SofProduct’s SofShell for iPad 2 ($50) is a bit different from many of the Smart Cover-compatible cases we’ve seen over the past few months, in both materials and pricing. Instead of a hard plastic shell, it’s made of a tacky rubber that’s designed to stay put on surfaces even at a deep angle, as shown by the first picture in the set; the company has claimed that it can stay on a surface angled up to 70°, and it’s also supposed to be more shock-absorbent than other rubber or plastic cases. Some people will really like how well the case stays in place, especially if they’re using it in unusual places that don’t have standard flat surfaces. However, others won’t be able to stand the way the case feels, and that tackiness attracts dust and hair very quickly, which in turn makes it lose some of its stickiness. You can certainly feel the change after just a few days of use.
On a positive note, protective coverage is good, as there are precisely cut holes for the headphone port, microphone, camera, side switch, and Dock Connector port, a grid over the speaker, and rubber over the buttons. Instead of one long opening along the left edge for the Smart Cover’s spine, there are two small ones at either end, and the lid’s spine is held in place by an extended portion of the rubber. SofShell extends just over the aluminum edge, creating a lip that keeps the display raised off of flat surfaces; a small divot on the right side makes it easier to lift the Smart Cover off the screen. Versions of the case are also available without Smart Cover-compatibility, and for the original iPad.
While we generally wouldn’t trust any passive-gripping material to stay in place on a moving vehicle as SofProducts advertises, we did test it inside a car. Placed flat on the dashboard, the encased iPad 2 did not move around at all—results will of course vary based on angle and case dirtiness—so users who need this kind of stability may find SofShell to be a good option. The real issues here are in practicality and pricing. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether the benefit of passive rear stickiness is worth dealing with the case’s tendency to attract grime that you might not want to carry around on its back. Additionally, the most expensive Smart Cover-compatible shell we’ve seen up until now has been United SGP’s leather Griff, ranging from $50-$53. As we stated in our review of that case, using a $50 case with a Smart Cover entails a minimum expenditure of $90, an extremely high cost for any protective solution—with Griff, at least you get something made with leather. If the rubbery SofShell were in the $30-$35 range, we would feel comfortable offering a limited recommendation. At the price, however, we simply don’t see it as worth the cost, and some people will really dislike the feel and stickiness of the design. Overall, it’s only an okay option for the price.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPad 2