Review: Case-Mate Pop! Case With Stand for iPad (3rd-Gen)
We continue to love cases that combine rubber and plastic: their pairing has proven superbly protective over the past several years, and with the right designers, they can look great together, too. Led by Speck and its CandyShell line, many manufacturers have adopted co-molded designs, including Case-Mate, which recently debuted its Pop! series. First rolled out for the iPhone, Pop! has now made its way to the new iPad in the form of the Pop! Case With Stand ($50). We were seriously excited when it arrived, not only because of the material structure, but also because it includes a pop-out kickstand for video viewing. Available in white or black, both with grey accents, it's a rare example of a substantially protective playthrough iPad case with an integrated stand, a concept that is far too uncommon in the current sea of folio-style cases.
Pop’s structure comes from a plastic shell that is lined with rubber to keep your iPad’s body in place and scratch-free. Carefully molded to provide proper camera, button, speaker, microphone, and port access, Pop! Case With Stand uses the rubber to protect the edges of the new iPad’s bezel, as well as the top and side buttons, while leaving the screen exposed. The pliable edges allow for easy insertion and removal, and although the rubber sides can pull away if jostled, they snap right back in place. We found the openings to be accommodating to third-party plugs, and the side switch easy to access. The Sleep/Wake button requires a bit of extra force to press, but the volume buttons remain tactile. Screen film does work with the case, though the case fits tightly enough that it may peel the film off slightly in a corner if not adjusted properly, a demerit if you’re looking to completely cover your iPad.
We generally appreciate how well Case-Mate integrated the C-shaped hide-away stand, though its stand positions aren’t perfect. When folded down, it snaps flush into the back of the case, with two small clips holding it in place. Thankfully this feature doesn’t make the case too thick; actually, the size is perfectly acceptable. The right side includes a small divot for lifting the stand out. During the first few days of use, one of the clips would occasionally stay connected and need an extra pull, but after being broken in, this is no longer an issue. Fully extended, the stand is suitable for holding the iPad upright in portrait or landscape orientation, though the angles are unusual: the iPad can move from about 45° to 70°, missing the steeper upright viewing angle supported by Apple’s Smart Covers. Unfortunately, there’s no support for a typing position, nor are the adjustments locked or ratcheted in place, both noteworthy omissions.
There’s a lot to like in Pop! Case With Stand. Case-Mate got almost everything right with the case side of the design: it looks quite nice, is very protective, and includes a stand for a price that virtually any iPad owner would find reasonable. It’s an elegant solution. However, the stand’s deep viewing angles and lack of ratcheting will be issues for some users, as will be its tendency to pull off screen film. These won’t be deal-killers for some users, but others will want to wait for an equally protective case with a more versatile stand. Issues aside, we’re glad to offer a strong general recommendation for Pop! Case With Stand; it offers a smart combination of features, and one we hope to see in more cases going forward.