iPad Air Smart Case review

Apple typically releases two types of cases for the iPad, the Smart Cover and the Smart Case. While the Smart Cover only protects the screen and attaches magnetically, the Smart Case provides full body protection in a variety of different colors. The last generation Apple Smart Case left us disappointed to say the least. Let's see if the new version is any better...

The first thing I noticed about the new Smart Case was how easy it snapped into place. I didn't have to force my iPad Air in any way. This is something I typically look for in a good case. I don't want to feel like I'm damaging the device in the process of protecting it.

Getting the iPad Air out of the Smart Case isn't hard either but it does stay firmly in place. I found the easiest way to remove it from the case is to pop out a bottom corner and then pop out the other bottom corner. From there, you can just lift it out. Easy enough.

Our biggest complaint about the last generation iPad Smart Case were the seams around the edges and how holes weren't cut with very much precision. It just looked and felt sloppy for a case that wasn't exactly on the cheap side. Luckily, this generation seems to improve upon the last generation. I feel as if it actually lines up quite nicely with the iPad and the holes are cut to fit. If anything, I think the lip over the top of the screen could be a little more pronounced instead of being flush. In my opinion, a slightly larger lip over the screen edges would create a little more protection if it were dropped.

Folding the Smart Case over you can use it as a stand as well. It works as advertised and in the same fashion the Smart Covers do. You can incline at a higher degree for movie watching or a lower degree that's good for typing. I don't find that the iPad slides around while typing but it isn't the most ideal case for typing either. This is probably due to my preference for having an actual keyboard when typing for long periods of time. For short periods, the Smart Case does just fine.

My only real gripe with the Smart Case is that when the lid is closed, I feel it sags a small amount in the middle. Since the back cover runs around the edges of the screen and the top cover has folds in it, it does indeed bend inwards slightly when closed. This probably could have been solved by making the top cover a little more rigid. Since it sags in the middle, there's a noticeable gap on the left bottom side, which you can see pictured above.

The good

  • Much improved over the last iteration
  • More protection than the Smart Cover, which only protects the screen
  • Doesn't add a terrible amount of bulk and weight
  • Comes in an array of both bright and neutral colors; brown, beige, black, yellow, blue, and red

The bad

  • Sags a little in the middle when the lid is closed, annoying but not a deal breaker
  • Since it sags in the middle, there's a noticeable gap in the bottom left top corner
  • Material is a little slippery, hopefully that gets better over time

The bottom line

I personally prefer Smart Covers on my iPad because they're minimal, still give me a stand option, and don't add much bulk. The down side is that they do little to protect the back of the iPad Air from getting scuffed up. If you either aren't particularly careful or you worry about scuffs on the back, the Smart Case is a moderately decent option. I still think Apple could have put a little more care and effort into a case they charge almost $100 for.

Are there destined to be better options out there for full body protection on the iPad Air? Absolutely. If you can wait for something better to come along, I'm convinced you'll not only have tons to choose from, some of those options will even cost you less.

- $79.00 - Buy Now

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Allyson Kazmucha

iMore senior editor from 2011 to 2015.