t add much weight, but it still protects against minor drops, and a raised bezel around the front keeps the screen safe when you absentmindedly put your iPad on your desk face-down.—Dan Frakes
Powis iCase offers dozens of book-cover-style cases ($60 each) for the iPad mini. You can choose from plaid, checkerboard, fake animal skins, or vintage book covers. (I reviewed the Blue Plaid version.) You can optionally add a foil inscription on the inside cover, and there’s an $80 custom-design leather version that lets you roll your own. Each case includes a hideaway kickstand for propping the iPad mini up, in landscape orientation, as high as 45 degrees from horizontal.—Lex Friedman
My go-to case for my full-size iPad is Portenzo's $100 Alano, and the similarly priced Alano for iPad mini is just as wonderful. This book-style folio case is available in nine different patterns, each made from soft, high-quality leather. (I have the Tesoro, shown here, which sports an old map embossed in the leather.) Each case is made to order with the option to add features such as a built-in stand, a camera cutout, and a stylus compartment. Although it’s pricey, the Alano is gorgeous, well-designed, and durable.—Leah Yamshon
Dodocase is known for its handmade book-binding iPad cases, but I actually prefer the company’s $40 Hardcover Classic, available in black with a color lining, and $50 Harcover Solid, available in colors with a grey lining. (I previously reviewed the Nexus 7 version of the Hardcover.)
To save weight and to make the case thinner, the Hardcover foregoes an internal wood frame in favor of secure-but-removeable adhesive—your iPad mini sticks directly to the inside of the case’s back cover. The result is case that looks like a book but is lighter (under five ounces) and thinner than any of the other book-binding cases on the market. A hole in the cover lets you use the iPad’s back camera, and an elastic, Moleskin-notebook-like strap keeps the cover closed (and helps you use the front cover as a stand).—Dan Frakes
Cygnett Workmate for iPad mini
Most rugged cases are made to offer protection from worst-case-scenario situations: a drop from extreme heights, for example, or being submerged in water. For a case that's rugged without being over the top, Cygnett's $40 Workmate for iPad mini is the way to go. This bulky shell is easy to install on your mini and keeps the tablet’s ports, buttons, and display safe from accidents larger than your run-of-the-mill drop off of the couch.—Leah Yamshon
OtterBox iPad mini Defender Series Case
If over-the-top protection is what you’re looking for, few cases are as rugged as OtterBox’s $70 iPad mini Defender Series Case, which will protect your mini from pretty much everything but water.
The thick, polycarbonate shell sports a grippy texture to help prevent drops, and while the iPad’s cameras, microphone, and speakers remain unobscured, all of its buttons are covered and its ports and jacks are protected by rubber flaps. A clear screen overlay prevents scratches, but you also get a rock-solid travel cover that doubles as a multi-angle stand. If you’ve got young kids, you want this case.—Dan Frakes
X-Doria SmartStyle for iPad mini
X-Doria’s $40 SmartStyle for iPad mini is available in bright, trendy designs with fun patterns splashed on a canvas cover. On a full-size iPad, these patterns can be a bit gaudy, but the iPad mini is a perfect fit.
Looks aside, the SmartStyle is a traditional folio-style case with a thick cover that folds back behind the tablet during use; you can also use the cover to prop your mini up in different landscape orientations for typing or screen viewing. The case’s thick, plastic back provides a decent amount of protection, as well.—Leah Yamshon
WaterField Designs Slip Case and Smart Case
iPad purists prefer to use their tablet case-free, but even the most ardent advocate of iPad nakedness wants to keep their gear safe when traveling. WaterField Designs’ $27 iPad Slip Case and $57 iPad Smart Case (shown here) are sleeves that offer solid, stylish protection without adding a lot of bulk to your bag.
The three-ounce Slip Case features a waterproof exterior in one of six sleek colors; a soft lining; and a rigid panel to protect your iPad mini’s screen. For a bit more protection, the six-ounce, slightly thicker Smart Case gives you rigid panels on both sides, more padding, a slim external pocket for cables, and leather trim. Both cases can be ordered to fit a bare iPad mini, or slightly larger to fit an iPad mini wearing a Smart Cover.—Dan Frakes
STM Blazer D7 Sleeve
Though not specifically made for the iPad mini, STM’s $25 Blazer D7 Sleeve fits the tablet well, is light (just five ounces), and offers solid protection you can carry alone or inside another bag. The zippered, water-resistant case is lined with soft material over thick, high-density foam, and it’s large enough to accomodate an iPad mini clad in a Smart Cover or other thin case.
On the outside, you’ll find a handle, attachments for the included removeable shoulder strap, a slip pocket on the back for small (folded-8.5-by-11-inch) documents, and a zippered pocket on the front for accessories and a smartphone.—Dan Frakes
You say you love your iPad mini, but you’re still a sucker for paper notes? Dodocase’s $125 Folio for iPad mini is your new portable office. The Folio starts with Dodocase’s famous handcrafted, bookbinding-style case, complete with a bamboo interior frame for your iPad, a leather spine, and a fabric-covered hardcover exterior. But the inside includes a refillable Mohawk Superfine notepad, a leather pen/stylus pocket, two leather pockets for business and credit cards, and a large pouch for folded documents and other small papers. Pull it all together with complementary stitching, and you’ve got a versatile and attractive business accessory.—Dan Frakes
Be.ez LA Robe sleeves
If you just want the lightest sleeve possible for tossing your iPad mini inside another bag, check out Be.ez's LA Robe Allure iPad mini (pictured) and LA Robe Black Addict iPad mini (approximately $25 each). Each LA Robe sleeve is made of low-resilience polyurethane (LRPu) material—better known as lightweight memory foam—that provides truly impressive protection. But the best part of this material is that it adds little weight: The iPad mini version of the LA Robe weighs less than three ounces.—Dan Frakes
Booq Viper Hardcase 7
For even more protection, and a bit of room for extras, Booq’s $40 Viper Hardcase 7 has you—or at least your iPad mini—covered. Made of a semi-rigid, molded shell covered in 1680D, water-repellant nylon, the Viper can handle everyday abuse, while multiple neoprene and mesh sleeves on the inside hold your iPad mini, a few cables, a passport or similar-size booklet, and even a thin paperback book or some folded documents.—Dan Frakes
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