Review: Hex Axis Folio for iPad 2, iPad (3rd/4th-Gen) + iPad mini
Hex has added to its lineup of folio-style cases with the launch of Axis Folio for second-, third-, and fourth-generation iPads ($80) and the iPad mini ($70) -- the Fleet pattern is pictured here. The design is very similar to the company's earlier Code Folio, although the models we received this time around are covered primarily in waxed canvas. As such, this review is heavily based on our prior full-sized iPad Code Folio review. We've updated the text to note differences and include the smaller iPad mini version.
The first thing we noticed about Axis Folio is its atypical thickness. It’s not due to the flat cover, but rather the bulky soft-touch-coated plastic frame, which is unlike any we’ve come across in the past. Measuring half an inch around the edges, the hold is secure, but we’re just not sure why Hex didn’t shave a few millimeters off of the bottom to slim it down. Overall it’s not an empirically bad thing, and it looks and feels nice, but it’s certainly strange in the current ecosystem that promotes device and accessory thinness. The plastic is molded so that there’s still easy access to the ports and buttons, and a waveguide improves the audio performance in a small but discernible way.
We like the extras lining the leather inside front covers of these cases, but were slightly disappointed by what’s missing. In the larger case, there are three credit card-sized slots, a document pocket running all the way across, room to stuff small papers between the layers, and a pen/stylus holder. The iPad mini case has only three card slots and a vertical pocket. Two to three sets of bumps allow the plastic holders to stand at different viewing angles, although none of them are as low as we prefer for typing. The one surprising omission is auto-locking magnets; most iPad and iPad mini folios these days have the feature, making these cases feel somewhat incomplete. There is, however, an elastic band to hold the lid shut.
Since two other patterns of Axis Folio will soon be available, rounding out the family, Hex really should have taken this opportunity to incorporate the magnetic unlocking feature found in most rival folios today, and we’re somewhat disappointed that it didn’t do so. Regardless, these are two attractive iPad folios, but they’re also quite expensive for waxed canvas cases. If you’re willing to pay a premium, can accept a thicker than average case, and are OK without automatic screen locking, they may be worth checking out. Each earns a limited recommendation.