The iPad Air, reviewed, is Apple’s best iPad yet. It’s much lighter than the old design, and thinner too. If you want to protect your investment, we’ve rounded up a great selection of cases and covers that will keep your tablet safe from knocks and scratches.
For those that aren’t too bothered about a few scratches, but want the lightest possible protection, there are also covers including Apple’s Smart Cover that only cover the screen.
Apple Smart Case for iPad Air
There’s a lot to be said for buying the official iPad Air case. It fits perfectly, and has precision cutouts for the speaker, camera, rear microphone and headphone socket.
Unlike most cases, it completely covers the iPad when it’s closed. There are no large gaps for the speakers or top edge, and the front cover is held closed by magnets. These also serve to turn the Air on and off when you open and close it.
Best of all, the case is very lightweight and adds minimal bulk to the iPad Air.
The only downside is the price, which is a faintly ridiculous £65. Apple says it’s made from leather, but the entire case is so rigid and odourless, you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for the fake PU leather used on other cases. Plus, the Smart Case doesn’t need to be leather. We’d have preferred a plastic version which cost half as much.
Our other grip is that the front cover is made from only three panels, instead of four (as with previous Smart Covers). This means none of the panels overlap when folded into a triangle, so it’s nowhere near as sturdy for using as a stand.
However, it still gets our vote for all-round protection while keeping the weight and bulk down.
Apple Smart Cover for iPad Air
£35 inc VAT
We’ve never been fans of the Smart Cover. The latest version for the iPad Air suffers the same problem as the Smart Case: only three panels.
You’d be unwise to rely on it to hold your Air steady when using FaceTime or watching videos, and since it covers only the screen, there’s no protection for the aluminium back.
Given that is isn’t made from leather, it’s again expensive at £35.
Maroo Kope PU leather Smart Case for iPad Air
Hard to find, and not the same as the real leather Kope case, this slimmer PU leather version is much like Apple’s own Smart Case. The rear is a plastic shell into which the iPad clips, and the whole case is covered in faux leather which looks just as convincing as Apple’s.
The four-panel front cover works like the old Apple Smart Cover and is sturdier whether stood upright or at a typing angle.
It would even better if it didn’t have an overly large cutout at the bottom, leaving the Air’s speakers and Lightning port exposed. Still, it does mean you’ll have no trouble plugging in any Lightning adaptors: Apple’s stubby 30-pin to Lightning Adaptor is much wider than most case openings allow for.
Everything Tablet 360 Rotating Case for iPad Air
If you need to be able to stand your iPad in both landscape and portrait orientations, Everything Tablet’s case should appeal. The faux-carbon fibre effect looks modern and stylish, and there’s a choice of black or red.
An elastic strap holds the cover shut and, as you’d expect, magnets turn the iPad on and off automatically.
Our only complaint is that the top and bottom edges of the tablet are exposed and could be damaged in a drop, but protection is pretty good overall, and the case works well as a stand.
Bukcase Cote for iPad Air
This sleeve is ideal for anyone wanting something a bit different. It’s handmade from a single piece of thick leather, folded to create two separate pockets. One is for your iPad Air, which slips in and out easily, and the other for documents and maybe a Lightning cable.
If you don’t want the tan shown here, a dark wenge colour is also available with white stitching.
As ever, we have to point out that the case doesn’t offer all-round protection: the top corner of your iPad is exposed and could be scratched by other items in your bag. We’d hate to think what would happen if you accidentally dropped your iPad on that exposed corner. However, if you’re careful, this is one stylish (and great-smelling) iPad Air sleeve, and not bad value even at this price.
Proporta iPad Air Cover - Leather Style
Like Everything Tablet’s case, Proporta's Leather Style iPad Air Cover comes in black or red. As the name implies, it’s made from faux leather.
There are cutouts for all ports and buttons, plus the rear camera (but not the rear mic), and the Cover doubles as an adjustable stand with two viewing angles.
It isn’t quite as versatile as the 360 Rotating Case and doesn’t have the elastic strap to hold it shut, but it offers pretty good all-round protection. Really, it’s down to your preference on style and whether you think the Proporta is worth the extra fiver.
Cygnett Paradox for iPad Air
Cygnett's new Paradox iPad Air case has an Origami-like folding cover that becomes a stand for holding the tablet in portrait or landscape angles. There are three versions to choose between.
The ‘Sleek’ has a smooth, rubbery cover and comes in black, pink, yellow or light grey. It’s the cheapest at £30.
Next is the £35 Texture, which has a soft-feel finish and which Cygnett says “minics cracked granite”.
Finally, there’s the purple or red Lux, which has a shinier, more stylish finish, although it costs more at £50. However, unlike the other two, it fully covers the sides of your iPad including the speakers at the base.
Snugg iPad Air case
Available in a whopping 14 colours, there’s sure to be one you like in Snugg’s iPad Air range. If you’ve seen or owned a Snugg case for a different tablet, the iPad Air version will be familiar.
Your iPad slots into the case sideways and is held tightly in place by a frame which partly covers the screen bezel. Whether or not you like this kind of design, it does offer great protection for your iPad Air, even if it isn’t the slimmest or lightest case in this roundup.
At this price, you’re not getting leather of course, but the finish and build quality is good. The folding front cover clips into a tab on the back to form a decent stand for typing or watching videos (or using FaceTime).
There’s also an elastic strap which fits flush into the front cover. It’s intended to help you hold you iPad one-handed and it works as long as it’s fairly flat. Try and hold it vertically and the cover will fold and leave the iPad dangling. We prefer Maroo’s design which has extra elastic straps which pop over the corners of the case when it’s open, holding it together.
There are cutouts for everything including the rear microphone and only the mute switch is a little tricky to access. Magnets turn the iPad on and off automatically.