Review: Incipio Flagship Folio for iPad Air
Incipio is back at it again with Flagship Folio for iPad Air ($70), a sequel to the 2012 iPad 2 case of the same name. Based heavily on the prior design, it's a hard plastic folio, covered with radio transparent faux carbon fiber material. The rear shell lacks any button coverage, leaving the buttons and ports exposed. Although the dimensions are different, this version of the case is very similar to the first one, and because of that, this review pulls heavily from our earlier findings.
The base of the case is polycarbonate plastic, which is used for both the rear shell and the front cover. Along with the faux carbon fiber on the outside, it’s lined with micro-fiber on the inside. Combined with the aluminum hinge system, these materials look seriously classy—better than one might imagine from the “plastic” and “faux” descriptors. Incipio’s novel hinge is attached right at the end of the cover, fitting into a depression on the back that allows it to sit flat, and running just past the midpoint of the case. The shell is adequately protective, running to all four of the iPad’s edges without unnecessarily large openings, save for a gap to relieve the plastic clip that holds the case shut. Embedded magnets work correctly to lock and unlock the displays of both iPads.
Flagship Folio’s hinge mechanism allows for eight different landscape viewing angles, achieved by folding the lid and taking advantage of the hinge. Instead of rubber feet, as seen on the original, this one uses thin slits along the tablet’s left edge to rest against ridges on the inside of the cover, with positions ranging from about 75° to about 40° off the ground. Lowering the articulating piece of the hinge and letting the the case rest against the clip brings the case to a suitable typing angle at 20°. We found all of them to be sturdy, even when the tablet’s screen is being poked and tapped. The downside to this style of case is that it requires about 7” of desk space for the lid to lay flat, unlike a Smart Cover or similarly styled case that has a much smaller footprint. It may also take some users a few tries to get used to putting Flagship Folio in stand mode, versus simply folding the cover back and having it rest flat against the case; the metal hinge needs to be placed in different orientations to support each position. After learning those positions, the folding process should become quite natural.
We originally found Flagship Folio deserving of credit on creativity, looks, protection, and overall functionality, saying it was an example of a company taking a different approach to an established style. The same can be said for this iPad Air edition, which works equally as well. Unfortunately, there haven’t been any improvements to the amount of button coverage — still none — and the price is somewhat high for a folio. The look and feel help to justify the cost, but this model falls just a bit to the B+ level. It’s still a cool case, but we’d love to see some movement forward, rather than just size adjustments.