Review: Urban Armor Gear Composite Case for iPad mini
Following its very cool Composite Case for iPhone 5, Urban Armor Gear is now shipping its Composite Case for iPad mini ($50), as well. The general styling is the same, although this one includes swappable cardboard inserts that allow for a bit of color customization. There were a few more issues with this one than the iPhone version, but it's still a good case.
Composite Case’s body is mostly hard plastic, molded into a modern design complete with non-functioning screws. Rubber lines the edges, forming a substantial lip, and juts in deeper along the top and bottom. Two versions are available; Navigator combines white with black rubber, while Scout is entirely black. Both come with black and orange inserts that fit between the iPad and the case. While this looks pretty cool from the outside, we were surprised to find the only thing holding it in place, and keeping it from sliding around, is a pair of small hard plastic nubs. They’re so small that the inserts can slide out of place when installing the iPad—the tablet is really the only thing keeping the cardboard where it’s supposed to be. And while the case can be used without an insert, the hard nubs remain in place, poking into the iPad’s back. Urban Armor Gear should consider a different system for inserts with greater stability and a softer nub material.
We encountered some minor issues with the port openings on Composite Case. Both the headphone and Lightning port openings are large enough to accept Apple’s plugs, and slightly larger ones from third-parties, but they’re too small to be compatible with angled headphone plugs or the widest Lightning chargers. In early tests, the rubber over the Sleep/Wake Button was too stiff, making the control totally unusable, but this issue disappeared after further use. There are also protectors over the volume buttons, and they only minimally affect tactility.
At $5 more than Speck’s CandyShell for iPad mini, Composite Case is certainly more visually distinctive, and looks unlike any other case we’ve seen for Apple’s small tablet. The swappable panel is a nice touch, although we do wish it was better held in place. As long as Sleep/Wake Button sensitivity isn’t a more serious issue on shipping cases than it was on ours, Composite Case is worthy of our strong general recommendation.