Review: Rokform Rokshield v3 for iPad mini
Our iPad and iPad mini Buyers' Guide noted that "playthrough" cases now include an "ultra-protective" sub-category -- cases that could be summed up as "life-proof" if a single smart company hadn't taken that name. As demonstrated by Griffin's Survivor and Hard Candy's ShockDrop for iPad mini, ultra-protective cases generally cover Apple's devices in so much plastic and rubber that you could splash them with water, drop them on pavement, or blow dust across their bodies without fear of damage. Now Rokform has released a case that falls halfway between the playthrough and ultra-protective descriptors: Rokshield v3 for iPad mini ($59). Sharing obvious DNA with Rokform's earlier Rokshield v3 for iPhone 5 and full iPad Roklock v3, Rokshield v3 for iPad mini will appeal to a wide range of iPad mini users.
Rokshield v3’s core is an impressively molded two-piece hard plastic shell that splits in the middle, immediately above a circle-and-cross central mounting point. This shell contains four hexagonal pads that could be removed for use with Rokform’s magnetic Maglok kit—not yet released for the iPad mini—or left in place to keep the case firm on a flat surface, assuming that you don’t install a soft plastic edge bumper that’s also in the package. The mounting point on the shell connects to two included accessories: a clear circular wall mount that can be attached with built-in 3M adhesive or self-supplied screws, and a unique detachable stand. Rokform also includes a quality piece of clear screen film, plus screen cleaning and squeegee tools in each package. Seven different color options are available.
Although Rokshield v3 comes with a lot of parts, it’s explicitly capable of being used with only two: the hard plastic halves that come together to form the base case. With nothing else on, Rokshield v3 is effectively a stronger, less flexible, and more expensive alternative to Incipio’s NGP, covering most of the iPad mini’s body with rigid plastic. Used this way, it would be quite adequate by case standards, with the exposed screen, ports, speakers, cameras, buttons, side switch, and microphone as its only omissions.
Add the bumper and screen film, though, and Rokshield becomes even more protective, as well as considerably thicker around the edges. With these parts installed, you cover the iPad mini’s glass face, edges, and top and side buttons, collectively contributing to a sense that you could drop Rokshield without worrying about damage to your iPad mini—a similar feeling of safety to the Survivor and ShockDrop cases mentioned above. However, when you really consider what Rokshield v3 offers compared to Survivor and ShockDrop in the protection department, they’re not so much equivalent as differently-equipped peers. Even with the bumper on, holes remain open on Rokshield’s top, side, bottom, and back, so you can’t expect proper liquid or dust protection here. You get 90% of the body coverage, which will be enough for most people, but not everyone.
Rokshield v3’s offsets are the packed-in accessories. Although it may not wind up getting used by every customer, Rokform’s clear plastic wall mount is a smart, solid option that blends in nicely to any room’s decor—aesthetically a better option than a solid black alternative would have been. It’s easy to attach and detach with a quick twist of the iPad mini’s body.
The detachable stand is a really interesting addition, as well. Very few iPad mini cases thus far have shipped with flip-out stands, and Rokform’s design looks really cool, combining rubber, hard plastic, and two metal-pinned joints to support what the company claims are six positions—we were able to securely achieve four, including two landscape (video, typing) and two portrait (FaceTime, typing), with other positions feeling less than sturdy. Apart from protruding a bit past the back of the case, the single biggest knock against Rokshield v3’s stand is that you need to physically disconnect it to rotate it between landscape and portrait orientations. While it’s less than ideal, it’s a nice pack-in, and a little more practical than the stand included with Griffin’s Survivor.
Overall, Rokshield v3 is a very good case for the $59 asking price. We would have been completely thrilled with it if the stand and iPad mini body coverage had been a bit more sophisticated, but as it is, Rokshield v3 is directly on par with Survivor and ShockDrop. The choice of which model works best for your needs will depend on whether you place greatest value on pricing, protection, or frills; Rokform’s package favors frills while compromising a bit on protection and pricing, while ShockDrop wins on price, and Survivor wins on protection. This is definitely a step in the right direction for Rokform, and one of the most broadly appealing accessories the company has ever released.