Marware MicroShell Folio for iPad mini
Even though it shares a name with an earlier iPad case, Marware's MicroShell Folio for iPad mini ($35) is actually a new design from the company. It shares some of the same concepts, including a hard plastic shell and attached lid with stand capabilities, but the look and overall concept are different enough that we're surprised Marware stuck with the same name. One very appreciated change is the price: this MicroShell Folio costs half of what the last one did.
Right off the bat, we discovered that the plastic shell has been improved in a number of ways. Instead of a cheap-looking paint job, this one has a proper black, purple, or blue soft-touch finish. The overall level of coverage is roughly equivalent, with independent dips for the headphone port, microphone, Sleep/Wake button, iSight camera, side switch, volume buttons, and speakers and Lightning port. They’re all a little larger than necessary and the plastic stops a little short of the iPad mini’s metal edges, but it’s an acceptable if not perfect amount of protection. Also on the back are a ravine for holding the lid in its stand positions, and an elastic band that wraps around the front, keeping the MicroShell Folio closed.
That strap is necessary because even though the lid has magnets to lock and unlock the iPad mini, they’re not strong enough to hold it in place when the tablet’s not being used. The fact that it can also be used as a handstrap is a bonus. MicroShell Folio’s polyurethane lid feels like the same material as Apple’s iPad Smart Cover, only a little more slippery. It only folds in two columns rather than three, so instead of folding it into a triangle, you must tuck it into the aforementioned slot on the back. Some wiggling is needed to get it properly in place, but once that’s done, it’s firm on the supported angles. This isn’t the smartest way to use a cover as a stand, but it works.
This version of MicroShell Folio is clearly superior to the original, and a good choice if you’re looking for a case of this sort. Certain refinements, including a little more protection for the iPad mini’s aluminum body, would be appreciated. But for the affordable price, Marware has put out a product worthy of your examination, and deserving of our strong general recommendation.