Compatible: iPad 2, iPad (3rd/4th-Gen), iPad mini
Gripcase Gripcase for iPad 2, iPad (3rd/4th-Gen) + iPad mini
Designed with children in mind, Gripcase's lineup includes Gripcase for the second, third, and fourth iPads ($40) and a separate version for the iPad mini ($35). Pretty much identical except for their size, these foam cases combine a central holder with a raised handle that runs all the way around the perimeter. Both come in your choice of black, blue, green, purple, or red, with a plastic stand sold separately for $20. The company's website shows an iPad inside of Gripcase being dropped multiple times, with no damage done to it.
We find Gripcase to be very similar to Speck’s iGuy, although the former is more appropriate for school settings. The entire thing is one continuous piece of molded foam with a textured finish. Because the material has a good amount of give, removal and insertion are easy tasks. Neither case includes button coverage; instead, there are cutouts for the Sleep/Wake and volume buttons, as well as all of the ports. While we prefer material over the buttons, the fact that they’re recessed like they are means they’re at least somewhat protected.
We’re less forgiving of the exposed segments of the iPad’s aluminum back. The case forms an X-shape, leaving gaps. While the foam is thick enough to prevent the metal from touching the ground if the tablet is dropped, there’s nothing to protect against scratches when tossed in a backpack or during rough play. It seems to be an easy enough thing to fix; even a thin layer of material would allow the design of the X to still show.
The raised handle makes Gripcase much larger than standard iPad and iPad mini cases, but it serves dual purposes. First, it provides a convenient way to carry the tablet, especially for kids who might need something to wrap their hands all the way around. The same goes for holding it. Additionally, the raised bumper prevent the screen from landing on the ground. Not only is there a significant difference between the edge of the rail and the display, but the company says there’s a “crumple zone” that absorbs energy and directs it away from the iPad.
Gripstand’s optional plastic stand is about seven inches wide and deep, and comes up to three inches at its height point. Ridges corresponding to the handle’s shape allow you to stand your iPad or iPad mini in landscape orientation, and can also hold the full-sized tablet for typing. It’s set up to allow you to thread a charging cable through, and there’s an accessory holder on the backend.
Ultimately, Gripcase is a good choice—for some users. We can’t picture adults carrying it around, but in a classroom setting or when just handing a tablet off to the kids, it’ll keep it safe without hindering use. While maybe not as fun as iGuy, it’s a bit more practical, and as such, earns the same general recommendation.