Review: Newer Technology NuGuard KX for iPad Air + iPad mini
Newer Technology's NuGuard KX for iPad Air ($50) and iPad mini ($40) follow the iPhone 5/5s edition we saw earlier in the year, and share the same general design. Playthrough cases made primarily from a black rubber-like material, each of the models is lined with a shock absorbing foam on the inside, made to stand up to high drops and other accidental damage. These two tablet cases are almost identical to one another, with size being the only big visible difference. In testing, however, we found a major issue with the iPad mini version.
As a playthrough case, NuGuard KX wraps around the body of the tablet, leaving the screen totally exposed, but coming just over the edges of the bezel with a raised protective lip. It’s thicker than similar cases, which is mostly attributable to the foam on the inside. Thankfully, the case isn’t so large that it feels much more cumbersome than others. Both of the speakers and the Lightning port are exposed through individual openings, as are the side switch, rear camera, and headphone port. The iPad Air version of the case has a pair of holes for the respective microphones, while the iPad mini case covers the Retina iPad mini’s lower mic. This isn’t totally problematic, but it’s not quite right, either.
The other difference between the two sizes of the case is button protection. Each has the same level of coverage — full protection for the volume and Sleep/Wake buttons — but NuGuard KX for iPad mini exhibits a problem with non-Retina minis. As we’ve seen a handful of times with cases that aren’t properly sized, it holds down the Sleep/Wake button, causing the iPad to display the “slide to power off” message. We tried adjusting it multiple times, but the button stayed depressed no matter what. Somewhat surprisingly, button usability wasn’t an issue with the Retina version of the iPad mini, despite the fact that compatibility isn’t officially listed. The Air version also works properly.
If you’re looking for extra shock protection in a playthrough case, NuGuard KX is a good option, worthy of a general recommendation for the iPad Air. Regrettably, the smaller version is simply broken for the first-generation iPad mini it’s designed for, which is a bit confusing and certainly disappointing, the reason for its low rating; the Retina iPad mini works better, but the case doesn’t have a second microphone hole port on the back to fully accommodate it, either. Newer Technology merits some praise for making the prices of its cases more transparent and appealing since the product line was originally introduced, making them much more accessible. Hopefully, it’ll make the necessary design changes to make all iPad minis work properly in the case design.