Speck’s SmartShell for iPad mini ($35) is heavily based on the case of the same name we’ve reviewed for the full-sized iPad. The price remains the same — rare in these early days of iPad mini cases — but otherwise, it doesn’t offer a lot of surprises. Like its predecessor, SmartShell is a straightforward hard plastic rear shell with Smart Cover compatibility, and only one real standout feature.
The slim case comes in either clear or transparent smoke black, both of which have glossy finishes; scratches show up pretty quickly. Although it doesn’t provide button coverage, SmartShell does extend all the way to the four edges of the iPad mini, with cutouts for the controls and ports, plus a divot in the center of the right edge, making it easy to lift the lid. The case easily snaps on and off as needed. Its only real distinguishing factor is the magnetic strip along the left edge, which holds the iPad mini Smart Cover in place when it’s folded underneath. This it does well, especially since the magnet has been elongated from the previous iteration.
While that magnet is a nice feature, it certainly doesn’t justify a $15 price premium over SwitchEasy’s CoverBuddy, the best iPad mini shell on the market. SmartShell is less protective and comes in fewer color selections; it earns our limited recommendation. If, and only if, the magnet is a big draw, choose Speck’s shell. Otherwise, go with CoverBuddy and save yourself almost half the cost.
Company and Price
Company: Speck Products
Compatible: iPad mini