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.
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