The Best Case For the New iPad 3

By Tom Davenport on at

You've just bought a new iPad 3, and can't stop cradling it like the new baby it is. But a firm hug and keen eye won't keep it scratch-free forever, unfortunately. We put five folding cases to the test to see which would keep your gorgeous retina display safe, while adding some flexible functionality and individuality. Well, you can't run the risk of mixing your 'Pad up with someone else's...

Our requirements were simple but strict. It needs to look good, it needs a useful range of standing positions for both typing and viewing videos, and it needs to protect the iPad from that inevitable drop you know is coming.

Bonus points are awarded for internal magnets which put the iPad to sleep when you close it, with build quality and price being taken into consideration too.

 

Griffin IntelliCase

First impressions count for a lot, and I was really put off by the thin plastic and fabric cover. But it all makes sense in practise; snap in the iPad and it becomes as sturdy as the iPad itself.

The IntelliCase is basically an upgraded Apple Smart Cover, with a similar folding flap on the front but additional rear protection with the tight plastic shell. A slot on the back for tucking the cover into one of two standing positions can detract from its otherwise sleek form factor, but doubles as a useful grip for carrying the device.

It's the only case to leave the camera, speakers and buttons entirely unobstructed, and the way the shell hugs tight to the iPad like armour gives it almost drop-proof protection. Too bad I was sent a red one, because all my clothes are blue or white and I want to keep it without looking like a BNP advocate. Can I keep it, Griffin? Can I?

Price: From £23
Standing positions: Two
Internal magnets: Yes
Gizrank: 4/5

 

Belkin Slim Folio

The Slim Folio boasts a great range of standing options, so it's a disappointment to see it scuff like a boot within minutes.

For commuters and train-dwellers, it's an ideal purchase if you want to quickly adjust the viewing angle for movies. Annoyingly, the same can't be said for setting the typing position. You have to tuck the cover into this ridiculous little flap, which is so small it becomes a struggle every time. A first-world problem indeed, but the Griffin IntelliCase makes the same job effortless.

To Belkin's credit, the Slim Folio doesn't look bad and it proved to be very functional. But you bought a brand new iPad, so you're probably not the type to condone loose stitching and stretch marks after an hour of use.

Price: From £18
Standing positions: Loads
Internal magnets: No
Gizrank: 2.5/5

 

Brunswick

Tailored from real leather and posher than David Cameron's nose, ProPorta's Brunswick is aiming itself at executives with a penchant for the classic portfolio design.

Of course, it takes more than a high-brow box and free lint cloth to earn its ZOMG-flavoured price of £120. The thick, misplaced camera hole leaves a blurry vignette on every picture, and the thick exterior padding makes it almost offensively chunky.

But for the sake of balance, let's pretend you're Alan Sugar.

Alan, this case has exceptional build quality, and even puts your iPad to sleep when you close the cover. It offers three useful standing positions, and will convince others that you're not just an iPad owner -- you're a RICH iPad owner.

Of course, you're not Alan Sugar, and this case is more fugly than functional. Brunswick, you're not bad, but you're still fired.

Price: From £120
Standing positions: Three
Internal magnets: Yes
Gizrank: 2.5/5

 

iLuv

If the Brunswick were an over-priced leather model for the business class, then the iLuv is the wannabe-alternative for lean startups. It's relatively slim, cheap, and should survive a fall from a desk should you be so clumsy.

So why the awful rating? These cases just need to protect the iPad and double as a stand, right? Indeed, but the iLuv fails in both respects.

You see the strap to keep the case closed? It sucks. It uses metal poppers, and every single time you close the cover you risk catching them on your delicate retina display. Anyone with a new iPad knows they'd rather work in a sulphur mine than crack that beauty. The iLuv is already a write-off at this point, but it gets worse.

It's not worth describing how to make it stand up, because it doesn't. You can't even lay it in a decent typing position. Again, this is down to those blasted poppers, and the process is so convoluted that it's not even worth putting into words. I can think of one though: WTF.

Price: From £11
Standing positions: None
Internal magnets: No
Gizrank: 0.5/5

 

Mophie Workbook

The workbook blends the best features from its competitors into a well presented attractive case -- which doesn't quite work.

The internal magnets wouldn't work with our test unit, so I had to manually put the iPad to sleep every time. Sure, auto-sleep is an unnecessary modern indulgence, but the action is indispensable once you get used to it on other cases.

That doesn't mean you should write off the Workbook case. It looks great, it's pretty slim, and has the best range of standing positions that we found.

It's not perfect, but there are still few minor complaints. For example, the velcro patches which keep the stand in place are irksome, but ultimately useful. I'd be happy to keep using it -- if the damn magnets worked.

Price: From £35
Standing positions: Loads
Internal magnets: Yes, but don't work
Gizrank: 3/5