I use my iPad 2 a lot. I recharge it almost everyday because I’ve run the battery from 100% to less than 10%. It’s not unknown for me to recharge it twice per day or continue using it after it’s been plugged in. Most of the time I’m using it, I have my Smart Cover contorted into the shape you see in the top picture; I do that because it helps spread out the weight of the iPad 2 when I have it sitting on some part of my body. You can imagine that all that use is taking a toll on my Smart Cover. There’s really nothing wrong with it, but the molded-in folds are starting to get a little ruffled on the edges, and there are dirty places on the microfiber interior. I like my gadgets and accessories to look perfect, so I starting thinking about getting a new cover. And I wanted a red one. I didn’t want to pay twice as much for a red leather Smart Cover and get it dirty in only 3-4 months like I did the polyurethane cover. I had noticed a lot of “Smart Covers” on eBay that were half the price of the PU Apple covers. When I saw they had a red PU cover, I decided I’d buy one. But I learned once again – you get what you pay for.
Some of the pictures in this review can be clicked for an enlarged view.
I’m not mentioning the eBay vendor, because he probably wasn’t associated with the manufacturer. There seemed to be several vendors selling the same cases. The knock-off cover cost $18.95 with free shipping – about half the cost of the $39 Apple polyurethane Smart Cover and considerably less than a third the cost of the red leather Smart Cover. The package looked very much like the Apple Smart Cover package, but the back was covered with alarming stickers warning that I should “observe precautions for handling electrostatic sensitive devices.” I quickly realized that these stickers seemed to cover up any mention of the word “Apple”. They probably could have used cartoon character stickers if they had them, because the warning wasn’t important – the coverage was.
Anyway, the red was a nice rich color, but the cover didn’t feel like a Smart Cover. The exterior seemed harder to the touch than the exterior of my blue Smart Cover. It had the molded-in folds, but they weren’t as flexible as the ones on my official cover. And the interior surface didn’t have the soft, velvety microfiber fabric; instead it was a barely textured plastic. The interior of the knock-off cover won’t be offering any screen cleaning like the Smart Cover does.
I put the red cover on and immediately took it off and started to the trashcan to toss it out, but I stopped because I realized I should write this up and hopefully save someone else from wasting their money. What could possibly be so wrong with the cover, you ask? Plenty.
First off, the cover doesn’t lie flat at the open side. The package claims the cover has the sleep/wake function, but it’s not going to do anything as the cover floats in the air. I ended up spending quite some time to see if I could bend and re-bend that case so it would lay flat, but it never did. Strike one.
Next, I decided to check the position and strength of the magnets. It does have them, but you can see from the pictures (above) that the open side of official Smart Cover (top) has a wider magnetized area than the faux cover has. I can hold the iPad 2 with the screen toward the floor and the magnets can hold the Smart Cover closed. The red cover just flops open.
Since the magnets on the open edge are what hold the official Smart Cover folded into the triangular stand, I worried that the red cover wouldn’t work as a stand. You can see that the knock-off cover does roll up, but it’s not held into a very tight triangle. The weight of the iPad 2 leaning against it pushes the red cover open a bit, and this makes the iPad 2 lean back further than it does with the Smart Cover.
I also checked the magnetic areas along the metal attachment arm, and I found that both cases seemed to have magnetic areas about the same size and placement. I did find that the knock-off case doesn’t hold on to the iPad 2 as well as the Smart Cover does. When I get the attachment arm on the Smart Cover close to the correct side of the iPad 2, they grab together with a loud click. The red cover didn’t connect quite like the Smart Cover; it didn’t seem to grab as quickly nor as strongly, and the click was not as loud as the Smart Cover connecting. I had seen someone testing how strong the Smart Cover attachment was by dangling the iPad 2 from the Smart Cover over an Apple store floor. I mentioned in my review of the iPad 2 that I had tried that test, too, but I had done it over my bed. I repeated this test, and the Smart Cover required three hard shakes before the iPad 2 dropped to the bed. The faux cover required one shake. Strike 2.
The eBay cover isn’t sized properly. It’s bigger than the Smart Cover, and it hangs over the sides of the iPad 2. It doesn’t show up as well as I’d hoped in my picture, but even the plastic tube that connects the metal hinge isn’t cut properly. It’s just a bit too long, and it’s wrinkled up on one end. Strike 3, and you’re out!
You can see that the pictures all show an iPad 2 with an uncovered back. I usually use a back cover on my iPad 2, but I thought maybe the knock-off cover wasn’t fitting properly with the back cover on. I took it off and discovered the problems had nothing to do with the back cover and everything to do with the cheap cover.
So in conclusion, I can only warn you not to be foolish like me. Buying the eBay cover didn’t save me almost $20. It cost me $20, and I have nothing usable to show for it. There’s nothing wrong with my blue Smart Cover other than the dirt on the microfiber side (and my longing for a red cover), so I’ll continue to use it. Remember these two words when considering buying knock-off accessories for your electronic devices – caveat emptor!