Ever since the iPad Pro came out, it seemed like an obvious third-party accessory would be a case that could also hold a Pencil. However, six months on, the number of iPad Pro cases with good Apple Pencil compatibility is still pretty small.
The Dux ($59.95) is a solid attempt at such a case, a lightweight 12.9-inch iPad enclosure providing some protection against drops and bangs, with an Apple Pencil holster on the side. Its simplicity is refreshing, but that brings with it some shortcomings. Read on for my review.
The case is very much what-you-see-is-what-you-get. It’s a simple rubberized frame with clear see-through back protection. If you want to protect the back of your iPad from scratches and side dents, this will do the job. The black sides feature squishy holes for the iPad’s volume buttons and generously-sized openings for ports and cameras.
The transparent plastic is thick so whilst the case may end up scratching, your iPad will be left pristine. Although it’s no match for fully-fledged rugged protective shells, it’s far lighter than those with the added convenience that the iPad can be easily removed.
The Pencil support is a big part of this case’s appeal. The Apple Pencil fits snugly in the frame’s side holster, half-way up the right side. As you push it in, there’s a convincing click to signify it is secure. The Pencil is very stable in this holster and I was comfortable throwing the case around haphazardly with no fear the stylus would dislodge. Removing the Pencil from storage requires slightly more force than I would ideally like but that’s a nitpicky complaint. It quickly pops out and pops back in when you are done drawing.
Dux touts compatibility with Smart Cover or Smart Keyboard accessories which is true, as the case offers no front protection. There’s enough lenience with the tolerances that practically any iPad accessory that attaches to the screen-side only will work with the case. It’s not as pretty as an Apple Smart Cover / Silicon Case combo, though, which are designed to be used together with matching materials.
Dux claims the case has passed a military grade drop test — I can only assume that this was conducted with the iPad screen facing away from the floor. Simply because of the design leaving the screen exposed, I find it hard to believe that this case is superior to a wraparound leather alternative that includes any semblance of front protection with direct impact to the unexposed screen.
At $60, I think it’s pretty expensive for what it is. The lack of any front protection makes it hard to justify the cost. However, it’s the fact that it doesn’t include front protection that allows it to be so light and still provide good protection of the back side. You can always add a tempered glass iPad screen protector or a Smart Cover to protect the display for comprehensive coverage, although these add-ons need to be factored in to the total weight.
I think the Dux works great in an indoor environment where the Pencil is going to be heavily used. A fully-rugged case including a front element is overkill in these situations and gets in the way of actually using the iPad for day-to-day activities. It’s just nice to have a place to affix the Pencil stylus after use without adding too much bulk to the core iPad. Plus, you get some extra peace-of-mind if the iPad Pro is dropped on its back or side. You can buy the Dux for $59.95.