Finding the Best iPad Case, Part 2: What to Look for in a Rugged Case
by Tablets for Artists
“Let’s switch to FaceTime!”
IPads are used in the military for everything from logistics to chatting with family back home. IPads get knocked about in deserts, jungles, and Jeeps, in extreme dust, in freezing and hot temperatures, and they see action like few back home ever see. Many iPad cases for sale are made to military-grade standards.
But civilians have bumpy lives too. They travel. Their kids treat iPads like bouncing balls. And face it, everyone is a klutz at least some of the time. A military-grade case can be the best iPad casefor active people.
Companies have responded to the challenges the active lives of iPad owners by making tank-like containers that seal in the device so it’s snug as a bug. Some of these are waterproof or water-resistant, dust-proof and drop-proof to a certain height, and some have hand or shoulder straps. Not all rugged cases have everything. Try to think of features you can and can’t live without.
Before purchasing a rugged iPad case, consider:
Weight. How much weight does it add?
Screen clarity. Does it come with a screen protector that lets you use the screen? Does the screen protector protect from spills? Is it removable? Is it sensitive to your touch, or do you have to press hard to get it to work? Try pressing the buttons. Try it with a stylus.
Is it waterproof?Water-resistant?
Does it have a wake/sleep mechanism? Most covers have magnets that do this.
Holding it. Does it have handy features such as a belt that you could attach to a hand, arm, or leg? Not everyone would use this, but if you’re out in the field, or a teacher giving a talk who uses the iPad to refer to notes, this feature can be useful. Or maybe it has a shoulder strap?
Grip. Does the grip slip?
Stand. Does it have astand? Does it work in several positions and the two modes, portrait and landccape? Many stands are landscape-only.
If it has a built-in screen protector, can you still use your own, at the same time? Or as a replacement?
Protection. How is the padding, screen protection, corner protection?
Cutouts. all ports, plugs, and cameras accessible? Does the case protect the ports?
Mic. Is the mic blocked?
Appropriateness for your iPad. Is the ambient light sensor and retina functions working with the case, if they are supposed to?
Materials. Most cases are made from materials such as silicone, hard polycarbonate, or TPU (a soft plastic), rubber, or siliconized rubber. Some say silicone, though more flexible, can attract dust because it picks up electrical charges. TPU is harder but easier to clean. Pure rubber is natural. None of these are better in quality than the others, it’s just personal preference. Many durable, rugged cases combine hard and soft materials.
Fit. Is it easy to install and remove the iPad?
Features. Is there something you really need–a keyboard? Would it need to be built-in, or could you use a separate one? If you’re an artist, maybe the best iPad case for you has a notepad and pen loop.
Safety and wear and tear. Does it have little pieces that could break off? This is particularly important if you have children, as it could be a safety issue.
Price. Some are fairly expensive, but there are some affordable ones that work almost as well. The best iPad case for your lifestyle isn’t always the most costly one. A lot goes into these cases and getting the details right. Sometimes some batches will not fit iPads as well as others. In that case, using a company with good customer service will matter, in the event of a problem.
Customer Service: Is the manufacturer reputable and responsive?
Check to make sure which iPad model you have and that your case is right for this model. There can be subtle differences in iPads even if they almost the same.
CLEAN your iPad screen before putting it into a screen protector.
By considering all these points, whether you decide you need a rugged case or not, you can find the perfect iPad case for your life.
Artists take note: an iPad case with notepad and pen holder is a big draw
by Tablets for Artists
Nothing’s worse than forgetting a great idea, and sometimes the iPad isn’t charged. Worse yet, you’re digging in your bag for your stylus. Now there’s reason for hope. There are high-quality and affordable iPad cases with notepads, pen holders, or both.
First of all, make sure the case will fit your iPad.
Here’s how to check your iPad model number: Look at the very small type on the back of your iPad for these numbers.
iPad 1: A1219 or A1337; iPad 2: A1395, A1396, or A1397; iPad 3: A1416, A1430, or A1403; iPad 4: A1458, A1459, or A1460; iPad Mini: A1432, A1454, or A1455; iPad Mini with Retina: A1490; iPad Air: A1474 or A1475
While most pen loops will fit most styluses, some of the thicker styluses may be too large.
iPad cases with notepad and pen holder:
Grifiti Dootle iPad Air Folio Case for Ipad Air
This is an attractive and versatile iPad case with notepad and pen holder being the main draws, so to speak. We also like that the iPad bezel is exposed; it just looks nicer. The corners and sides are protected by an imitation-leather cover. The case is reversible and ambidextrous; you can set it up for right-handed or left-handed use by switching the positions of the iPad and Dootle Pad (as the notepad is called). It’s compatible with the Apple Smart Cover.
It comes with a 6 x 9″ combo ruled and grid Dootle Pad notepad that’s basically graph paper. Your stylus or pen (would be nice to have two loops, huh) will perched in a pen loop on the outside of the case. The sturdy back cover is form-fitting and cutouts allow access to all ports as well as the camera. The case also has a cover pocket for business cards, cash, or notes. The iPad secures to the case via good old Velcro. You can put your Apple Smart Cover inside this case if you wish.
It has a large outer slip pocket on the back into which you can put the doodles you’ve drawn on the Dootle pad, or anything else you want to put there. Since it’s on the outside, it’s not meant for things like cash or credit cards, though.
Cons–a little heavy and bulky, which makes sense as it has a notepad.
Here’s the version for the iPad mini 1, 2, and 3. Like the larger version, it’s also Apple Smart Cover Compatible.
The Booqpad for iPad mini is similar to the iPad Air, but comes with both a stylus holder and notepad, making this a great choice for those who scrawl in multimedia (digital and paper). The cover also has clever pockets for business cards, tickets, cash, what have you–you can hide them away. Like its larger cousin, it’s ambidextrous. The notepad is made with 30% soy ink. The paper notepad is 4-1/8th x 7-1/4th inches. You can find paper refills here on the Booqpad site–the notepad that says mini.
Cons: no wake/sleep; cover does not fold into a stand; no camera hole; pen loop caused problems for some, loosening the back flap when it had the pen in it and some didn’t like the way the pens fit. Seems this case is nice-looking, and most users loved it but some had some issues with it.
Solo Vintage Collection Colombian Leather Padfolio for iPad 1, 2, 3, 4
This Colombian leather, high-end folio case fits iPads 1-4. It has an unusual ziparound (zipper) closure. It’s sleek and luxurious, but ready for business. Inside it (there’s only a small photo) are a 5 x 8″ paper notepad, and pockets for business cards and other items–a mini-organizer. The gold stitching forms a nice contrast with the case’s warm espresso color. There’s also a pen holder on the inside. This case isn’t form- fitting, so can hold iPads 1-4.
Cons: Lacks a back camera hole.
A little bulky to put in a handbag, but great to carry the iPad around by itself.
iPad case with Bluetooth keyboard and space for notepad and pen
Kensington KeyFolio Executive Zipper Folio Case with Bluetooth Keyboard for iPad 4 Retina, iPad 3, iPad 2
You might not think of yourself as an executive, but artists are the CEO of their own businesses and lives. This case has it all–space for a notepad and stylus (you’ll have to supply your own) as well as a Bluetooth keyboard, all neatly zipped up. Accepts notepads up to 7.5″ x 9″. Cover folds into a stand with viewing angles from 20 to 70 degrees. You can access all ports and cameras with this cool case. I could see Don Draper with one of these, if he’s still in the biz.
The stylish, versatile Booqpad iPad case with notepad combines an inner, hard, magnetically attached polycarbonate shell with an outer, suedelike folio. It works for both left- and right-handed users (you’re going to have to turn the magnetic case upside-down to switch the notepad to the right side). Ports and cameras remain accessible at all times. The 50-page notebook is included, as are a screen film and cleaning cloth. Unlike the mini version, this has no pen loop. When closed, the notepad gives the iPad added protection. The cover folds to offer two viewing angles and a typing angle. The case can take standard 6 x 9″ refill pads, though the notepad it comes with is slightly smaller. You can find notepad refills here on the Booqpad site.
Don’t need a notepad with your iPad case, but want to carry your stylus with you? Here are some top choices:
iPad Air 2 Case Cover by FYY
Constructed with PU synthetic leather and featuring a handy exterior pen loop to hold a stylus, this handsome case folds into a stand with slots that give three viewing angles, all landscape orientation. Most of the iPad’s bezel is covered. Anti-skid interior doesn’t slip. It sports pockets for credit or business cards, a smaller pocket for a storage card, a longer pocket for cash or travelers cheques, and a handy hand strap to hold it sturdy. Features a sleep/wake function. All ports and cameras are accessible via carefully aligned cutouts. Shuts with Velcro. Comes in 8 bright colors.
Cons: a little bulky, weighs more than some cases; PU leather doesn’t always stand up to a lot of wear and tear over long periods.
Lifetime guarantee! This folio-style smart cover from Snugg comes in many colors and two patterns, Blue Denim and Digital Camo. It covers the iPad’s bezel but allows access to all ports and cameras. It’s made of Nubuck, which is real leather that has been buffed to resemble suede, but it’s more costly than suede. The workmanship and materials on this are high end. The cover opens into a kickstand that gives you a couple of viewing angles, both landscape.
The hand strap is ideal for using your iPad while standing, whether reading, writing/drawing, or giving a presentation.
The pen loop will keep that stylus from getting lost. Sleep/wake function keeps your iPad well rested.
Cons: Taking photos requires holding the cover flap up because there’s no cutout for the camera on the back.
This cute folio-style iPad mini case comes in 20 groovy, bright colors and patterns with appeal for teens, tweens, and anyone who would love an iPad case with animal print. It has a neat pen loop for a stylus. The case is vegan (all the non-leather ones are) with a sleep-wake function. The cover folds back into a stand in landscape orientation. The inside has soft microfiber lining that won’t scratch your iPad. The sides get protected and the bezel mostly covered. It’s easy to put the iPad into this Fintie case; simply insert it and close the Velcro flap. Though the back is not a polycarbonate shell, it’s quite sturdy and protective.
Cons: a few people had problems with the sleep/wake, but the vast majority did not.
KAVAJ iPad Air 2 “London” cognac brown leather case cover
This luxurious case of of London Cognac brown leather lined with soft flannel has a sleep/wake feature and a fancy pen holder. The cover folds out into a stand that offers two landscape viewing positions, one of them quite upright. Best of all, it comes with a Kavaj ink pen that doubles as a stylus. There is a hidden Velcro strap that secures the iPad. A wide interior pocket allows you to stash things made of paper. The case allows some of the iPad bezel to be exposed, which is a nice design feature.
There are many iPad cases, most made by companies other than Apple. Ipad cases can be broken down into different types with different features for the varying lives led by iPad users. The types of cases are available for all models of iPad, including the iPad Air and iPad mini.
If you specifically want one with a notepad and/or pen holder, see our post here.
This extreme multitasker would need a drop-proof case.
Things to Consider
When deciding on the best iPad case for your needs, consider how you use the iPad. Do you use it a lot? If you do, consider higher quality materials that will last. Do you need a keyboard? Do you tend to drop things? In that case you would want good impact resistance, especially if you have uncarpeted floors. Do you use your iPad near food or drink? Do you want to stand the iPad up? Would you like the angles of the stand to be flexible? Would you want the stand to be only horizontal, or allow rotation to portrait mode as well? Do you want a carrying strap or handle? Some carrying straps can securely attach to your hand, arm, or even leg. Do you want to carry your stylus? Do you want a place to carry the charging cord and other accessories? Do you have or work with young children who drop-kick your iPad? Or do your children have iPads that they use regularly? Do you use it over carpeting? Do you use it out in the field? Would you want to use it underwater, for instance, to take photographs? How much of an issue is the weight of your Ipad case? What type of bag do you carry it in?
Do you travel a lot? Would you pack your Ipad into luggage or perhaps into a bag or briefcase that contains other things as well?
If you vary in your activities, you might find that one type of case is not enough. The good news is, there are now a lot of good, relatively cheap iPad cases. The more you know what features you want, the easier it is to narrow down the best iPad case for you.
Which model iPad do you have?
First of all, determine which iPad you have. While it might seem that most people would know, perhaps you got it as a gift, or have forgotten. Figure out which Ipad you have by squinting very hard at the tiny print on the lower back of your iPad. This chart will take us on a trip down Memory Lane through iPad history. Notice most iPads have a few different model numbers; this is because models with wifi and 3G, or GSM/CDMA/LTE models get different numbers.
When choosing an iPad case, be sure it’s right for your model number. Cases have customized cutouts to fit particular models, so be very sure–check your iPad model number, or ask the store where you purchase it for help. Though iPads can appear similar in size and design, subtle differences can make cases incompatible. For instance, models after the iPad 3rd generation have lightning connectors, not 30-pin ones. And, the micro-SIM tray is on the right side in the GSM model of the iPad2.
iPad Air. Year: Late 2013. Model nos. A1474, A1475, A1476
iPad mini 3. Year: late 2014. A1599, A1600
iPad mini 2. Year: late 2013. Model nos. A1489, A1490, A1491
iPad mini. Year: late 2012. Model nos. A1432, A1454, A1455
iPad (4th generation). Year: Late 2012. Model nos. A1458, A1459, A1460
iPad (3rd generation). Year: early 2012. Model nos. A1416, A1430, A1403 iPad 2. Year: 2011. A1395, A1396, A1397 iPad. Year: 2010. Model numbers A1219, A1337
Choosing and using an iPad case
Some cases say they are “one size fits all” for similar sizes of iPads and other brands of tablet. Unless these are pouches or bags, a one-size-fits-all solution is not the best case for your iPad. You want a snug, protective haven, and you want to be able to access the controls, speaker, dock connector, and cameras, which means having cutouts that fit perfectly and a form-fitting surrounding. If your case has cutouts, make sure the cutouts are cut so that those show through. Some cutout cases have flaps that can cover the cutouts for further protection. Many cases are lined with soft microfiber to keep the screen and body cozy and unscratched.
Also, when using a case, be sure your iPad is facing the right way and the cutouts are lining up. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to get it wrong with some cases.
Most of all, choose one that fits your lifestyle. A business user might want a sleek folio, and a hiker who likes to dive into a pond with an iPad to snap pictures don’t have the same needs. Often we wear many hats, and there are some combination cases that could both look stylish and give heavy protection. Tradeoffs might include weight or difficulty taking the iPad out of the case or putting it in (with these you can usually just leave the iPad in).
working on ipad that’s in a case that folds back to create a stand.
Types of iPad cases
There are many types of coverings: cover, folio, skin or shell, rugged and waterproof, sleeve, bag, carrier, and body and screen film. Choosing the best iPad case depends on your usage (see Things to Consider, above). You can have keyboard covers and combination covers. These types of cases exist for all models of iPad as well as Android tablets.
If you use the iPad out in the field, or you tend to drop things or have small children who like to use your fragile, expensive device as a football, you probably want a rugged iPad case. These are the most durable, protective cases, some of them waterproof or water-resistant.
A cover, such as the Apple iPad Smart Cover, attaches via magnet and covers only the screen. They are usually made of metal or polycarbonate, which is a hard, impact-resistant plastic. Some of these include keyboards.
Folio cases cover the whole iPad and open like books to show the screen. Often the covers fold to create a stand. Folios are often very stylish. They are often made of synthetic leather, real leather, or fabric. Sometimes they are hard polycarbonate. Some lack a cutout for the rear camera. Browse folio cases
Skins and shells usually cover just the back and sides while leaving the screen open. Usually shells are made of polycarbonate or thick plastic, and skins of silicone. Sometimes a shell also refers to a tanklike case that covers the whole iPad.
Combination covers can be both a shell and a folio, and a keyboard as well. Combo covers often combine metal and plastics so that the case is impact resistant where it needs to be but doesn’t scratch the iPad.
Keyboard covers can be folio or clamshell covers. They basically turn your iPad into a small laptop or netbook.
Rugged iPad covers are tanklike creations that cover the entire iPad, keeping it safe from drops, spills, dust, kids, and weather. These are good if you are out in the field. Often the cutouts have flaps that go over them. Some are waterproof or water-resistant. The Otterbox defender is considered one of the best iPad cases in the rugged category, though there’s plenty of competition. Some rugged cases are water-resistant or waterproof. Browse rugged cases
Waterproof cases sometimes are skins or shells that cover the back and leave the front open with a screen protector.
Sleeves are soft pouches that you simply put the iPad into. They envelope and protect the iPad, and you take the iPad out to use it. They are sometimes only large enough for the iPad, or sometimes are carrying packs that let you tote gear such as Bluetooth keyboard. Often you can use the sleeve for other tablets as well. Sleeves can be made of fabric, foam, leather, faux leather, or other materials. If you like to use the iPad without any added weight while you are using it, or you want a versatile case, a sleeve may be your best choice of iPad case. Browse sleeve cases
Bag cases are bags where you can carry the Ipad and other gear. They have pockets for the iPad and accessories, and are cushioned. You can often use these for other types of tablets too, or for general gear when not carrying the iPad.
Screen films are thin plastic screen protectors. They can be difficult to put on without leaving air bubbles. Some cases come with them as part of their structure. browse screen film
Body films are very thin, clear coatings cover the back and sides of your iPad. They sometimes come with screen films.
Kids’ iPad cases tend to be of bulky plastic and have bright colors and kiddie style. browse kids’ cases
If you just want to browse all iPad cases on Amazon, click here.
Below are our picks, just a sampling of the smorgasbord of quality, eye-pleasing, functional iPad cases.
Figure out which features combine into the best iPad case for you
As you can see, when it comes to iPad cases, just about everything under the sun exists. Many of these also exist in combination. When choosing the best iPad case, most shoot for a middle ground with a protective case that’s not necessarily military-grade protective, because that adds weight. Though some do need those extremely rugged cases. If looks are important, folio cases can provide protection and come in various materials.
Our reviews of the best iPad cases will always tell you their weight. Some iPad cases weigh more than the iPad itself. The iPad air, being thinnner lighter, has also allowed case designs to slim down.
Try to come up with a list of features you want. As an artist, you might want a hard shell to protect the iPad. You might want a removable screen protector as you might sometimes want to use the iPad without it to get full sensitivity (some screen films do affect visuals or sensitivity in small ways). You probably also want an inner or outer loop for your stylus or styluses.
If you narrow it down, it shouldn’t be overwhelming to find the best iPad case you could possibly want. Remember, if you’re like most people, you’re not going to “trade up” to a new iPad every year, so pick something that will last and that fits. end of The Best iPad Case, Part 1
Looking for the best iPad stylus for drawing? (Most of these work on Android tablets as well). Many artists enjoy drawing and painting on their iPads. An accurate iPad stylus is great for note-taking as well. An iPad is a valuable digital sketchbook, and styluses and art apps have made fast progress in expanding the iPad’s art capabilities. While tablet PCs, Cintiqs and similar art tablets are still the usual choice for professional artists, and you can now do sophisticated art on the iPad.
Yes, you can get pressure sensitivity
Some iPad styluses use Bluetooth to get 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity, as much as any art tablet does. These styluses only achieve the pressure sensitivity in that are designed to provide it. There are art apps for Android that get pressure sensitivity as well.
Here’s a handy comparison chart that will help you shop for the best iPad stylus for drawing.
Our Rating/Check price on Amazon
Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint
Bluetooth; 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity; shortcut buttons; diskless, precision tip; connects to Adobe Creative Cloud; works with many apps
palm rejection; eraser; blends; best with Paper app; wood or metal; rechargeable; magnet snaps to Apple Smartpad case; Bluetooth; surface pressure (change marks according to how you hold the tip). For writing, try Noteshelf app
Although Steve Jobs famously said, “If there’s a stylus, they blew it,” plenty of people choose to use them with their iPads. In 2011, Apple filed for a patent for an active stylus. UPDATE: We now of course have the Apple Pencil and iPad Pro. The Apple Pencil is made only for the iPad Pro. Lots of people are still using regular iPads, and the styluses below will work on any iPad.
Write and draw on Android as well
If you can draw and write using a stylus on the iPad, you can use it on other capacitive touchscreens too, such as the iPhone, nearly any smartphone, computer touchscreens, Android tablets, and Kindle Fire. The best Android styluses for drawing are pretty much the same list, but those that works with apps are OS-specific.
Pencil by Fifty-Three only gets pressure via the iPad Paper app, so won’t work with Android, but you can use it without pressure. However, Microsoft worked with Fifty-three to create a Windows Paper app, so you can use it with Windows.
Adonit and DotPen have apps for iOS and Android.
What to look for in a stylus:
Pressure sensitivity. This feature is only possible via Bluetooth with specific apps, and only some iPad styluses offer it. It means you can vary the width of the line, just as if you were drawing with a real pencil, pen, or brush. The sensitivity should work as a smooth curve, not suddenly changing line width.
Apps are what make variations in pressure possible on an iPad or iPhone. Otherwise you will get a same-width line. Most artists prefer a varied line, but it depends on your own art style. Examples of iPad styluses with pressure sensitivity are the Adonit Jot Touch with Pixelpoint and Pencil by FiftyThree.
Palm rejection. The things to look for in choosing the best stylus for iPad for drawing are accuracy, responsiveness, ease of use, and reliability. You also want palm rejection. Without palm rejection, the iPad cannot distinguish between your hand and the stylus, since you can finger paint on the IPad.
If your stylus doesn’t have palm rejection, you have to do a Michael Jackson move and wear a glove with cut-off fingers on one hand. And even with that, it may not be enough. The best is not to touch the screen at all with your hand. Still, some of the most popular IPad styluses for drawing do not feature palm rejection. Artists are a resourceful lot and work around this problem.
Pencil by FiftyThree, Walnut
Rechargeable. Also desirable is having a rechargeable stylus. While some of the best styluses for iPad lack rechargeable batteries, this becomes an added expense, and creates waste, not to mention your stylus may suddenly stop working when you’ve forgotten to tote an extra battery. But, some of the best iPad styluses for drawing use nonrechargeable batteries. You can always buy a separate rechargeable battery and a battery charger.
Nibs that last a long time or do not cost a lot to replace. Some tips or nibs wear out quickly with use, so you should check into ease and cost of replacement before choosing your iPad stylus.
Compatibility with your favorite apps. The quality of compatibility of styluses with apps can vary quite a bit, so try out different apps with different styluses. You can’t pick the best iPad stylus for drawing without taking what apps you want to use into consideration.
Other things you may want to consider:
Noise. Some styluses make a clack-clack sound. Are you noise-sensitive? Will you be using your stylus in classes and meetings, to take notes or sketch? The model of the Adonit Jot Pro (without pressure sensitivity) has a plastic disk on the end that clacks on the screen, but they added a “dampener” to soften the sound.
Traction and glide. Make sure you are happy with the relative slipperiness of your stylus across the iPad glass. A screen protector can add traction with some apps; others, such as Paper, advise against using one. Your drawings can be affected; some people prefer a lot of glide for long lines, others don’t. Some users have mentioned in reviews that though they thought they were getting the best iPad stylus for drawing, but slipperiness was a big enough issue that they ended up returning the stylus.
Looks. Do you get inspired by a sleek, or maybe a funky art implement? While I wouldn’t pick by looks, if all else is equal you might want to make a fashion statement.
Comfort. Very important, especially if you draw for hours on end. Does the stylus feel good in your hand? Are there certain angles you need to hold it at to get it to work best? Is it lightweight, or heavy? Is the length of the stylus comfortable to you? What about the thickness?
Grip. Does it have a good grip in your hand, or does it slip?
Writing. Everyone has to write sometimes, and sometimes a stylus that’s good for drawing is also good for writing, but that’s not always the case. It’s often app-dependent. You might have trouble writing in some art apps but do fine writing in note-taking apps.
The best iPad stylus for drawing is not always the best iPad stylus for writing. For writing, you want a fine-tipped stylus such as the Adonit Jot Pro. The Apple Pencil is excellent for notetaking. However, the Sensu paint stylus obviously is not. The Bamboo one is OK but it’s not my favorite for writing due to the tip size being fairly large. That doesn’t affect the line size, but it just feels a little more difficult.
Painting. Some styluses are actually like paintbrushes. While you can do digital painting with any stylus, if you want a painterly look you might want one of these brush styluses in your toolbox. These are not that expensive and you can get beautiful effects with them. The Sensu brush and tablet stylus gives you both a brush and stylus, and we recommend this painting and drawing tool as a good addition in your search for the best iPad stylus for digital artmaking.