Second Look: Apple Smart Case for iPad 2 and the New iPad Review

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apple smart case for ipad 14

Today, we’re doing Point-Counterpoint with Apple Smart Case reviews.  Douglas Forrester liked his case, and I didn’t like mine.  Julie thought people might be interested in a different take on the Smart Case.

I love Apple’s Smart Cover, and I’ve used them on both my iPad 2 and my new iPad.  I love the protection it offers the screen, but I also want the back of my iPad covered and protected.  I tried a clear skin on the back of my iPad 2 with unsatisfactory results, so I ended up using clear/frosted back covers from third-party vendors.  I like the protection these back covers offer, but there’s often a lot of the metal back left unprotected by the back cover.  I was thrilled when I saw that Apple had decided to sell the Smart Case for iPad 2 and the new iPad.  In the photos, it looked sleek and protective.  Luckily for me (unluckily for my bank balance), I live only a couple of miles away from an Apple store.  I rushed over and bought a red Smart Case.  Today, I’m going to rush back over and return the Smart Case.  I know – I’m shocked that I’d return an Apple product, too!

Most photos can be clicked for an enlarged view.

I was happy to see the Smart Cases were made of polyurethane.  I have a beautiful red leather Smart Cover that I love, but I worry it’s going to get damaged when I stuff the iPad in my bag to take along with me.  I thought I’d use the Smart Case when I wanted to travel with the iPad.  It would cover every inch of my iPad, and it would be tough enough that I wouldn’t have to worry about my keys or a pen scuffing the case itself.  I’ve also noticed that the Smart Cover pops off the new iPad much more frequently than it did with the iPad 2.  It would be nice to not worry with the Smart Case about  my front cover popping off, too.

The case measures 9.8″ long X 7.75″ wide X 0.375″ thick.  It weighs 5.25 ounces on my digital kitchen scale.  The new iPad measures 9.5″ long X 7.31″, so you can see the case adds a bit to the iPad’s footprint.

apple smart case for ipad 1The Smart Case is available in red, light gray, dark gray, green, blue, and pink.  Of course, I chose the red.  This case is much brighter than the red of my leather Smart Cover.  The exterior of the Smart Case feels just like the Smart Cover feels – smooth with just a hint of velvetiness.

apple smart case for ipad 3aapple smart case for ipad 4The interior has a suede feel.  It’s the same color as the exterior.  It’s cut away from the speaker grill area.

apple smart case for ipad 2The back of the Smart Case is the same color as the front.  There’s a white Apple logo at the same location it’s found on the metal back of the iPad.

apple smart case for ipad 8bThe first thing I noticed is that the back of the Smart Case is larger than the front cover.

apple smart case for ipad 9The back section has a stiffened rim around it, that extends past the iPad itself.  You can see this lip sticks out from the case, rather like the flat rim on a dinner plate. You can see from the dimensions listed above, the case adds about 0.3″ to the length and the same to the width of the “naked” iPad.

apple smart case for ipad 13Here, I’ve laid another new iPad over the new iPad in the case.  You can see how much bigger than the iPad the Smart Case is.

apple smart case for ipad 10Other than the hard rim, the back of the case is very soft and flexible.

apple smart case for ipad 12The iPad fits down into the case, and only very edges of the iPad are covered by the inner edges of the stiff rim.  Almost every millimeter of the front bezel is left uncovered, so the case doesn’t interfere with the front camera, ambient light sensor, or the Home button.

apple smart case for ipad 6
Exterior of the hinge
apple smart case for ipad 5
Interior of the hinge

The Smart Cover used magnets and a metal hinge to attach to the iPad.  The front cover of the Smart Case is permanently attached to the back of the case.  This is the one feature that I really like.  I don’t have to worry that the front cover will unexpectedly fall off the iPad while I’m picking it up or holding it.  In the second picture, you can also see a bit more about the structure of that rim.

apple smart case for ipad 7apple smart case for ipad 8apple smart case for ipad 8aThe volume rocker and the sleep/wake buttons are covered.  There are openings for the mute/screen lock button, back camera, headphone jack, top microphone, and the charging cable connector.  The headphone jack and the charging cable cutouts are not perfectly aligned.  The iPad’s speaker is covered with a series of small holes instead of cutting a big hole in the back as most back covers do.  Everything is useable, though.

apple smart case for ipad 15The front cover has magnets that sleep/wake the iPad, just like the Smart Cover does.  This function works well with my new iPad.  As you can see from the top picture and the one here, the front has other magnets that hold it into the triangular stand that can be used to hold the iPad in the horizontal viewing or the typing positions.

So why am I returning this case?  Apple was so close with this case, but they forgot comfort.  That rim should have folded over onto the front just a bit instead of flaring out.  As it is, that hard rim sticks out from the case and digs into my hands.  I really do use my iPad for hours a day, and I hold it the entire time.  I never use stands, not even the folded-up front stand.  That hard rim digs the entire weight of the iPad plus the case – about 1.77 pounds for my WiFi iPad with the Smart Case – into my hands and against my thumbs.  That doesn’t sound like much, until you think of that weight being pressed into a very narrow strip of the skin on the palms of your hands for hours a day.

apple smart case for ipad 11The soft, flexible back combined with that hard rim causes another problem, too.  The iPad fits just loosely enough in the back and the rim has just enough flexibility that it pulls away from the iPad when you pick it up by the sides.  This photo shows me holding the iPad by the case.  I’m just holding it out; there’s nothing pulling down on the iPad other than its own weight.  You can see the edge pulls away from the iPad when you hold it this way.  It’s not loose enough that the iPad can pop out of the case, but it feels unstable and makes me think I’m about to drop it.

That rim is the killer for me.  It makes the iPad look like it’s laying in one of those Styrofoam trays they put ground beef in at the supermarket, and it really hurts my hands.  It’s the deal breaker.  Sure, it’s cheaper than buying the Smart Cover plus a back cover, but I’d rather pay a little more and spare my hands.


Product Information

  • Apple iPad 2 or new iPad
  • Covers the entire iPad, with only minimal openings for the connectors and camera
  • Polyurethane, so you don't have to worry about scratching the cover itself
  • Cover is permanently attached to the back case
  • Sleep/wakes the iPad
  • Folds into a stand
  • Has a hard rim that extends past the iPad's edges that are very uncomfortable to hold
  • Some of the openings don't align properly with the connectors underneath
  • Obscures the nice metal backing of the iPad

21 thoughts on “Second Look: Apple Smart Case for iPad 2 and the New iPad Review”

  1. Gadgeteer Comment Policy - Please read before commenting
  2. i’m using cooler master case about half of the year. and i wonder when apple anounce his case, because it was a bad copy of cooler master.

    jut look
    (it’s in russian, but you can see case on pictures)

    the greatest feature of this case it that backside not PU with ugly edges but plastic, that snaps to the edges of ipad.

    it’s much more durable and provide a better protection. also it’s very lightweight.

    i also think that users of apple case will have a problem with camera – the hole is really tiny.

    and cooler master case costs only 15-20 dollars.

    p.s. red color is VERY annoying. i think you always will see cover but not ipad screen.

  3. Janet Cloninger

    @Dmitriy That Cooler Master case looks very interesting. And red is my favorite color, so I tend to want only red cases and bags when I can find them. The red doesn’t distract me at all, but that may be just because I like it so much. 🙂

  4. thanks for this wonderful review! almost order one smart cover! whoooa! now my ipad is just bare, no back cover whatsoever, just use capdase bag.

    thanks again!

  5. I just received my green iPad case. It is now the fourth case I’ve tried for my gen 3 iPad.
    @janet I appreciate your comment about the edge around the case. I had the original gen 1 iPad case from Apple, which had a MUCH larger ridge, which did cut into my hands, but I found that case in all other ways the best. I tried to find a similar case to no avail for the 3 gen iPad

    This new case (and I’ll update after a week) seems to me to be the best descendent of that much missed case – it’s light, protects, and just seems to work. The ridge is still there, but is smaller than on the old case, so it is a huge improvement. So, far it seems to be the best of the four cases I’ve tried.
    @dmitry The whole around the camera lens seems perfectly sized and doesn’t affect it at all, AFAIK. I do wish I’d know about the Cooler Master, because I would definitely have tried that.

  6. Forgive me for the typos I just noticed in my comment: using “whole” instead of “hole” and “know” instead of “known”. That’s what I get for multitasking.

  7. Janet Cloninger

    @Dmitriy I’ve been looking at the Cooler Master case, but I have a question. On the back, I can see part of it is the same color and material as the front cover. When the front cover is black, all of the back of the case is also black. When the front is a different color, I can see part of the back is a different color. Is it white or clear on the case you have?

  8. Janet, I have case with orange PU material on the front side.
    back side is white plastic and orange PU material glued on to this plastics. from the inside this PU is suede like.

    plastic part is well made and it holds firmly on the ipad corners.
    i think the weakest place is where PU front connects to the plastic.

    but after half-year using it stays unbroken. for 20 dollars it’s a good choice i think.

    i bought this case in russia, but i think it’s available worldwide.

  9. Janet Cloninger

    Dmitriy, you got a much better price than I can find here in America. It’s $30 or more at, and they usually have the lowest prices that I can find. It does look nice, though.

  10. yeah, i just found it on amazon and going to post link =)

    i have a such price because i’m working in retail company selling computer products (original link was to our company site)

    and all of our employes have a big discount from retail price.
    wholesale price on this case is 20 dollars.

    even if you bought this in america for $30 you can always return this. it’s much better than a chance to buy with discount i think.

  11. You may want to look at the Incipio Smart Feather case. I purchased one to use with my iPad 2 and the Apple Smart Cover, and I am very pleased. The case is designed with tabs that hold the cover in place along the top edge. It is very comfortable to hold even for extended periods.

  12. One thing to watch out for with the Canvas is that if the cover moves even SLIGHTLY (less than a millimeter, if you’re holding it, or the spine shifts a bit), it turns the iPad on. That was noted in several reviews, but not the iLounge one for some reason.

    AS for the Smart Feather… my issue there is that it leaves most of the top and bottom uncovered. At least this, the iSkin Solo Smart, and the Belkin Snap Shield cover those areas, even if the Snap Shield is prone to.. well, cracking and snapping at the corners. Ditto the Switcheasy CoverBuddy and Nude, which also offer more coverage than the Smart Feather.

    As for the rim… I suspect we’ve got some QC issues on Apple’s side, given how there are people who don’t have that exposed rim and sharp edge issue, and there are others who have both, or extremely bad offsets.

  13. Janet Cloninger

    @Thedigitaldoc That’s a gorgeous case! It’s a bit expensive, though. I like the way the stand function looks, too. Hmm, I wonder if they need one of their new cases reviewed… 😉

  14. Just received a new smart case and, after reading your review I have to admit I was somewhat biased wether or not I was going to like it.

    Well, I do, because:

    – it works. Up to now I was very much convinced of my Stilgut leather case but was somewhat annoyed at the same time that the magnet sleep function worked only for a limited time for whatever reasons.
    The smart case is really smart, close it and your iPad is switched off for good and, more importAnt, stays off until you open it again.

    – it offers all-around protection, virtually no spot is left unprotected.

    – the edge around is annoying, true … have to see if it could be sanded down somewhat, should do the trick.

    The only minus I see so far is that it is impossible to just sweep off dust and debris from the iPad screen since the frame is slightly elevated over the screen – meaning you’d swipe the dust into the tiny crack that runs all along the perimeter.

    … and it would be much nicer if it was not PU but leather …

  15. Like Daniel Saroff, I am on my fourth case for the iPad3, and loved the original case on my iPad1. I wanted to be happy with The Apple iPad Smart Case, but I am in complete agreement with this review: the sharp edges hurt my hands, and the case should be slightly smaller for a snug fit. It seems my best option at this point is to settle for the case I dislike the least. What a disappointment.

    I appreciate the review and comments on this page.

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