Review: First round of iPad mini cases/covers has arrived

OK, so far I have received several cases/covers for the iPad mini, and a couple show why third-party case manufacturers need to be careful not to rush products to market too early.

Apple SmartCover for iPad miniThe first to arrive actuall got to me before the mini did.  Apple's SmartCover for iPad mini is much like the SmartCover for the original iPad.  Attached by magnets along the left hand side of the iPad, it lays across the face of the iPad protecting the screen.  Lined with micro-fiber cloth, it also can be removed and folded to be used as a screen cleaner.  It protects the glass but leaves the sides and back uncovered, and provides no real protection in case of a fall.  It is better than nothing, and holds in place fairly well over the screen to protect the glass while it is in a bag or pocket, but provides little protection.

Ionic 2-Tone leather caseThe next case to come in was the Ionic 2-Tone Designer Leather Case Cover.  This case looks great, and is well constructed.  The stiching is well done, and special attention to design was used to provide a magnetic flap to secure the iPad instead of the typical velcro or friction flaps used in most other cases.  The problem is that Ionic rushed this case out without having design specs from Apple for screen size and more importantly, the size of the bezel around the screen.  Apple changed the way it did bezels with the mini, and rather than being equal widths on all four sides, the long sides of the bezel are narrower.  This brings us to the problem with Ionic's case.  More than 1/4 inch of screen is obstructed on each of the long sides.  As you can see, the case covers a significant portion of the screen along both edgesThis was done because prior to the announcement of the iPad mini, no one could have expected that for the first time the bezel would be narrowed along those edges.  Ionic's designers couldn't take that into account, and so they are shipping a case that is not at all funtional for this device.

The last case to arrive is the iTronz Black High Quality PU Leather Smart iPad Mini case folio.  My favorite of the three I've recieved so far, but again it was obviously rushed into production.  Unlike the ionic above it was designed after the announcement, as evidenced by the proper placement of the side cut around the screen.  The design is pretty common, it fits the device well and provides fair ammounts of protection.  The issue comes from the placement of magnets in the front flap.  They are intended to activate a magnetic switch in the ipad to enable the unlocking of the device.  The magnets are not aligned properly for the switch, so you still have to manually turn the ipad on.  Not a big deal, but not as convinient as it was intended to be.

The bottom line is this folks.  By christmas there will be a lot of cases from well known manufacturers that work exactly the way you expect them to.  While the proces may be cheaper on these no-name imports, sometimes you get what you paid for.