It's one of the most popular tablets ever made, but the iPad Mini 2 Retina demands some serious protection. As the perfect device to use while on your travels – unlike the iPad Air, which is most often seen on couches and coffee tables – the iPad Mini is a portable device, forever being taken out of bags where scrapes can and will happen.
It's tempting to look for a case that has a pocket or two to store a curled-up charge 'n' sync Apple Lightning cable, but there's no need of you're packing one of our favourite clutter-busting gadgets of all time – the Nomad ChargeKey.
Just 62mm, this tiny USB-Lightning cable sits on a key fob, and comes in Android flavour, too. It certainly adds to the appeal of the iPad Mini Retina as the most travel-friendly of tablets, but not as much as these delicious cases.
1 Waterfield Designs iPad Travel Express
Price: US$59 (£35/AUS$63)
This is travel heaven for the Apple devotee. Clutching an iPad Mini, a book, portable battery, Apple Lightning cable, portable battery and air tickets all in one hand while you drag your luggage up the aisle is no way to start a plane journey. Cue the iPad Travel Express, which takes an iPad Mini Retina (even if it's wearing a Smart Cover or a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover) snugly in its main compartment while – almost uniquely – adding other pockets for taking all the annoying things you're probably going to travel with.
Measuring 266x200x40mm and weighing 244g, the Travel Express's main iPad Mini compartment is nicely reinforced and has two sewn-on pockets that are ideally sized for a passport and boarding passes. On the opposite side is a pouch that snugly fits an iPhone alongside a bigger area for cables and a portable battery.
There's a choice between black, green, red, copper, turquoise, pearl grey and brown Muzetto leather for the colour of the bold stripe on the side of the black ballistic fabric case. The zipper is high quality, too, while D-rings come as standard; for an extra US$10 there's a shoulder strap that really comes into its own in airports and on planes.
For frequent flyers, the iPad Travel Express is a real problem-solver, but it's handy for any kind of short trip.
2 Covert Stafford
Price: US$50 (£29.99/AUS$54)
If waxed jackets aren't your style, how about Herringbone Tweed and some satchel style? Gunning for the timeless classic look is the Stafford from Covert, though this case offers minimal functionality.
A slip rather than a folio, the Stafford takes an iPad Mini Retina inside its soft, grey microfibre lining (think PC screen or camera lens microfibre cloth) that should protect the screen, though it's the cardboard inner that gives Stafford the requisite rigidity. It weighs just 135g.
The lid is fastened using two poppers, one on the inside of the lid, and one on the rear of the Stafford that closes using a wraparound tan leather buckle, though it's purely a design flourish.
The appeal of the Stafford is in its retro styling and its hand-crafting; there's no auto-off features so make sure you switch-off your iPad Mini before stowing it in the Stafford. Stafford is also available for the iPad and iPhone.
3 Logitech Ultra Thin Keyboard Cover
Price: US$79.95 (£69.95/AUS$142)
Can the iPad Mini Retina replace a laptop for working on the go? It can if you add this, by far the best keyboard-cum-cover for the iPad Mini Retina.
Initially we were doubtful that Logitech could repeat the feat achieved by its excellent version for the iPad, but despite the loss of a few repeated buttons (alt, tab, shift and caps lock are only present once), the typing experience is surprisingly brilliant.
Weighing 217g (the iPad version is 328g), it clips to the iPad Mini Retina using a magnetic spine that doesn't offer quite as polished an experience as its bigger brother, but it gets darn close. Touchscreen addicts might baulk at the addition of a hard-button keyboard, but its dual purpose design makes this cover hard to beat.
However, do bear in mind that it uses Bluetooth (the battery lasts for yonks and recharges via Micro USB), so it can't be used on a plane.
4 Proporta Barbour Brown Leather Case
Price: US$74.95 (£54.95/AUS$)
The waxed jackets sold by Barbour might not have universal appeal, but this sturdy brown leather case for the iPad Mini Retina will find fans beyond wearers of weatherproof clothes for the countryside. The brown faux leather is soft to the touch and on the inside is a bay to snap-in the iPad Mini Retina. As well as a cutout for the rear camera, there's one alongside for the microphone, too, which is pretty rare. The auto-on/off functionality is standard but the extra magnetic closure is a nice touch.
With the tablet in-situ, there are two raised pads – covered in the famous Barbour tartan pattern – which prop-up the iPad Mini Retina in three different positions.
At 221g it's a bit of a heavyweight effort, but this is surely one of the smartest covers around.
5 Otterbox Defender
Price: US$79.90 (£49.99/AUS$63)
Though the idea of an adventure-grade case for the iPad Mini sounds like something for hikers, climbers and cyclists, the dust-proof, drop-proof and water-tight(ish) Otterbox Defender makes just as good sense around a hotel swimming pool. Will you break a nail getting the three-layers of hard plastic and silicon on and off? Probably, but isn't that reassuring?
As well as wraparound protection that adds a hefty 200g to the weight of an iPad Mini, there's also a 110g polycarbonate kickstand that can either be clipped to the front to protect the touchscreen, or used as a cradle to put the tablet into various positions It's sold in black, grey/white and pink/white.
Outdoors types (and Formula 1 presenters) should search out the Otterbox Utility Series Latch II (£34.99), a kind of harness set with straps and handles designed for all seven-to-eight-inch tablets.
Best iPad Mini 2 Retina cases: 6-10
6 Be.ez LE Littoral Folio
Price: US$58.50 (£34.90/AU$62.10)
If you're the sort that sports canvas shorts all summer long, the LE Littoral might be for you. Softening the iPad Mini's harsh aluminium styling with an all-over padded cotton canvas treatment, LE Littoral from French designer Be.ez has a light, easy going look to it but it's highly functional, too.
Its slightly irregular asymmetric pattern and rust-coloured canvas are inspired by the traditional blouse worn by seamen in Normandy in France, but inside it's more exacting; silicon corner grips keep an iPad Mini Retina firmly in place.
Adding 236g to an iPad Air Retina, LE Littoral's cream-coloured canvas on the inside has stitched ridges that hold its host in three upright positions and one typing positions, with magnets shutting-off and waking the tablet when the case is opened and closed. There's a camera cutout, and a notebook-style elastic strap for securing it shut, too.
Perfect for lazying around and reading in the sunshine, LE Littoral is also available for the iPad Air.
7 Covert Suki
Price: US$50 (£29.99/AUS$54)
Ever wanted a pony but never got one? How about some pony skin instead? It's not real – thankfully – but the cow hide on this glamorous iPad Mini 2 Retina case has been fluffed-up to feel like small horses. That only applies to the flanks, but the presence of ostrich style-leather and regular, smooth leather lends the Suki an unusual look.
Too many cases for the iPad Mini Retina are business-like and a tad conservative, but not the Suki – no way. Though it's also available in a more muted black it's ships in orange and crimson, too.
Designed as a kind of clutch but probably best carried around in a tote or handbag, the Suki looks like en envelope. It acts like one, too, taking an iPad Mini 2 retina inside its soft velvet-like lining. It closes magnetically.
Made by Proporta for surf brand Quiksilver, this two-tone canvas sleeve makes waves with its simplicity. The tan leather-look edging and a double zip enclosure around the top are well made and tough, but our favourite feature is a pocket on the front that's idea for stuffing bits of paper. It's actually ideally sized to hide an iPhone.
Though it's designed for 'devices measuring up to 140x205mm so isn't specific to the iPad Mini Retina, in practice it's a perfect fit and keeps Apple's smallest snug – and with plenty of built-in padding to protect it, too.
Weighing a mere 63g, this canvas sleeve is simple but surprisingly functional. For Quiksilver fans, there's a raised but otherwise subtle logo on the front.
9 Expert Shield Anti-glare Screen Protector
Price: US$20 (£11.95/AUS$22)
For those who like to keep their tablet au natural and think that adding a bulky case ruins the aesthetics, we say 'take care'. You may not have scratched your tablet, but we have (even once suffering from a smashed iPad screen when a ceramic model of a zebra fell off a shelf – true story). It happens, which is why there are a plethora of screen protectors around one of the best being the Expert Shield.
We've applied quite a few of these products in the past, with most suffering from trapped dust that cause permanent air bubbles. The Expert Shield is unusual in that it's designed both to allow the pushing-out of air bubbles with a finger (most use an annoying plastic card) and that it can be lifted-off and re-applied many times without losing its stick.
Best of all, once it's on it doesn't take the edge off the Retina screen of the latest iPad Mini.
10 Tech 21 Impact Mesh
Price: US$67 (£39.99/AUS$63)
For those who want tough but almost invisible protection for an iPad Mini but don't want to chuck away their Apple Smart Cover, look no further than this minimalist three-sided bumper. Adding about 70g to the weight of the iPad Mini 2 Retina, the Impact Mesh is hewed from clear plastic that wraps around three sides and the entire rear of the tablet.
Don't be fooled by its transparent, slim-line look; inside that rim is shock absorbing D3O material that's designed to absorb and dissipate impact. It's flexible, too, allowing easy application to an iPad Mini, and a snug fit.
There are cutouts in the plastic for the camera, mic, headphones jack, on/off switch, speakers and Apple Lightning, with a pass-through rocker for the volume controls.
Although the Impact Mesh is left open on the left-hand side for attaching the popular Apple Smart Cover that only protects the screen, it does just foul the bottom of the Logitech Ultra Thin Keyboard Cover also featured here.