“Wait a minute,” we said when this arrived, “haven’t we seen Uncommon’s Deflector before?” Well, not exactly: the prior version was for the iPad 2, and now there’s a different model for the third-generation iPad. Best known for its customizable, photo-printed cases, Uncommon has made some significant changes to Deflector while preserving the same $60 price.
Oddly, the new shell takes steps back from its predecessor in protection. It now offers less coverage for the iPad’s buttons, as well as its top and bottom edges. Whereas the previous version only left a thin line of aluminum exposed along the short ends, this one leaves about 3/8” unprotected on each side. Naturally, you have full access to the headphone port, microphone, Sleep/Wake button and Dock Connector port, while the speaker is quite strangely segmented with a line of plastic running horizontally through its center. Gone is the volume button protection seen on the last model, while an opening has been added to accommodate Apple’s iPad Smart Cover on the left side, a change that may be appreciated by some while viewed as a problem for others who don’t use the lid.
Deflector for iPad 2 offered full bleed printing, meaning your chosen design went all the way to the edge of the plastic. By comparison, this new Deflector has a black border running around the outside and jutting in around the camera and speaker. The quality of the printing is quite good—truly very close to the source material. We noticed some of the source image’s finest detail was lost and the image wasn’t quite as bright as the original, but it’s quite sharp where it was supposed to be, with otherwise good color reproduction.
Taken as a whole, Deflector represents a step back from its predecessor in protection, and we’re disappointed that an otherwise beautiful-looking shell moved in that direction. It’s not often that we see a newer version offer less protection than the one before it, as developers typically use successive generations to improve upon features they introduced before. On the other hand, the photo printing is just as impressive as before, if not more so, and Uncommon’s products remain the best-looking customizable cases we’ve seen for Apple’s devices. It’s a shame that users need to give up even more device coverage than before to enjoy the customization options, while paying the same relatively high price. As such, Deflector for the third-generation iPad earns a limited recommendation, a step down from the B rating of its predecessor. We really hope to see Uncommon iterate upon its designs with more protective options in the near future.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPad (3rd-Gen)