STM Grip for iPad (3rd-Gen)
Of the many folio-style cases we've already seen for the third-generation iPad, STM's Grip ($45) is not only one of the the most affordable, but also the most original. We were a bit surprised to see a purely plastic case -- the company calls it tactical plastic -- from a manufacturer known for its great canvas bags, but the choice of materials turned out to be a good thing. Available in black, mushroom, berry, royal blue, or pink, this case is also one of the only we've seen so far that got the magnetic locking mechanism right on the first try.
As is the case with most good folios, Grip combines a molded hard plastic shell with a front cover that latches on, offering a strong hold and almost complete protection. Both the cover and shell of the case have a pattern of ridges on the outside and are lined with soft micro suede inside to protect the glass screen and aluminum back. When closed up, only the ports and buttons are left exposed, and even then, they’re just wide enough to provide convenient access for most headphones and Dock Connector cables. Rather than leaving a full gap for the speaker grill, the bottom corner of the new iPad is covered with a series of holes that allow sound to pass through. We’re also happy to report that Grip’s front flap functions properly to automatically lock and unlock the new iPad’s screen.
The grips on the case are more than decorative; they also serve to hold the dual kickstands that fold out from the back, allowing for multiple viewing and typing angles. Unfortunately, the idea isn’t perfectly executed. The viewing angle options are pretty good—we wouldn’t mind just a few degrees higher—but the typing angle is quite wobbly. This is partially due to the flexibility of the plastic connecting the cover and the shell, and while it never collapsed during testing, a sturdier stand is an improvement we’d really like to see.
Refining the stand is really the only change we’d like to see STM make to Grip for the benefit of folio users. Otherwise, it’s a truly nice case that deserves your consideration, especially considering that it made it to our offices before the new iPad was even announced and got everything right. The degree of protection it provides, combined with the cool and original design earns Grip our strong general recommendation. A few refinements would make it a top choice for many users, and a version without the front lid would be particularly welcome for users who prefer a fully playthrough design.