Company: Native Union
Compatible: iPad Air, iPad mini
Native Union Gripster Wrap for iPad Air + iPad mini
Native Union's 2012 Gripster, a simple shell with an attached handle, started off as a licensed OEM design from a company called S&K Starking. In the time since, Native Union seems to have taken control of the design, and it has now released Gripster Wrap for iPad Air ($70) and iPad mini ($60). While the new versions are similar to the original in some ways, Wrap is now a folio, with an attached lid that's divided into five segments. The handle on the back has been improved, and an elastic handstrap has been added. Both versions of Gripster Wrap come in more expensive leather editions, but this review is focused on the standard polyurethane material.
Aside from the obvious size differences, both of the Gripster Wraps share the same design. The shell is a standard plastic material, clipping onto the back of the tablet and leaving each of its ports and buttons exposed. Along the edge where the lid attaches, the corners are scored to help ease installation and removal. In an early version of the case, the lid was a separate piece, but it’s now glued in.
Instead of rolling into a stand like Apple’s Smart Cover does, the lid of Gripster Wrap simply folds in on itself, using magnets to hold its shape. It does properly wake and sleep the iPad when lifted and closed, but we’re a bit disappointed that it can’t act as a stand on its own. That’s not to say there’s no stand functionality, though, as the rear handle allows for viewing and typing positions. It rotates 360°, and locks in place every eighth of a turn. Of course, the handle can also be used for toting the tablet around; how many people actually do so is a separate issue. As for the strap, it’s quite tight — we could only fit three fingers through — but does allow for a more secure grip.
Gripster Wrap is a nice enough case, but the price on each version is about $20 too high. When it comes to folios, we prefer lids that serve as stands, rather than requiring separate big plastic handles on the back, which is a serviceable solution, but not ideal. We appreciate that Native Union tried something novel though, especially with the design of the lid, and can offer a limited recommendation. If the handstrap or handle is particularly appealing to you, this could be a nice choice, but many users who want a folio will be better served by a less expensive case.