Review: ZeroChroma Folio-Slide for iPad mini
Back in January, ZeroChroma showed off two amazing and seemingly finished iPad cases with integrated stands — Folio-Slide for iPad mini ($70) and Folio-Slide for iPad Air, the former originally scheduled for release in February. But as surprising as this may be, neither version was actually released until recently; the iPad Air version shipped at the end of August 2014, and the iPad mini version is about to hit stores this month. Late as they are, these cases are still top picks, and best-of-breed case/stand designs. Since they're virtually identical to one another, our iPad mini case review is based heavily on our prior iPad Air case review.
Folio-Slide builds upon the VarioSC case-slash-stand we previously loved for iPad minis and iPad Airs. Using a combination of soft TPU and hard plastic, the matte black VarioSC covered almost all of those iPads, adding an incredible flip-out rear stand to their backs. While only modestly thickening the devices, and adding very little weight, ZeroChroma enabled each iPad to stand upright on your choice of reclining angles, supporting a wide variety of video, typing, landscape, and portrait orientations. VarioSC had only a couple of obvious issues: it lacked button coverage, and had an unnecessarily open left edge for attachment of Apple’s iPad Smart Cover, both reducing the case’s protectiveness. Additionally, we found that the otherwise superb rear stand could also develop small cracks after extended use, an issue addressable if necessary by a warranty replacement.
Folio-Slide for iPad mini eliminates one of VarioSC’s issues. While it covers the iPad mini’s entire back, top, and bottom apart from nicely-sized holes for ports, speakers, mics, and the rear camera, it still omits side and top button coverage, which on the iPad Air version was tactile and responsive. However, the matte black case’s once-open left side is now completely covered, leaving only the iPad’s glass face unprotected — no issue for the millions of people who prefer immediate access at all times to the display. Folio-Slide can be used as a nearly perfect playthough-style case, and we absolutely love the versatility that the integrated stand offers. ZeroChroma also appears to have improved the stand’s plastic to reduce crack potential, but we’ll need to test the final version for months before we can be absolutely certain about its resilience.
If ZeroChroma had released the base case with nothing else for VarioSC’s $50 asking price, Folio-Slide would most likely have received a flat A rating. But the company went further, assuming that all users will want the option of screen coverage. To that end, Folio-Slide includes a detachable lid in your choice of five colors: black, gray, teal, red, or purple. Explaining the case’s name, the lid slides easily in or out of a groove in Folio-Slide’s left side, adding very little thickness with the option of flip-open protection. Folio fans will really like the lid; playthrough case lovers will toss it in a drawer and forget it, assuming that they’re willing to pay a $20 premium over VarioSC in the first place.
Unlike more plasticky versions ZeroChroma demonstrated in January, the final lid’s front is made from a waterproof canvas material, while the back side is microfiber, a combination that works well enough even if neither fabric perfectly matches the TPU case. A small magnet inside locks and unlocks the iPad’s screen, but doesn’t hold the lid firmly shut when the case is flipped upside down. We’d call it a fine lid for people who prefer folio-style designs, but the plastic case and integrated stand are really the stars of the show here.
Although the lack of button protection makes it a hint less impressive than the iPad Air version, Folio-Slide is still the best iPad mini case we’ve ever seen; its $70 price tag and packed-in lid are the only other factors that may reduce its appeal to some users. If you’re looking for the best combination of protection and stand functionality around, and are willing to spend $70 to accessorize your iPad mini, Folio-Slide should be at the top of your shopping list. A less expensive version with equivalent side protection but without the lid would be very welcome.