iPad Total Coverage:

Case- and Cover Reviews

I have a bit of a love and hate relationship with the idea of a case or cover. I wrote a whole article about it on this very site, but the fact remains that this is the type of accessory that almost every iPad owner will end up buying. So of course we have to check out the most popular options.

Personally, what I look for in a good tablet case or cover is something that doesn’t interfere with the experience of using the tablet and (if possible) adds extra functionality to boot.

So here you have some examples of cases and covers that people out there buy most often. Are they any good? Well you’ll have to read on to hear the verdict.

My top picks, the products that are noteworthy in some way, are listed first. The rest, well you can take them or leave them, but either way they aren’t in any particular order.

Top Pick: Otterbox Defender for iPad Air 2

Otterbox has developed a formidable reputation among smartphone and tablet users. I think it’s no exaggeration to say that they are the preeminent protective case makers today.

Of course, the level of protection they provide is a privilege that you have to pay for, but at least this is a no-nonsense product and design without some sort of useless gimmick to try and stand out. A Hello Kitty special this is not.

The Defender for Air 2 comes in a few colors. The only ones that I am aware of are black, “crushed damson” and “glacier” – although technically I don’t think those are real colors. To my primitive eyes they look purplish and gray, respectively.

The design of the Otterbox is something I can best describe as “military grade”. If you are into stealth war machines like the RAH-66 Comanche then the angles and bulges of the Defender will be right up your alley.

The case has holes in all the right places, doesn’t get in the way, and appears to add very little bulk to the iPad, which is surprising given how much has been put into it.

It has three separate polycarbonate layers of protection that provide a high degree of shock protection, and it also has a built-in screen protector. A really neat feature is the inclusion of port covers, so that the ports are protected from dust and so on.

Without a doubt this is the best protective case for iPad you can buy and the price is even reasonable. There’s also a hard shell with stand included, in case you want to type up your war correspondence piece while visiting foreign shores. Finally, the clincher is the warranty that Otterbox includes, which covers you for a year from purchase.

Best Otterbox Alternative: SUPCASE Heavy Duty Beetle Defense

The SUPCASE certainly looks tough, but it looks tough in the way that a scarred and grizzled mercenary looks tough. What I’m saying is that the SUPCASE Beetle is ugly. Of course perhaps you really like it and I understand that the functionality of a case has some effect on how it looks, but if Otterbox can make a case both attractive and tough, then everyone should be able to do it.

This case is made specifically for the Air 1. It will not fit anything else, not even the Air 2. So make sure you get the correct version to avoid disappointment.

One thing in its favor is that it’s half the price of the equivalent Otterbox products. It also offers a polycarbonate shell, but unlike the three-layer design of the Otterbox, here you only get two.

The front cover has a built-in screen protector and there are port covers galore, making sure that you don’t get dust and other unwanted material in there.

People who have bought it are very positive about the fit, finish, ease of installation and the quality of the screen protector.

Older versions of the product apparently were much more difficult to install and some people even managed to damage or scratch their iPads during installation. This seems to be a problem of the past however.

The accounts of involuntary drop testers that I have read are also encouraging. One horror story involves a 10-foot drop onto a hard floor, but the poor guy’s iPad Air survived with no damage. That’s a pretty good endorsement. Why don’t I rate this above the Otterbox? Well, it’s hard to say. I would never judge you for going with the cheaper option and clearly this is a great product, based on what people are saying, but there is something to be said for buying from a more established brand. Of course, these guys won’t become a known brand like Otterbox if people don’t buy the stuff. Personally, I’d still go with Otterbox.

Best Ipad Mini Case:
Topsky Shock-Absorption Three Layer Armor Defender

Based on just the description I can already tell that this is a pretender to the Otterbox throne. It even says “three layer” and “defender” right there in the title.

Unlike my Otterbox Top Pick however, the Topsky is designed for the iPad Mini. Almost every model of iPad Mini by the looks of it.

There’s a scratchproof outer layer, a second layer with shock absorption, and a third anti-shock bumper. There’s also an integrated kick-stand and a screen protector, cleaning cloth, and stylus. That’s a lot of value for thirty bucks.

My worries about low quality seem to be unfounded. There are many stories of how this product saved hordes of apparently supernaturally clumsy iPad Mini owners from higher insurance premiums.

So it seems to do what the Otterbox does at half the price and with the addition of a built-in kickstand. The only thing that apparently sucks is the included screen protector, but who actually uses these, Right?

Well, that’s actually one of the major downsides, since the Otterbox has a very good one built in. Still, if your budget will not stretch to the price of an Otterbox, this is a great choice.

Best Value for Money: ESR iPad Air 2 Smart Case

This smart case from ESR comes in so many colors, you guys. Seventeen by my count.

For the most part this cover is the same as every other tri-fold smart cover on the market. They did however miraculously manage to misspell “compatibility” consistently throughout all the marketing material. Not something that fills me with excitement.

The other big claim by ESR is that the magnets they’ve used in this cover are stronger than usual. I can’t seem to find customer comments that confirm that claim, but there are no complaints about the magnets at all, so that’s good.

Of course, like most smart covers this provides exactly zero drop protection, but that’s not something specific to this product.

It should also be noted that this only works with the Air 2. The holes for the Air would be different, it seems.

The other interesting thing to note is that people seem to like and even prefer this cover to the original Apple product. Perhaps not surprising, given that it’s five times cheaper.

Although no one mentions any quality issues, even if there were you could buy five covers and just discard them as they wore out.

In the end I think this product represents great value for money and if you don’t care about protection but do care about fashion, this is in fact the perfect solution to your problem.

EnergyPal iPad Mini 2/3 Cover

The iPad Mini is a fine machine and it really is amazing that Apple can squeeze basically the same component from the 9.7” devices into an eight-inch device.

Although this case is not compatible with the latest iPad Mini, the 2013 and 2014 models it is designed for are certain to be around for quite some time, since the urge to upgrade iPads is much less intense than with other smart devices.

Something that is definitely “mini” about this case is the price. About ten bucks will get you your own unit. I’m not one to complain about low prices, but the price tag does make me a little skeptical about the quality, especially over time.

Indeed, the cover is made of PU leather, which is usually not something that wears very well, whether “premium” or not.

There’s also an “HD” screen protector included, although how a screen protector can be “HD” is not made clear. Maybe if I use a non-HD one my screen will be blurry? Anyway, moving right on, I do like the fact that the inside lining of the cover is actually microfiber. Which means that not only will avoid scratching the screen, but may actually clean it a bit too.

You have quite a pick of colors. There are six shades available ranging from brown (yuck) to bright pink. That should make the little princess in your life very happy indeed while she spends the whole day watching sickly sweet shows on the Disney channel.

As is usual there is a built-in stand, which sports two pre-set angles to choose from.

Overall people seem quite pleased with the purchase at the price, although the material has been described as being “like cardboard”, which is honestly not something I want to hear. There also seem to be some manufacturing problems, with missing cutouts for some buttons on the iPad.

Let’s be honest though, at this price you can afford to try it and dump it if you don’t like it. Treat these covers like disposable items and you won’t be too disappointed when they do eventually wear out.

MoKo iPad Pro 9.7 Case

As I write this the iPad Pro 9.7” is the latest darling of the Apple tablet range. It squeezes much of the impressive guts from the far larger iPad Pro 12.9” into a body identical in size to an Air 2. This MoKi case is therefore one of the very first designed specifically for this new thin and light performance monster.

The first things I have to talk about is the color selection. There are some really nice color options on display. The Rose Gold is especially nice given that you may not be able to find a Rose Gold iPad, because they are usually in high demand. This way you can give that Space Gray iPad Pro the look you wanted in the first place. It’s a small thing, but totally worth it, I think.

It’s not just plain shades either, you can get a number of patterns and pictures, which are not exciting to me personally, but I can see them appealing to quite a few people.

The rear hard shell is transparent and has been designed in a very clever way to leave the entire screen open, while still securing the case to the body of the iPad. The whole thing seems to add little bulk and let’s you see your tablet in as naked a form as possible. I like how the MoKo tries to stay out of your way.

In terms of how well it will wear or protect your iPad? Hard to say. It is very cheap, for one thing, and at this point has not been out long enough for people to realize how quickly it breaks or wears out. However, MoKo has a lifetime warranty on these, which seems insanely confident. Of course, there is a “terms and conditions apply” note attached to that statement, which probably involves solar eclipses or something equally rare to get them off the hook.

People who have bought it are raving about the quality for the price and seem very happy with it. I find it hard to recommend though. iPad Pros start at $600, which makes it seem very strange to put a $10 case on it. On the other hand, if I spent that much I may only have $10 left for a case, so really you pay your money and make your choice.

Trent Airbender

I really flipped back and forth over whether this should go on my keyboard review page or here. In the end this is also a case and it is also one of the best-selling products in the category of cases.

The most ironic thing about this case is the fact that, despite the name, it doesn’t work with ANY of the iPad Air devices. Way to fail at marketing, guys. Instead, this fits the iPad 2, 3, and 4.

Now that the minor disappointment is out of the way, we can talk about how clever this case is. It has a big and shiny hinge on its spine which lets you fold it open like a clamshell and use the iPad like a sort of pseudo-laptop. The awesome thing is that you can swivel the iPad’s orientation so that you can type in portrait mode. This may seem a little useless, especially with the advent of split screen apps, but some scenarios, such as using movie script writing software, really benefit from the paper-like portrait view.

Overall I think this is a smart idea and a well put-together package. Apparently the keyboard part can detach without any undue drama, which was the main thing that I was worried about when I first saw it.

A few people have complained that the keyboard’s USB port is a bit dodgy in some cases, but this seems to be a minority.

Should you buy this? The main advantage to this is that it gives you a more laptop-like experience.

However, there are several people that have pointed out that the keyboard itself is of questionable quality and the metal stand may look solid, but is actually quite wobbly.

Personally I’d head over to my keyboard review page and give this one a skip.

LUVVITT Clear Case for iPad Pro 9.7”

There is not too much to say about a product like this. It fills an obvious niche whose existence has always puzzled me. You see, although there are exceptions most smart covers only cover the front of the iPad. It is possible to find combo products that include both the front and rear covers, but I rarely see that.

The LUVVITT case can be combined with a smart cover to protect both the front and rear of your iPad. As a bonus, because it is clear, you don’t have to worry about the color clashing with either your iPad or the smart cover that you have chosen.

I generally find the combination of a rear shell and smart cover to be the least obtrusive when it comes to cases. It doesn’t do much to detract from the tablet’s design or functionality. The best advantage of these is that they protect the corners of the tablet, which is where the nastiest damage happens in a fall and you run the highest risk of cracking the screen.

If you’re lucky you’ll never have the chance to test the protective claims of your case maker, but the few people who have been unlucky in this way say it holds up well. It also deals with something that causes fall in the first place: grip. iPhones and iPads are slippery thanks to the smooth finish of the body. Too many times have I seen a person put one on a knee while trying to do something else, only to have it slip and inevitably fall. Having a case like this significantly reduces the instances of that happening.

The LUVVITT is cheap, simple, goes with everything, and does what it says. It’s a good product for someone who just wants to keep their iPad Pro shiny for that little bit longer.

Fintie iPad Air 2 Case

Round, round, get around, I get around. That’s the lyric the Beach Boys came up with many years before my time, but it may as well have referred to this very rotation-obsessed case from Fintie.

It makes sense though. One of the biggest complaints against using a tablet to replace a laptop is the fact that adjusting the angle of the screen is not very easy. Most cases that double as stands may give you two or three angles to choose from and a smart cover gives you just the one. This case gives you an enviable amount of adjustment, while still functioning as a case.

I’m also impressed by how many color and design options there are. I have seen 42 unique designs, although there may be more. From simple primary colors to floral prints that no sane person could want, there is a design that will appeal to someone.

While it does have the auto wake/sleep function provided by magnetic smart covers, the Fintie uses a little Velcro tab to keep closed when on the move. I don’t particularly like that since this is likely to wear out rather quickly, whereas the magnets keep going for quite some time.

One of the things people seem to love most about this particular cover is that it has very deep grooves for the little stand tab to go into. I’ve had cases before where the slightest breeze would make the iPad fall flat; that seems to be a non-issue with this case.

Personally I don’t like these sorts of cases. My opinion is that you either go minimal with just a smart cover or you go all the way with an Otterbox. To me cases like these don’t justify their bulk because they don’t really offer protection.

That being said, if you spend a lot of time using your iPad with a keyboard this could be a great choice and for what it is there are few others that are as well-designed. Also, it’s pretty cheap, so if you don’t like it there is very little risk involved.

MoKo iPad Mini 4 Case – Ultra Slim

MoKo’s stuff is really starting to grow on me and I have a personal affinity for things that get in the way as little as possible.

This ultra slim case for the iPad Mini 4 seems to fit that bill to a tee. It’s very closely aligned with the reference smart cover design with a trifold cover. The rear cover is also designed in such a way that it doesn’t intrude on the front of the iPad and it leaves generous space for all the connectors and ports.

It also comes in many more colors and designs than the stock stuff from Apple, and costs nearly ten times less. Really. if you are not worried about drop damage this is the perfect vanilla product that still lets you do something a bit more stylish with the look of your tablet.


I have an article on this site where I argue against the use of cases and covers for the most part, but I have to say that many of the covers and cases I have looked at don’t make too much of a nuisance of themselves and look pretty good. Even the ones that don’t actually offer any impact or drop protection can help minimize the scratches your iPad will pick up from use. Personally I don’t care, since I give my old iPads away rather than reselling them, but that could be a serious consideration if the resale of your old iPad helps finance the upgrade.

In the end, your preference when it comes to cases and covers is really a very personal issue, but hopefully you’ll find the perfect example right here on this page.