IPads are amazing tools—they bring together the functionality of a laptop computer, television, e-reader, and more, in a package so slim and lightweight you can take them everywhere. Of course, with that travel-friendliness comes some drawbacks in the form of wear and tear, as they get shoved into backpacks, dropped into bathtubs, catapulted off of unmade beds, and subjected to all manner of chaos from their most enthusiastic users: kids. If you’re spending hundreds of dollars on your new iPad, you’ll want a good, solid case to protect it from all those acts of God, nature, and preschoolers. Read on for a few tips on what to look for in the best iPad cases and a few of our favorite models.
What to Consider
The best iPad cases provide protection from drops and falls, as well as the dreaded mystery cracked screen. To narrow down our picks, we sought out cases with screen protectors or raised edges that prevent a screen from shattering when dropped without chipping or cracking at the corners. Despite our high expectations of ruggedness and durability, we also prioritized cases that felt lightweight and sleek, and didn’t add too much bulk to the tablet’s feel.
But protection isn’t all a case can offer. When shopping for options, a magnetic sleep/wake function is a must to prevent battery drain; this just means the screen automatically shuts off when the cover is closed and stirs back to life when it’s open. Access to your iPad’s ports and jacks while it’s inside the case is another important feature, as well as a stand that actually holds the case at an appropriate viewing angle. Depending on what you plan to use your iPad for, other bonus features to consider include integrated keyboards, waterproof sealing, and kid-friendly features like a carry handle.
How We Selected
As an iPad owner and parent of a small and overly enthusiastic iPad user, I can attest to the importance of a good case to safeguard from cracks and spills. Getting a rich and full lifespan from my electronics is a personal mission of mine, so I’m always looking for the best means of protection. To choose the cases in this roundup, I sought input from colleagues, family, and friends to form my initial list, and then put as many as I could to the test. I also spent many hours combing through online reviews and product specs to identify any pros and cons I might have missed. What follows is the result of my personal testing and research.
OtterBox Defender Series Case (7th and 8th Gen)
• Material: Polycarbonate
• Compatible With: 7th and 8th gen, 10.2 in. display, 2019 and 2020 versions
For those who put their iPads through hell—or for those of us with small children who do—there’s the OtterBox Defender Series, which brings the protection of an imaginary armored tank to your electronics. With a scratch-proof body that has two meters of drop protection and a built-in screen protector, it can hold up to a feral toddler’s abuse. Port covers over all the jacks prevent any dust and dirt from getting inside. And that protection lasts a really long time—I’ve had my OtterBox iPad case for three years with no signs of wear and tear.
- Screen protector guards from cracking
- Port covers on all the holes
Best for Viewing
Zugu Alpha Case for 10.9 Inch iPad Air Gen 4
• Materials: Faux leather, microfiber, fiberglass
• Compatible With: 4th gen, 10.9 in. display, 2020 Air
Lots of otherwise decent cases are held back from greatness by their unreliable stands. The Zugu Alpha Case, however, isn’t one of them—it’s a winner not just for its overall high quality and solid list of features, but especially for its secure, magnetized stand with eight angle options. Made of microfiber, fiberglass, and vegan leather, the case provides plenty of long-lasting protection from general wear and tear, as well as drops up to five feet. It’s got a small window to hold your Apple pencil, a sleep/wake cover, and a magnet so powerful you can use it to stick your iPad to the fridge. That said, it’s a fairly streamlined and non-bulky case that doesn’t feel heavy inside your bag.
- Multiple secure viewing angles
- Powerful magnet
Best for Parents
i-Blason New iPad 9.7 Case
• Materials: TPU
• Compatible With: 5th and 6th gen, 9.7 in. display, 2017 and 2018 New iPad
Kids are on their tablets more and more as remote learning becomes the norm and Covid keeps them away from friends more often than not—and those tablets are starting to show the weariness we all feel. To keep the technology your kid relies on looking fresh and operating smoothly, you need a case that can handle some abuse. This sturdy, inexpensive TPU case is built to withstand a six-foot drop and has a convenient, kid-friendly carry handle that converts into a durable stand. Just note: You’ll have to buy the screen protector add-on for full, child-proof impact protection.
- Six-foot-drop protection
- Carrying handle
- On the bulkier side
- Available in blue and red only
Best Cheap Model
ESR Slim Case for iPad 8th Gen (2020)/7th Gen (2019)
• Materials: Varies with color
• Compatible With: 7th gen, 10.2 in., 2019; 8th gen, 10.2 in. 2020
This sturdy folio case would make our picks list even if it didn’t cost less than a Waffle House breakfast (the black version was $9.99 at last check). Made of a durable and flexible TPU plastic, the case protects your tablet from dings and scratches without chipping or cracking over time, like harder plastic cases tend to. It fits your tablet like a custom-made glove while still being easy to attach and remove. The screen cover’s magnetic closure wakes your iPad when you open it and puts it to sleep when closed. And when you want to prop up your iPad into viewing mode (at a 65-degree angle) or typing mode (at a 30-degree angle), the cover folds into thirds to make a triangular stand that doesn’t collapse.
- Easy to install and remove
Best Keyboard Case
Logitech Combo Touch for iPad (7th and 8th Generation)
• Materials: Plastic
• Compatible With: 7th and 8th gen
Sure, the Apple Magic Keyboard case is a techno marvel, but you don’t have to spend near-laptop prices to turn your tablet into a functional laptop. The Logitech Combo Pad costs far less than Apple’s model and offers most of the same functionality, including a trackpad. In addition, the Combo Pad’s backlit keyboard also features brightness and volume controls, as well as other helpful keys, such as a play/pause button. The case itself is sturdy and durable-feeling, and can be used with or without the keyboard.
- Backlit keyboard
Speck BalanceFolio Case for iPad 9.7-Inch
• Materials: Polycarbonate
• Compatible With: 2017 9.7 in. iPad, iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad Air 2
Speck’s Balance Folio is a sleek, inexpensive case made from faux leather and hard TPU plastic. The case doesn’t excel in any one area, but it checks all the standard boxes and does a little of everything well. Overall, it’s durable and solid-feeling, with raised edges on the inner case to protect the screen and four feet of drop protection. It’s easy to snap your tablet into the case, where it offers sleep and wake functionality when the screen cover is clipped shut or opened. Grooves on the inside of the screen cover allow you to set it up at many different angles in viewing mode.
Best Fully Waterproof Case
Shellbox Waterproof Case iPad 9.7 inch
• Materials: Rubber
• Compatible With: 6th gen, 9.7 in., 2017 and 2018
Whether you spend a lot of time outdoors and don’t want to worry about rain or water damaging your tablet, or you actually want to take some underwater videos, the Shellbox has you and your iPad covered. The rubber case is easy to put on and take off, and fully sealed to provide IP68 protection against water and dust—it’s sand-proof, dust-proof, snow-proof, and fully submersible to a depth of 6.6 feet for up to an hour. It’s also fall-proof up to two meters, so in addition to all that maritime protection, it’s rugged enough to handle calamities on land, as well. The case still gives you access to all the ports and buttons and is relatively slim, with an included lanyard for carrying and an attachable stand.
- Allows you to use your iPad underwater
- Protection from spills and rain
- Excessive protection for those who don’t need waterproofing
Best Leather Case
Casemade iPad Pro 11 Real Leather Case
If you like the look and feel of leather or just like to treat your iPad like a classy, leather-bound book, this is the case for you. Made of natural Italian cowhide leather, the Casemade elevates your tablet experience without sacrificing any of the toughness or functionality of a less aesthetic shell. The case has a sleep/wake function when you open the screen cover, easy access to all the ports, and a durable and snug-fitting but flexible polymer mold that makes snapping your iPad in or out a breeze. The case’s cover folds back and hooks into itself for a secure, triangular stand. It’s a bit on the expensive side compared to plastic models, but it feels great in your hands and looks lovely on your desk or bookshelf.
- Gives your iPad a more formal look
- Function and aesthetics
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