The iPad mini Smart Cover offers some protection and convenience, but it is relatively expensive and doesn’t offer as much protection as some iPad mini users need. Although we strongly recommend protecting buying the Smart Cover or another iPad mini case, cover or wrap right away, we hesitate recommending the iPad mini Smart Cover for those on a budget or who don’t plan on getting a more robust case down the line.
Apple sells the iPad mini Smart Cover for $39, which happens to be the exact same price as the larger Smart Cover for the full-size iPad. Why does Apple charge the same price for the iPad mini Smart Cover as its bigger brother? Because people are apparently willing to pay that much for it. This is an example of the Apple Tax as it its finest.
As much as we don’t like the iPad mini Smart Cover’s price point, it does function as advertised and offers a nice splash of color on an otherwise monochrome device. It’s very thin and light compared to other iPad mini cases and covers we’ve seen so far. Those that prioritize portability and enjoy using the iPad mini.
Read: Best iPad mini Cases
The iPad mini Smart Cover is available in six colors, including pink, light gray, dark gray, green, blue and red. The two gray options are the best choice for professional settings and for those that don’t want to flaunt their iPad minis. The other four colors, including the green iPad mini Smart Cover pictured in this review, are bright and bold. We wish Apple would offer more subdued iPad mini Smart Cover colors, such as the options it offers on the full-size iPad leather Smart Covers.
The iPad mini Smart Cover consists of three polyurethane panels and a magnetic hinge that keeps it connected to the tablet. The magnetic hinge is plenty strong to stay attached to the iPad mini, yet it’s easy to pull the two apart when needed. While the magnet is strong enough to hold a dangling iPad mini while the user is only holding onto the Smart Cover, a shake or bump can separate the two.
Apple’s Smart Cover for iPad Mini commercial demonstrates the product’s functionality and shows the available colors.
The inside of the iPad mini Smart Cover has a layer of microfiber that helps keep the display clean. The iPad mini wakes and sleeps instantly when the user opens and closes the cover, but there’s nothing magical going on here and users will get the same experience with any iPad mini cover with a built-in magnet, which is exactly what’s built-in to Apple’s Smart Covers.
Apple should really offer a Smart Case for the iPad mini. The Smart Case for the full-size iPad protects the back of the device and makes it easier to grip the device. Apple’s Smart Cover for the iPad mini leaves the tablet’s aluminum corners and back exposed, putting it at risk for dings and scratches. This is especially concerning for those with black iPad minis since the black finish shows scratches and other imperfections more than the white iPad mini.
We have no idea if or when Apple will make an iPad Mini Smart Case, but there are plenty of alternatives that protect both the front and back fo the device. For example, the $34.99 Marware MicroShell Folio iPad mini Case is up to the task and serves as a sturdier stand than Apple’s Smart Cover.
The iPad mini Smart Cover flaps fold to form a triangular stand that can be used in three positions. In the position pictured above, the iPad mini leans back at a slight angle, which is ideal when watching videos while at a desk or table.
The Smart Cover can also serve as a wedge to elevate one edge of the iPad mini about 1.5 inch off a desk, while the opposite edge rests on it. This mode is better for typing and playing games.
The Smart Cover can also act as a vertical stand, though Apple doesn’t suggest this position as it isn’t very stable.
The Smart Cover will protect the front of the iPad mini, but there are more protective options out there for the money.