With so many sleeves appearing for tablets, developers now have to incorporate extra features and thoughtful designs in order to stand out from the crowd. FrappeDesign’s latest creation Smart Sleeve ($65-69) does just that. Available in different high quality leathers — with more premium variations costing up to $119 — this one uses a tall, portrait orientation rather than the more common landscape. It’s a nice design, and interesting in that it’s one of very few to include multiple black versions that differ purely in texture.
When closed, the top flap is secured in place using a manila envelope-style leather string closure. Inside you’ll find a compartment for the tablet, embedded with magnets to activate the automatic sleep/wake feature when it slides in and out. We really like how well this feature works; it’s completely smooth and very reliable. There are four business card slots and a longer opening the company says is for use as a passport pocket on top of where the tablet sits.
By curling the front cover in on itself, Smart Sleeve can also serve as a stand for the iPad 2, either for typing or video, depending on where you place the tablet. We found that the leather cover really needed to be broken in before it would stay; flaps then hold the corners of the cover in place. For the typing angle, the bottom of the tablet can slide under the lower button and rest against the curled cover, while viewing requires tucking the iPad 2 into the tab on the front half of the pocket. Both modes require you to play around a little bit until the fit is just right.
Smart Sleeve is one of the more attractive and practical sleeves we’ve seen, though the word “sleeve” should be underscored there: very few sleeves are practical for purposes other than holding an iPad when it’s not in use. FrappeDesign’s version offers plenty of protection when closed, and then continues to be useful when the iPad 2 is taken out. We also like the classic design of the enclosure, which is different from most of what we see these days, and the truly nice material. Only the price is a major issue: even the basic $65 version is pushing the boundary of what users will consider reasonable for a sleeve. However, the quality here justifies a general recommendation and B rating. If Smart Sleeve falls in your price range and you’re a fan of leather cases, you’ll enjoy the functionality and design.
Company and Price
Models: Smart Sleeve
Compatible: iPad 2