STM Grip for iPad mini
Grip ($40) is the latest case from STM to be shrunken down from its original full-sized iPad version to fit the iPad mini. The company followed the same approach as closely as possible, with literally the only differences being the overall size and the use of one long port along the bottom for the Lightning port and speakers, as opposed to separate holes for the Dock Connector port and speaker. We found the previous model to be a very good option, and this one is no different: Grip for iPad mini offers the same high level of protection, and includes two built-in stands for multi-angle iPad use. It also comes in four colors.
Rather than faux leather, fabric, or another soft material, both the rear shell and front cover are made of hard, molded plastic. The material is lined with vertical ridges, which are handy when using the case as a stand, though the plastic is smooth. A two-inch-long plastic clip in the center of the lid’s right edge snaps around the tablet’s body, fitting into a recession in the rear shell. While it lacks button coverage, Grip’s port and button openings are properly sized—large enough to permit access, without leaving too much aluminum exposed. Inside, both the lid and shell are lined with microsuede to prevent scratches. Embedded magnets do work to wake and sleep the iPad.
This Grip suffers from the same issue as its larger counterpart: the ridges do hold the dual kickstands that fold out from the back, allowing for multiple viewing and typing angles, but the feature 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.
In the time since the original Grip was reviewed, we’ve seen some great shells that don’t skimp on button coverage, and it would be great if STM updated its lineup to match them. At the very least, we’d like the company to improve the stand and make typing better. Since it hasn’t improved at a time when rivals are rapidly evolving, Grip for iPad mini merits a slightly lower flat B rating. It’s still worthy of a general recommendation, but it needs some improvements to keep pace with the pack.