Available in black, beige, brown, or purple, the case’s front and back panels are covered in the same faux leather the company uses with many of its products. It’s clear the material isn’t the real stuff, but it’s mostly nice—except for how it curls at the edges. The only interruptions to the plain, flat look are an iSight camera hole on the back and a wooden accent along the right edge of the front cover, engraved with the company’s cross logo. Curled over from that edge is a hard plastic clip, which is used to hold the case shut. It snaps onto the iPad mini’s body but is somewhat hard to actually get in place, especially with only one hand. Although it’s covered in a velvety material, the hard plastic made us worry about doing damage to the tablet’s metal body.
Glued to the right side of the back cover is the aforementioned shell. It’s much like many of the shells we see today: full coverage for the long edges, while stopping just short of the top and bottom, and leaving openings for all the ports and buttons. The volume buttons and side switch are just slightly harder to access because the rear cover sticks out a little past the shell, but it’s not a problem. Opposite the shell are four credit card slots, which double as supports for the case’s landscape orientation stand positions. Unfortunately, we began to hear the glue pulling away when we lifted part of the shell to set up the video stand. Treat it roughly or let a young child get their hands on it, and your Smart Flip Shell may be in for some damage.
While Simplism got the iPad mini holder portion of the case more right than in the past, we’re still not thrilled with this option. From the curling edges to the difficult to use clip to the poorly adhered shell, it misses on too many notes to be a real success. It’s not a totally bad case, though, as the credit card slots will likely be of value to some users. Others will like the wood, or the colors of the faux leather. Ultimately, Smart Flip Shell just isn’t strong enough to earn a recommendation given how many good to great iPad mini cases are available; it’s worthy of a C+ rating.
Updated February 26, 2013: Simplism is now also offering Smart Fabric Flip for iPad mini ($42). The design is the same as Smart Flip Shell, but the faux leather exterior is swapped out for a fabric cover, available in a number of patterns.
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