I recently found some beautiful leather cases by Skytop Trading, and I said in my news post that I think their Leather Case for iPad or iPad 2 is perhaps the most beautiful case ever. I was very happy to be given the opportunity to try out the Skytop Trading Leather Case for iPad 2. When it arrived, I opened up the package and saw that my original impression was correct – it IS the most beautiful iPad case I’ve ever seen.
Some of the pictures, including the top picture, can be clicked for an enlarged view.
Skytop Trading cases are “hand-crafted in our Colorado shop using the finest Pennsylvania tanned top-grain cowhide [and are] leather lined inside.” The rich smell confirms that the case is definitely leather, and there’s no petrochemical smell that some leathers have. The construction looks perfect. The stitches are made of a thick, cream-colored thread, and they are perfectly even and straight. The contrast of the thread against the darker leather looks great. The case is available in Classic Black, Sedona Brown, and Saddle Brown. I asked for, and received, the Saddle Brown. It’s a beautiful medium, reddish brown color.
The case has a grab handle along the spine. I can’t see any padding inside, but the handle feels padded; this is probably because the strap is wrapped with a sleeve of thick leather. It’s attached to the case with silver-colored rivets, and there are silver-colored D-rings at each end of the strap. You attach the included shoulder strap to these rings.
The strap is made of the same leather as the case. It has a strap pad, which is made of the same thick leather used for everything else. The strap pad also had a cushy feeling, even though I see no padding materials. The strap has silver-colored hardware; there is a “dog leash” connector at each end that clips on to the D-rings on the grab handle. The length of the strap is not adjustable. It measures 42.25” long X 0.5” wide. The strap pad is 1.25” wide X 7.75” long.
Skytop Trading calls the case a semi-hard shell case. There doesn’t seem to be anything inside to harden the case; it’s just made of thick leather, with a double layer used for the screen cover. The back of the case is molded to fit the curved shape of the iPad 2. This is a very substantial case. The case plus shoulder strap weighs 1 pound, 7.6 ounces empty. With the iPad 2 inside, the whole thing weighs 2 pounds, 12.7 ounces. The case measures 10.75” long X 9.6” wide (at the widest point, from grab handle to closure strap) X 1.25” thick.
The case is held closed with a 1.25”-wide leather strap with a silver-colored, non-magnetic snap. When you open it up, you’ll see that the front cover has a double layer of leather over most of the surface. There are gaps between the pieces that act as hinge-points that allow the front cover to fold back much like the official Smart Cover. The Skytop Trading case also has a magnet that triggers the iPad 2’s auto sleep/wake feature when you open the cover. I’ve found the front cover is a bit stiff and it doesn’t lay completely flat along the outer open edge. The magnet isn’t strong enough to hold it closed and flat. Because of this, I can hear the click that the iPad makes when it wakes/sleeps as I’m carrying the case around. The case may soften up with use, which may allow the cover to lay flatter and the sleep/wake function to work only when I want it to work. Until then, I just turned off the sleep/wake function in the iPad 2 setup.
The iPad 2 is held in the case by a leather “frame” with cutouts for the front-facing camera and the home button. You slide the iPad 2 into the frame at the interior edge. There is no closure to hold the iPad 2 in place. You don’t have to worry the iPad 2 will fall out when the case is closed and you’re carrying it around. You may have to worry it will fall out when you are using the case as a horizontal stand. My iPad 2 stayed in place, but Skytop Trading includes a piece of adhesive-backed Velcro that you glue to the back of the iPad and interior of the iPad compartment, if you need it. I was happy to see that there is no metal that comes into contact with the iPad 2 while it’s in the case.
There are cutouts for most of the connectors and controls so you can use the iPad 2 without removing it from the case. The openings for the headphone jack, standby/power button, volume button, and screen lock/mute button are all big enough that I had no trouble using them. The opening for the docking connector was big enough to allow me to charge my iPad 2 in the case. There are three round holes over the speaker area; the sound is as good as it ever is when the iPad is in the case. And there is a cutout for the back-facing camera that didn’t cause any problems using the camera. So why did I say “most”? If you look at the picture of the top edge of the cover, you’ll see there is no opening for the microphone that’s at the midpoint between the headphone jack and the standby/power button. I worried that the thickness of the leather would make using the microphone impossible, so I did a quick voice memo recording with the iPad 2 in the Skytop Trading case. I was surprised to hear that the playback was clear and loud. The leather didn’t muffle the recording, but it may have made my voice sound just a little less Minnie Mouse – and that’s a good thing!
I do find the Skytop Trading case is a bit heavy to hold “book-style” while I read or surf for hours. It works great as a stand, though. To use it as a stand, you fold the front cover back and connect the male piece of its snap into the female piece of the snap that’s hidden under the end of the closure strap where it’s sewn onto the back cover. This folds the case into a stable horizontal stand, but it does have a fixed angle. Flip it around and you have a stable typing stand.
Skytop Trading says the case can also be used as a vertical stand, but it doesn’t seem especially stable in the horizontal position to me (see right image). I tried just snapping the closure strap onto the front cover (see left image); I found this arrangement was much more stable in the vertical position.
I think the Skytop Trading Leather Case for the iPad 2 is utterly beautiful. It’s not as rustic as Saddleback leathers, but it’s not as polished and shiny as some business cases can be. It’s a true unisex case, and it should be at home in the office or the coffee shop. It’s made of thick leather with very sturdy edges, so it should be protective against most bumps and knocks. Of course, knocks and bumps might bruise the leather, but that should just give the case some extra character. If you carry this case, you may find people come over and ask to see your case – not your iPad.