Review: STM Skinny 3 for iPad (3rd-Gen)
When Apple introduced the Smart Cover, it played up the virtues of a thin, light, unobtrusive case with cool features such as a stand with embedded magnets. While it succeeded on most counts, the Smart Cover was completely lacking in protection for everything but the front of the tablet, and overpriced to boot. Luckily, other companies haven't shied away from the challenge of producing even smarter designs, and STM is a prime example. Having made nice bags for years now, STM has just introduced the second version of its flagship iPad case, dubbed Skinny 3 ($40), made specifically for the third-generation iPad. It combines a precision-fit hard plastic back shell with an articulating front cover and magnets for screen activation. Skinny 3 is a really nice case, and demonstrates that low-profile options don't have to lack protection or features while matching Apple's Smart Cover price point.
Skinny 3 begins with a pretty standard folio design that happens to benefit from STM’s use of a really sharp-looking nylon material covering the exterior. Holding the iPad in place is a hard plastic shell on the right hand side; it’s identical to the one used on the also-new Grip, with the tablet simply snapping into place. Once you hear clicks on insertion, the iPad’s quite secure. Compared to the previous version, the edges are much better protected, especially the top and bottom; this was one of our biggest gripes with the original Skinny. The camera is precisely centered in the cutout on the back, while the side switch and volume rocker are both fully accessible.
Built into the right side of the front flap are magnets. STM’s first version of Skinny 3 didn’t account for the reversed polarity of the sensors in the new iPad, so the company physically swapped the magnets in its earliest cases, as evidenced by a small circular patch of cloth. The nylon exterior of Skinny extends to a tab on the right side of the front cover and the corresponding loop on the back of the case. That tab further holds the case closed, but also tucks in the back to turn Skinny into a stand. In all three stand orientations—video viewing, typing, and portrait—the case feels quite steady, although the typing angle is a little bit higher than we prefer. While the original Skinny also had magnets in the lid to hold onto extended plastic corners, this one relies heavily on the tab to keep itself shut.
Apart from a few little issues, STM really got most of Skinny 3’s design right. The company created a thin, light case that offers considerable protection for the new iPad while incorporating useful features like the folding stand and magnets, and on top of it all, the design looks really nice. We’re particularly happy to see improvements in the coverage of the top and bottom portions of the tablet. Skinny is certainly worth considering if you’re in the market for a folio-style design, particularly given the $40 asking price, which is the same as what Apple’s asking for the basic polyurethane model of the Smart Cover. You get a lot more protection here for the dollar, and needn’t compromise at all on style, either. We highly recommend it.