While Apple’s iPad Smart Covers are radically overpriced, there’s no doubt that the company sold plenty of them absent competition when the iPad 2 first hit store shelves. Many companies are readying their own — and generally more protective — alternatives to the Smart Cover, and some are offering complementary solutions like this: Simplism’s Smart Back Cover for iPad 2 ($25). Rather than protecting the front of the iPad 2, Smart Back Cover assumes that you’ve already bought one of Apple’s lids, and leaves a big gap on the left side of the tablet so that you can attach and detach the Smart Cover at will. Simplism offers the case in a glossy but scratchable clear, opaque white, and opaque black.
At first glance, Smart Back Cover is very similar to Incipio’s Feather, XtremeMac’s Microshield, or other snap-on plastic shells we’ve reviewed. It’s nice and thin, attaching snugly to the back of the iPad 2 and covering the front aluminum edge. The bottom side of the iPad 2 is well protected, with a clean-looking scoop to expose the Dock Connector and a 4×13 grille of squares over the speaker that keeps the metal protected without affecting the sound coming out of it.
Along the right, only the side switch and volume rocker are exposed, and the plastic of the case is thin enough that there is no difficulty in using them. Unfortunately, the top edge is like that of some other shells we’ve tested in that it is completely open from the Sleep/Wake button to past the headphone port, leaving more of the iPad 2 exposed than is ideal. Thankfully, the opening for the rear camera is nicely centered and properly sized. Finally, there’s the aforementioned opening on the left side that accommodates the Smart Cover, which attaches with no issues when the Smart Back Cover is attached. Once in place all of the Smart Cover’s features remain fully usable; it flips open, back, and doubles over itself as a stand without a problem.
Smart Back Cover is made well enough to hold its own as a shell, with a precise fit and at least a little bit more body coverage than some of the shells we’ve seen. The overly large opening along the top is still a downside, though, and the value for the dollar is still sort of dicey: under most circumstances, we wouldn’t recommend going out and buying a Smart Cover simply to use with this case, but for those who already have made the investment, this is a reasonable way to finish protecting most of the rest of the iPad. It’s worthy of our general recommendation.
Company and Price
Model: Smart Back Cover
Compatible: iPad 2