STM Grip 2 for iPad Air
As the name suggests, STM's Grip 2 for iPad Air ($45) is the sequel to Grip, which was released for both the previous-generation iPad and iPad mini. It's more than just resized, though; STM made some real changes in an effort to make it a better case. The design is still mostly plastic, with a microfiber lining on the inside, but it's become more rigid while still offering video viewing and typing angles. Four color combinations are available.
Both the rear shell and front lid are made of plastic, and are held together with a tall rubber hinge. On the previous versions of the case, both sides were lined with vertical ridges; this time, only the lid is. It uses a rubber clip to latch around the iPad’s edge, holding the case securely shut, and also has magnets that automatically lock and unlock the tablet. Fully closed, it feels slightly larger than before, thanks in part to a thicker shell, but it’s not too big. Each of the ports and buttons has an opening rather than any sort of protection.
Grip 2’s key feature is its built-in stand system. Before, it was a thin plastic leg that folded out from the back, with another, shorter one nested inside for typing. We knocked the previous editions slightly, calling for a sturdier stand, and STM answered. Now, instead of being only an inch or so wide, the stand is around 7.5” across, folding out in a U-shape. In the middle of the lid’s ridges, there’s now one that’s deeper than the rest, and it holds the iPad at a 50° viewing angle. The other ridges still work, but they don’t make much of a difference in the position. For typing, the stand is meant to rest past the lid, and ends up being much sturdier than before.
This edition of Grip is a little better than the prior version. It would be nice if it were a little slimmer, but the stand mechanism works much better than it has in the past. We’d still really like to see STM start to incorporate button protection into its cases, something that could elevate many of them from good to very good, and perhaps even great. As it stands, Grip 2 earns our general recommendation. There are better stand-equipped cases, but this is a good one.