Waterfield’s iPad Wallet is a surprisingly minimal iPad case with a vertical messenger design and a second interior pocket for bringing along Apple’s Wireless Keyboard. Some design quirks can make the bag clunky to work with at times, but it’s an otherwise solid case for iPad road warriors.
It’s not often that you hear the term “wallet” used to name a case for a product that can be everything from a book reader to a refreshingly mobile slab of productivity and gaming. But WaterField Designs’ $79 iPad Wallet is—for better and for worse—about as close as you can get to a just-what-you-need bag for mobile iPad warriors.
The iPad Wallet is your typical vertical messenger case distilled to the absolute essentials for the iPad. Two felt-padded interior pockets can fit either the original iPad or the iPad 2 (even with an attached Smart Cover); with either iPad, the Wallet also accommodates Apple’s Wireless Keyboard. I’ve had mixed success carting Apple’s keyboard around in various bags, since most are not designed or padded properly to prevent key presses. This isn’t too big of a deal in terms of battery power, but if you use a password on your iPad, you can run into iPad lockouts. Turning off the keyboard while in transit usually does the trick, but I had a couple instances where other items in the same compartment hit the keyboard’s power button and switched it back on, locking me out of my iPad for a short time. After using this case on a few typical daily commutes and hopping between coffee and tea shops around Chicago, I didn’t have a single instance of iPad lockout. The iPad Wallet seems to be designed and padded well enough to avoid unwanted keyboard mumblings while in transit.
There aren’t many options for carrying additional items, but you, the modern iPad-slinger that you are, have no need for such trivialities, right? There is one thin, padded, interior pocket that spans the full height and width of the iPad Wallet. In it I fit my Mophie Juice Pack Air for iPhone, Apple’s 10-watt iPad USB charter, and a USB-to-dock-connector cable. You could squeeze more, but nothing thicker. On the back of the Wallet is a stretchy, mesh pocket for stashing documents and other quick-access items. As with many bags from WaterField Designs, you also get a choice in shoulder straps ranging in thickness and padding. I had the Suspension Strap Mini with a no-slip underside, which was plenty comfortable for this light package.
WaterField’s minimalist design choices took a little getting used to. There are absolutely no lines, pockets, or accents on the front, not even so much as a brand label—it’s just one big, nylon rectangle. I guess you could say that, in a way, this iPad bag mimics the sleek, virtually feature-less physical design of the iPad itself. However, the iPad Wallet’s slim, tight design at times made it a bit difficult to remove my iPad. The iPad pouch is on the deeper side of the bag, so there’s a wide lip of fabric at the top that occasionally made it a little clunky to pull out my iPad 2. When the iPad’s Smart Cover was attached, it was a little tougher to remove since the Smart Cover’s leather material created a bit of friction with WaterField’s padding.
After a while, I got better at removing my iPad 2 from the iPad Wallet, and I’ve grown to like the case. I can’t think of another iPad-specific case this slim that includes a pocket for Apple’s keyboard, and the entire package (including the aforementioned accessories and shoulder strap) weighs just 3.3 pounds. If you can get through your day with little more than an iPad and a keyboard, WaterField Design’s iPad Wallet isn’t a bad way to do it.