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ESR Trifold Smart Case for iPad Pro review: The case that Apple forgot

Remember Apple's Smart Case, before the Smart Folio, and even before the Smart Cover? Yeah, this is like that. It's a one-piece case that protects the back and edges of your iPad Pro with rigid plastic. It also protects the screen with a microfiber-lined polyurethane trifold smart cover. Magnets inside the cover activate the iPad's Sleep/Wake functionality. The PU cover folds around so it acts as a horizontal stand at two angles, a high angle for viewing videos and a lower angle for typing.

The Good

  • Lightweight
  • Full protection design
  • Doubles as a stand
  • Utilizes Sleep/Wake functionality
  • Attractively priced
  • Protective

The Bad

  • Blocks Apple Pencil charging
  • Not premium materials

All over protection

ESR Trifold Smart Case for iPad Pro: What I like

ESR Trifold Smart Case for iPad Pro 2018

ESR Trifold smart case for iPad Pro (Image credit: Karen S. Freeman / iMore)

When I worked in the Apple Store last year, customers would always complain that Apple only carried the Smart Cover, which attaches magnetically to the iPad and covers the screen but doesn't protect the back of the iPad at all. The current Apple accessory lineup also includes a Smart Folio, which does cover the front and back of the iPad Pro, but leaves the edges of the device totally exposed. Years ago, Apple made a Smart Case, which was one piece and covered both the front and back of the iPad. This case by ESR is modeled after that old favorite Smart Case.

The back part of this case is hard plastic, but it's not hard to put on or take off. All of the expected cutouts are there so the iPad is fully functional within the case, with the exception of charging an Apple Pencil.

There are slight variations in the ESR Trifold Smart Cases; the Yippee style has an opaque back, you cannot see through it at all. It has one large cutout at the top and one at the bottom for the USB charging port, microphones, Sleep/Wake button, and speakers. There are two cutouts on one side for the volume buttons and a magnetic connector. The other side has a large cutout that exposes the microphone and accommodates the cover hinge.

The Lightweight style case has a translucent back, so you can clearly see the color of the iPad through it. There are also slightly different cutouts. The top and bottom have precision cutouts for the speaker holes, microphone holes, and USB charging port. There are embedded plastic button covers for the Sleep/Wake button and volume buttons. There is a small cutaway for the magnetic connector and the opposite side has a large cutout to accommodate the case hinge and microphone hole.

The front trifold cover folds back into a stand for the iPad Pro. It can stand upright, which is a great angle for viewing videos or reading a book. It can also stand at a lower angle, great for typing on the screen.

It's just smart to have a cover that protects the front, edges, and back of the iPad. This is my personal case that I've been using since the latest iPad Pro was released. I once dropped my iPad from a height of about five or six feet onto the carpet and it was fine — and no, I did not drop it on purpose in order to test it. This was a real life whoops.

ESR Trifold Smart Case for iPad Pro 2018

Not for everyone

ESR Trifold Smart Case for iPad Pro: What I don't like

The ESR Trifold Smart Case has the cutout for the magnetic connector, but it's rather pointless since the cutout isn't big enough to accommodate the Apple Pencil itself. So if you are an Apple Pencil user, this is not the case for you. ESR also makes cases that do dock and charge the Apple Pencil, which I will review at a later date.

it must be noted that this is a sub-$20 case and it looks and feels like it. It's plastic and it's not going to fool anyone. It's also embossed with the ESR logo on both the front and the back, which isn't my favorite thing to see. However, I like the design and the colors enough to overlook these things, but it's something you should know before buying.

Smart protection for the money

ESR Trifold Smart Case for iPad Pro: Bottom line

This bargain smart case has Sleep/Wake functionality and protects the front, back, and sides of your 2018 iPad Pro. It also folds back into a stand that can be used at two different angles. However, it does not have Apple Pencil charging and docking functionality which may be a dealbreaker for some.

Karen S Freeman
Karen S Freeman

Karen is a contributor to iMore.com as a writer, social media manager, and co-host of the iMore Show. She’s been writing about Apple since 2010 with a year-long break to work at an Apple Store as a product specialist. Before joining iMore in 2018, Karen wrote for AppAdvice and WatchAware. She’s an early adopter who used to wait in long lines on release days before pre-ordering made things much easier. Karen is a wife and mom (and dog mom) who is also a part-time teacher and occasional movie extra. She loves to travel the world and is always looking for portable tech and accessories so she can work from anywhere.