Review: SwitchEasy Pelle for iPad mini
With Pelle for iPad mini ($40), SwitchEasy has once again taken one of its full-sized iPad cases and shrunk it down to fit Apple's diminutive tablet. Costing a significant twenty dollars less than the original, the folio-style case maintains most of the same aesthetics, albeit with a few appreciated improvements. Pelle comes in blue, red, black, pink, and light green, the latter two of which feature Swarovski Elements crystals on the front. Each version comes with screen film and applicator tools, plus two sets of port covers. Updated December 18, 2013 with Retina iPad mini version details.
Rather than genuine leather, SwitchEasy went with a polyurethane faux leather for the front cover; it’s pretty nice, looking and feeling close to the original article. Like-colored stitching runs around the edges, subtly accenting the material. Pelle’s lid has one point of hinging articulation, found about an inch and a half inside the right edge, and this is where the “Key Lock” design comes into play. A silver, gold, or black chrome metal slider is housed in a sheath sewn on towards the bottom corner right over where it folds. Pull it out—stitching keeps it from being fully removable—and it allows the hinge to bend.
The cover can then be bent into both viewing and typing angles. Like with the larger version, the viewing stand allows for a variety of angles thanks to a raised ridge under the volume buttons, while the typing stand is a bit more precarious: this requires setting the edge of the cover inside a shallow recession on the back, closest to the iSight camera. If the recess was a little deeper, the hold would be better, but once you get it set up properly, it’s rather sturdy.
Pelle’s shell is similar to a number of comparable models we’ve seen in the past, but it does have a few interesting features. Thankfully SwitchEasy not only continued its practice of offering full protection all the way to the edges, but it also incorporated button protection that’s recently been added to its polycarbonate iPad mini shells. The Sleep/Wake button and volume buttons are covered with extended pieces of plastic that provide protection without sacrificing tactility, while the speakers are exposed through a pair of 28-hole grilles. SwitchEasy has really mastered the art of plastic shells.
We appreciate a lot of what Pelle has to offer, but the cover is still a bit sticking point. Yes, the rear shell is as good as they get, and the overall aesthetics are unique and appreciated, as well. If only the cover was easier to use in its typing angle, the case would be nearly ideal. We don’t view the typing angle as being as important with the mini though. SwitchEasy made real improvements and dropped the price significantly—enough to earn Pelle for iPad mini a high recommendation. If the typing angle isn’t important to you, or you’re willing to fuss with it a bit, you’ll be in good shape with a great-looking case.
Updated December 17, 2013: An updated version of Pelle has been released for the iPad mini with Retina display, most notably adding a second microphone hole for the newer model. Identical in most other ways, and fitting both minis without an issue, we’re disappointed to see that it drops button coverage, and that the lid’s magnetic lock/unlocking system has a very small movement tolerance. As a result, Pelle can accidentally lock and unlock the iPad mini’s screen very easily when tossed into a bag. Pelle’s rating drops as a result of these changes. (Additional text by Nick Guy and Jeremy Horwitz.)