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.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.
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.
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.