Review: Sena Cases LeatherSkin for iPad (3rd-Gen)
We've seen a lot -- a lot -- of Smart Cover-compatible shells for the iPad 2 and now the third-generation iPad. Because the style is so basic, almost all of them are pretty much identical. Sena Cases decided to design its own variation, but since it works in leather and not plastic, its offering is quite different from the pack. LeatherSkin ($70) fits both more recent generations of Apple's tablet, and although it's pricey, may appeal to those who prefer premium materials and are willing to pay for them.
Instead of a snap-on shell, this one is a playthrough-style case fashioned entirely out of leather. LeatherSkin is limited to only four colors—flat black and textured tan, red, and blue—which are four of the five colors Apple offers as leather Smart Covers, though most differ from Apple’s flat leather texture. Still, as is the case with all of Sena’s products, we were quite impressed with the leather, which remains amongst the best found anywhere in the Apple accessory industry. The iPad slides in through the top, with a slightly off-center, snap-shut flap holding it in place while leaving access to the headphone port, rear camera, and Sleep/Wake button. Ideally, the flap would extend just a bit further for more thorough coverage. There are also openings for the side switch and volume rocker, speaker, and Dock Connector port, although the bottom corners are left unprotected. Because the rear panel is a bit smaller than the front, the sides are more contoured to the curved body than on most leather cases; all of the ports and buttons are fully accessible.
A long opening along the left side allows you to attach a Smart Cover if desired; doing so leaves about a quarter inch of aluminum exposed. The magnets are surprisingly strong enough to hold the lid shut through the leather frame that covers almost all of the bezel, and can properly activate the automatic unlocking/locking feature. Flip the case around and you’ll find a pliable flap sewn into place and held down with a magnet. Although it looks like it may be a stand mechanism at first glance, it’s actually a wallet replacement with four credit card slots along the body and an ID pocket on the flap itself.
We’ve had the same reservation with almost all of the Smart Cover-complementing cases that have come through our doors: the lid is already too expensive, particularly in the case of the leather version, which is obscenely priced at $69. Combining it with additional back protection is logical, but brings the cost to a crazy high level; in this case, you’re looking at $139 for an all-leather combination, or $109 with a plastic lid. Yet if you consider LeatherSkin in isolation, the value it delivers for $70 is solid; it’s a good case made from great leather. If you already have a Smart Cover, consider it a sunk cost, and also happen to be a fan of leather cases, LeatherSkin is a good option. It’s pretty protective—more so than any shell—and the card holders are a nice bonus. While Sena Cases could add additional colors to appeal to a broader array of customers who may want to match their polyurethane Smart Covers, this will satisfy most leather Smart Cover fans, and some people without Smart Covers.