SurfacePad for iPad Air – The Smart Case Apple should have made [Review]

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In an accessories market where every manufacturer is desperately churning out all kinds of plastic covers and shells for every popular device on the market in a frantic attempt to grab that tiny bit more market share, it’s refreshing to still have a company that focusses only on one. A company that cares about attention to detail, and approaches the market with the aim of solving problems others haven’t. That company is Twelve South, and its latest selection of iPad cases is fantastic. I reviewed the Rutledge BookBook cases recently, but I’ve also been using the SurfacePad for iPad Air.

Although I’ve reviewed dozens of iPad cases, I’ve always preferred not to have one on my tablet. Which fits me right in to Twelve South’s target market with the SurfacePad. The iPhone model was the “Case for people who don’t like cases” and I feel the same is true of the iPad model.

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From the outside it looks like one seamless piece of Napa leather that wraps around your device. The front is one, clean leather surface with the Twelve South logo on the bottom, and a small lip around the edges. The back has two rows of sticking down the middle, and a cutout corner to ensure you can still use your camera. It’s only 1mm-ish thick, and so doesn’t add any bulk. And unlike virtually every other case on the market, it doesn’t cover all the iPad’s edges. What that means is that the bottom, top and right edges are all exposed. Now, to some that’s a bad thing. To me, it’s ideal. There’s easy access to all the ports and buttons, which makes slotting it in to a dock or plugging it in to charge as easy as if it was naked.

The case is fixed to the iPad using an adhesive that doesn’t leave any residue and doesn’t lose its stickiness if you peel it off. You can take the case off, and put it back on again as many times as you like, providing you keep it dust-free. Magnets are built in to the front cover to keep it closed, and to activate the iPad’s auto-wake feature.

One problem Apple’s always had with its Smart Covers and Cases is the horrible ridges in the surface of cover. They’re ugly. And yes, I know they’re designed so you can roll it back on itself and form a “stand”, but they don’t provide a very sturdy base. At least, not compared to the SurfacePad.

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Twelve South dismissed the idea of ridges right away, and thought up a way to create a stand without them. And again, it involves the use of magnets inside the front cover. Using the cover as a base, your iPad snaps in to place on one of two magnetic strips hidden underneath the beautiful grey, soft touch microfiber lining. One is around half way along the cover, with the second around an inch behind it to provide to different viewing angles. But there’s also a third, typing angle to be found thanks to a small kick-stand hidden away near the hinge on the back cover.

Each of the stand positions is sturdy. However, I often found myself fumbling around trying to get the kick-stand in the right position to type on the display. Something which did become easier with practice. Once it was in place I didn’t once feel like the iPad would collapse. It held in place really well.

One small fault I found with the case is that, when closed, the SurfacePad front cover doesn’t quite meet the edge the iPad. To begin with, it was around 1mm away. The beauty of leather though is that it can be stretched and worn, and a little stretching soon got it in the perfect position.

 

It’s clear that the case wasn’t designed for anyone who wants a super-protective case for their iPad. This is for people who want a classy-looking cover that protects the display and can act as a stand if you need it to.

Twelve South’s BookBook for iPad Air is a piece of craftsmanship which somehow feels like it should be part of the iPad from the start. This is the Smart Case Apple should have made.

If you want to get one for yourself, you can order now from TwelveSouth.com for $79.99 or from Amazon in the UK for £69. It’s available in black, white or red and comes in an iPad mini version too.

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