We’re fans of the protection and functionality offered by combining Apple’s Smart Cover and a slim rear shell such as SwitchEasy’s CoverBuddy, but the price of doing so is too high: generally a minimum of $60, mostly due to Apple’s overpriced lid. Available in white, black, blue, or pink, X-Doria’s SmartJacket for iPad mini ($35) combines the same functionality with some unique design elements of its own, while being offered at a price lower than the Smart Cover. A few small things are missing relative to a two-piece solution, but we’re very impressed with the case overall.
Most plastic shells that we test, whether they have a glossy or matte finish, are flat. SmartJacket’s back instead has a 12 by 18 grid of shiny raised squares that looks and feels pretty cool, adding some flair without extra bulk. It’s not the absolute best shell in terms of coverage, since it’s lacking button and speaker protection, but it’s pretty good. Port openings are large enough to accommodate any accessories, and the buttons are easily accessible. We do wish the shell extended just a bit further over the iPads’s chamfered edge, though.
The front lid is comparatively plain, and made of material closely resembling the polyurethane Apple uses on its covers. Rather than the columns being strongly reinforced with strips of metal, X-Doria uses a flimsier material that feels like poster board. We noticed some slight curling around both the top and bottom corners on the right side, but were otherwise satisfied with the quality. Like the Smart Cover, this lid can be folded into a triangle and used as a stand for viewing or typing. It relies on the weight of the iPad mini to hold its position, rather than magnets, which isn’t a problem if you set it up properly. While there are in fact magnets inside, they’re only used to lock and unlock the tablet’s display, as well as to hold the lid closed without the need for a tab.
For its $35 price tag, SmartJacket is a truly great value—it’s one of the most aggressively-priced folio and stand cases we’ve seen for the iPad mini. The case is adequately protective, looks nice with a unique design touch, and is fully functional as well. It does fall short in a few areas, but none are enough to detract too much from the overall package, particularly for the price. We highly recommend it as a smart option with broad appeal.
Company and Price
Compatible: iPad mini