Company: Native Union
Compatible: iPad 2, iPad (3rd-Gen), iPad (4th-Gen)
Native Union Gripster for iPad 2, iPad (3rd/4th-Gen)
Rebadged and rebranded cases are pretty common, but it's usually not as apparent as in Native Union's Gripster ($50). Similar in concept to a couple of earlier iPad cases, this hard plastic shell is equipped with a combination stand and handle on its back. Rather than hide the fact that it bought the rights to another company's case, Native Union left markings inside indicating that Gripster actually comes from a company called S&K Starking, where it's known as Spinpadcase. At the time of our First Look, Spinpadcase sold for $28; as of this writing it doesn't seem to be available.
The shell itself is very simple, although it’s at least protective for the style. Plastic extends almost all of the way to three of the tablet’s four edges; the left is open so a Smart Cover can be used. Instead of leaving long openings for access to the ports and buttons, this case has more fitted holes and exposes just a sliver of the top and bottom edge. It comes in glossy black, grey, or white.
Gripster’s namesake feature is the D-shaped handle and stand on the back. While some competitors incorporate such a feature into the case itself, this one is attached to the shell around a large, raised, rotating base—it clicks into place every 45°. Altogether it adds a little less than an inch to the case. The soft touch-coated handle feels nice, although the likelihood of people using it as such are pretty low—it will likely be more commonly used as a stand. Because the piece flexes 180° away for the case, it allows for a wide range of viewing angles in both landscape and portrait orientations, and it stands well.
Were it the first of its kind, we might have thought more highly of Gripster, however similar cases have existed for a while now, and others have taken the concept even further. It would have also helped if Native Union hadn’t made it so obvious the case is from another company, and that it could have been had for almost half the price just a few months back. As it stands, Gripster earns our general recommendation.