Hands-on: 10.5-inch iPad Pro ‘Smart Case’ provides rear protection for less than $20 [Video]

Looking to protect the front of your iPad Pro with Apple-produced gear? Apple provides three different options. You can opt for a traditional Smart Cover, a Smart Keyboard, or Apple’s iPad Pro Leather Sleeve.

All three of the aforementioned products protect your iPad Pro in various ways. Both the Smart Cover and the Smart Keyboard will protect the front of your iPad Pro via a magnetic attachment that allows you to easily use the device with the cover or keyboard still attached. The Leather Sleeve, obviously, renders the iPad Pro unusable while contained within the case.

Only one of the products — the Leather Sleeve — provides any sort of rear protection for the iPad Pro, but as stated, the device can’t be used while enclosed inside.

This presents an interesting predicament. Apple doesn’t currently sell any first-party cases that protect the rear of the iPad Pro while in use. Not to mention that a Smart Cover + Leather Sleeve, or Smart Keyboard + Leather Sleeve combination can easily approach $200 or more depending on which you opt for. But even if money were no object, Apple just doesn’t offer a solution to this problem. So I took the next logical step, and found a case on Amazon.

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During recent visits to my local Apple Store, I overheard a few customers asking about rear protection for the iPad Pro, and both times the response from employees was to “check Amazon.” I know that can’t be the company line, but it’s what I heard being recommended on two different occasions.

As it turns out, that’s not terrible advice. You can easily score a 10.5-inch iPad Pro case with integrated “Smart Cover” for well less than $20. I opted for ESR’s Smart Case Trifold Stand, which functions as both a Smart Cover and a case to protect the rear of the 10.5-inch iPad Pro.

Video walkthrough

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This case is an all-in-one unit, which allows the iPad Pro to snap inside for quick and easy protection. It’s definitely not the most high quality case you’ll find — the rear shell is comprised of cheap, seemingly brittle plastic that’s a magnet for fingerprints — but I’ve found that they generally hold up decently over time.

I use a similar case with my first-gen 12.9-inch iPad Pro, and I’ve had it on since that device launched back in 2015. At this stage in its life, it doesn’t look pretty, and there are some definite cracks in the case’s armor due to the cheap plastic, but the iPad that it’s protecting is still without so much as a scratch.

The “Smart Cover” portion of the case features a tri-fold design that allows it to stand up in a presentation mode, and in a low profile typing mode. The cover, which is lined with a soft microfiber-like material to protect the screen, also features integrated magnets that work perfectly with the iPad Pro’s sleep/wake mechanism.

All of the necessary cutouts are there for the camera, flash, microphones, buttons, and speakers. The case fits like a glove but the chamfered edges on the iPad Pro remain somewhat exposed due to the lack of a lip in some areas. This is only an issue when the case is open, so it likely won’t cause much of a problem.

For less than $20 shipped, this case is a solid option for those who want both front and rear protection for the iPad Pro, along with all of the niceties that a Smart Cover provides. Unfortunately, options for cases that play nice with Apple’s Smart Keyboard or Smart Cover have yet to appear, but such a product remains locked on my radar.

What do you think about Apple’s decision to forgo production of a rear case for the iPad Pro? Do you think Apple is correct in its decision, and that such a case is unnecessary, or do you prefer to have the rear of your unit protected?


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