This smaller model uses the same style rubber inner lining and dimpled plastic support shell as before, shipping with a removable shield that includes a pop-out stand. It’s easy to encase the iPad mini in the soft, silicone layer first, and then double up the protection with the plastic shell; the two layers fit together well. It looks similar to any number of cases that combine materials, although the extended corners make it a bit more distinctive and add some extra protection. With the shield in place, Tough Jacket can be propped up for viewing or typing.
All the openings are properly sized, including the one for the Lightning port, allowing even the widest third-party plugs to fit without issue. Surprisingly, there’s an opening on the back of the case for the second microphone that was rumored early on. A handful of other companies are still shipping cases with similar holes, but this was something we would have expected to be fixed sooner rather than later. The button coverage is particularly well done though, offering protection without diminishing tactility. What’s missing? Any sort of screen or bezel protection, outside of a narrow lip around the edge and the raised corners.
Tough Jacket Series Case isn’t as elegant as OtterBox’s latest Defender Series Case that rings in at a $10 higher price, or as protective as Griffin’s Survivor for the same cost. Sure, it’ll keep your iPad mini protected from bumps and drops, but for the price we expect a higher level of protection—at the very least, something should be included to protect the screen. We still find this case to be a low-value proposition, and as such, it earns a C+ rating. Ballistic is trying to compete with the big names, but not bringing enough to make its offering stand out for a premium price tag.
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