X-Doria SmartStyle for iPad mini
Very similar to Speck's FitFolio for iPad mini, X-Doria's SmartStyle ($40) does have material differences that set it apart. The folio-style case -- here seen in a special Valentine's Day edition print -- is comprised of a soft rubber shell and an attached canvas lid, printed with a raised pattern. In addition to the two limited edition, love-themed designs, there are four other colorfully patterned options available.
The iPad mini is well protected by the rear frame, which is actually good enough that we wouldn’t mind using it as a standalone playthrough case—the smooth plastic material feels better than many of the silicone rubber and polyurethane cases we’ve come across. There’s enough give to make it easy for the tablet to be wrapped inside, but once it’s on, there’s no fear of the case coming off until you want it to. In addition to a raised lip around the screen, the case offers Sleep/Wake and volume button protection, plus appropriately sized holes for the rest of the I/O ports. Along the bottom, there are individual openings for both of the speakers plus one for the Lightning port; it’s large enough to accommodate Apple’s plugs, or medium-sized third-party cables.
SmartStyle’s fabric lid expands from about six inches tall, in line underneath the iPad’s iSight camera, and hits its full height at the spine. The combination of materials and textures is unique, and the style really works. Inside the cover are a total of 30 ridges, allowing a wide degree of viewing angles in conjunction with the raised segment along the frame’s left edge. The more extreme of these at either end don’t hold the stand well, but we’re otherwise pleased with the range of options. Our biggest concern with the lid, and the case itself, is that there’s nothing to hold it closed. It’s loose enough that you may accidentally trigger the magnetic unlocking feature, or it might just flap open when you don’t intend it to.
Overall, we’re impressed with X-Doria’s latest iPad mini case. SmartStyle is distinctive yet attractive, with a respectable level of protection for the tablet and better than average stand functionality. Our only concern is with the lid; we would’ve preferred if there was a band, or even better, magnets, to hold it shut. The affordable price helps make that facet easier to accept, and leads SmartStyle to earn a strong general recommendation.