Since we first saw the almost indiscernibly thicker third-generation iPad shell at the 2012 CES, there’s been one question on our minds: will iPad 2 cases fit? Although 0.6 millimeters doesn’t seem like—and truly isn’t—a big difference, the precise tolerances that many case makers work with have potential to cause issues. We’ve had a chance to test a number of different styles of cases, and here our are general findings.

Sleeves and Soft-Framed Folios

These cases are the most forgiving, and easily accept both the iPad 2 and the new iPad. Generally this imprecision isn’t a factor we’re quick to promote, but it is nice to have the wiggle room to use older models you may have lying around with your new device. There is one caveat: Apple seems to have repositioned the magnets used to automatically lock and unlock the new iPad. Even if the case in question supports this feature on the iPad 2, it may not work as well or at all on the third-generation tablet. 

Hard Molded Shells

Because of their contoured shape, we were more skeptical about how well plastic, hard leather, and other molded shells would fit the new iPad. Surprisingly, many of them do fit well, although tightly. While all of the models we tried held the device, many felt strained and we weren’t totally comfortable with how much more effort it took to snap it in place in some of them. We feared scratch damage to the iPad’s aluminum back, or to the case itself. While it may be OK to use your old iPad 2 case, we wouldn’t recommend buying one if you can help it: wait until the company releases an updated version. The same magnetic lid issue is as true with these cases as those mentioned above. These cases also usually have tighter camera holes, which may present an issue with the larger lens on the new iPad. 

Takeaways

From what we’ve seen, most cases will indeed work with either of the similarly shaped iPads, but it’s by no means a certainty. Simply put, not every iPad 2 case will fit or work properly with the third-generation iPad. Each case is different, so we recommend checking with the company if it doesn’t explicitly state compatibility. We’re already starting to see many manufacturers advertising that their cases fit both the iPad 2 and the new iPad, and expect that to be pretty common.