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Buying an iPad is a predictably expensive decision, and once you’ve paid for your tablet, you’ll realize you’re not done: what about an iPad cases? Your new tablet will need protection from the drops and bumps and scratches that can occur during day-to-day use.
Apple sells the Smart Case, which fits perfectly and works with the iPad’s magnetic clip, turning the screen on and off when the cover is replaced or removed. But this official case costs $49 and offers only basic protection, which makes a bit overpriced.
You can end up with much better value for money if you buy one of these eight alternatives.
Ctech 360 (Under $10)
The Ctech 360 is a simple case for the iPad 2 and 3 which is sold for under $10 on Amazon. Though it’s inexpensive, it does have one feature that stands out: a rotating hinge that holds the tablet in either landscape or portrait mode. This, combined with a variety of attractive, exteriors, makes the Ctech 360 a nice choice for people who want a simple iPad case with built-in stand.
Don’t buy this one for protection, though. While it offers some padding and users say it holds up well, the Ctech is not designed with durability in mind.
FitFolio For iPad ($40)
Speck’s FitFolio is the perfect case for users who see their iPad as a fashion accessory. The case comes in twenty-two (yes, 22!) different designs, most of which are not a solid color but instead a design, such as plaid or pin-stripe. The case features a built-in stand that allows for multiple viewing angles, just like Apple’s Smart Case.
The FitFolio doesn’t offer any particular durability features, which some might think a serious flaw given the $39.95 price tag – this case clearly puts style over substance.
Lifeproof Nuud ($130)
On the other end of the spectrum we have the LifeProof Nuud. Like the company’s iPhone case, the Nuud is designed to keep your iPad safe from water, dust, snow and gravity. The iPad case is sealed to IP-68 standards, which means it can handle full submersion in water up to two meters deep, and drops up to 1.2 meters should prove no problem. A stand is available as well.
While durable, the Nuud isn’t much to look at and is priced at $129.99, which puts it out of reach of many buyers.
MoKo Slim-Fit ($20)
The MoKo Slim-Fit Folio is a small leather case that comes with a built-in stand and handle. This makes your iPad easier to handle, particularly for people with small hands, who may find the 10-inch tablet a bit unwieldy.
While useful, the Slim-Fit’s focus on size translates to thin leather and minimal protection. The competitive $19.99 price tag helps make up for this flaw.
Speck Handyshell ($55)
If you’re looking for a case with a handle, but would like something a bit sturdier than the MoKo, consider Speck’s HandyShell. This hard plastic case includes a simple swing-out handle that can be positioned at multiple angles, which lets it double as a stand.
As usual, protection comes at a price, as the HandyShell retails for $54.95. And while the case looks great, there’s not much variety; just three colors are available.
Logitech Keyboard Folio ($100)
While the iPad supports external keyboards, Apple itself does not sell one. Predictably, third-party companies have stepped in with a variety of alternatives. One of the most complete is Logitech’s Keyboard Folio, which both adds protection and productivity to your iPad.
Logitech sells the folio in four different colors and the case can also serve as a stand in one of two different positions. The price tag of $99.99 is intimidating, but it’s in line with products of similar quality from competitors like Zagg.
Otterbox Defender ($90)
The Otterbox brand has become synonymous with attractive, durable products. Defender for iPad lives up to this reputation by providing protection from dust, drops and bumps with a hard outer layer and soft, impact-absorbent internal layer. The only thing Defender can’t handle is water (that’s what the Lifeproof Nuud is for).
While built primarily for protection, the Defender also includes a multi-position stand that works in both portrait and landscape orientation. The MSRP is $89.95, but the case usually sells for $60 or less on Amazon.com.
Griffin Survivor ($40)
Another big name in iPad cases, Griffin has always been among Otterbox’s biggest rivals, and the Survivor is perhaps the Defender’s greatest rival. It takes a very similar approach, combining a hard outer shell with a soft interior that can absorb shock and vibration. The Survivor is rated against bumps and dust, but not against water.
So why buy the Survivor instead? Price; this case sells for less than $35 on Amazon. Paying the lower price requires that you sacrifice the stand, however, which may be too much for some users to give up.
With these iPad cases on the market, I have to wonder; who needs the Smart Case? Yes, Apple’s own case does look nice, but does it look better than a Speck FitFolio? I don’t think so – and it certainly can’t match the durability of a Lifeproof Nuud or Defender. What do you think? Is there any reason to even consider Apple’s own case? What do you have protecting your iPad? Let us know in the comments, below.