This week has been full of announcements both big and small from Apple. One of the smaller things was a new option for those trying to protect their iPad from the wear-and-tear of everyday use: the Smart Case. Offering the same magnetic display on / off magic as the Smart Cover, the $49.95 Smart Case also adds in full body protection (similar to the original iPad case) for either the new iPad or iPad 2. The extra protection is definitely a good idea for those trying to protect their entire device, but in use the Smart Case doesn't exactly live up to what we expected (or hoped) it would be like.
Doesn't exactly live up to what we expected
The Smart Case is made of a soft-touch polyurethane coming in six colors: light and dark gray, blue, green, pink, and red. Right away you can tell that this case isn't for protecting your iPad from falls; it's clear that Apple was more concerned with preventing scratches. Getting an iPad in or out of the case is more difficult than it should be because unlike the original iPad case, it doesn't easily slide in — you have to push the tablet into the case similarly to how you place an iPhone 4 or 4S into a bumper. It's not exactly the easiest process.
Once you finally get an iPad into the case, more problems become apparent. The sides are far looser than we'd like, regardless of whether it's a new iPad or an iPad 2 in the case, with the aluminum frame of the iPad often popping out. If that weren't enough, the camera, headphone jack, and side button openings are offset. Because of this, the side button can be difficult to reach, particularly when it's switched down. Opening the front cover is also significantly more difficult than it should be. In our experience, the best way to open the cover was by slipping a fingernail under it — something far easier said than done. This is especially difficult in comparison to the more natural page-flipping motion it takes to open a Smart Cover.
The Smart Case disappoints in use as a stand as well — using it to prop-up an iPad to type is as it should be, but using it as a stand for the purpose of watching a video or video chatting with someone is a balancing act at best, requiring not only a super-deft touch but also a stroke of luck.
The trade-off isn't really worth it
Overall, the Smart Case offers more protection than the Smart Cover, but it does so in a way that makes it more difficult to use — the trade-off isn't really worth it. Despite all that, if you're looking for more protection and only trust Apple, the Smart Case is now available in the Apple Store.