Review: Cygnett Workmate for iPad mini
Shipping shortly after the iPhone 5 version, Workmate for iPad mini ($40) is Cygnett's take on a heavy-duty protective case. Just like the smaller version, it's a combination of a rubber lining and a hard plastic shell, although Cygnett omitted the screen film with this one. Unfortunately it doesn't succeed as well as the smaller edition, and is the first iPad mini case we've seen that would likely have benefited greatly from having the device in-hand before manufacturing.
The core of Workmate is a soft rubber skin that wraps around the body of the tablet. It’s raised in some areas and lowered in others to accommodate the hard plastic outer layer. In addition to the aluminum back, the rubber covers the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons while leaving individual openings for the iSight camera, microphone, headphone port, side switch, stereo speakers, and Lightning port. As with the other two iPad mini cases we’ve seen from Cyngett, there’s an extraneous hole on the back of the case, directly below the microphone.
While we had some minor problems snapping together the two pieces of Workmate for iPhone 5, we had real issues with properly installing the case on the iPad mini. Generally this style of case requires you to get the rubber in place, and then fit the plastic over it, and trying to do so here just didn’t work. We had a very difficult time getting the frame to fit properly, particularly at the corners; the rubber doesn’t tuck-in properly, and is particularly troublesome around the buttons. We found putting the layers together and then inserting the iPad mini to be a better, but not ideal, method. Sometimes the fit is just about right, but sometimes it’s still slightly off. When installed as well as possible, the case offers very respectable coverage; the lip around the screen prevents damage, the buttons maintain their tactility, and the ports can be easily accessed. It feels very nice to hold, although the rubber pulls too easily.
Workmate is not a bad case, but it could certainly use some finer tailoring. If Cygnett intends it to be put on as one piece, it should fuse the layers together as such. Otherwise it’s not a bad option; it’s protective and the price is fair. Taken as a whole, Workmate is worthy of our limited recommendation. Those willing to deal with the fit issues will find this to be a reasonably affordable and protective option.