As Apple improves the iPad – so much that, in some cases, it can replace your laptop – a high-quality case that protects your precious slab of aluminum and glass is critical.
But protection is only part of the equation. When you walk into a room with your tablet in your hand, just like any other accessory, it represents you as a businessperson and transmits a message about your company. Finding the right case is no easy feat – there are thousands of iPad and tablet cases available (and many companies that make cases for the iPad make analogous cases for Android tablets). Choosing the right one from the multitude of designs can be a daunting task.
What to look for
As you shop for a new case, consider how you intend to use your iPad. You may use the tablet only in the office or only at home, or you may prefer to travel to meetings and conferences with the tablet instead of toting around a heavier laptop. And if, for example, you're a traveling photographer shooting landscapes in remote parts of the planet, you'll need to think more strategically about how to protect your tablet from environmental hazards.
Form follows function with tablet cases, and major configurations include magnetic smart covers, sleeves, shells, folios, keyboard cases and rugged variations of all those. Sleeves protect your iPad in a purse or backpack while you're mobile, often featuring simple slide-in designs with or without zippers or flaps. Shells and skins protect the iPad's back and sides, sometimes shipping with a screen protector. Folio cases protect your iPad in both front and back; you flip them open to access the screen while the tablet sits in its case. If you intend to use your iPad for typing, check out stands that offer built-in or removable keyboards.
Cases are made from various materials: silicone, rubber, leather, polyurethane, thermoplastic polyurethane and more. Sometimes, a simple cover will do the job. For typical bus or train commutes or short drives, a hard or soft frame also works. But if you travel extensively or to hazardous sites or outdoor locations, you'll need more heavy-duty protection. For outdoor or risky environments (such as a construction site), a rugged, water-resistant case – with or without a screen protector – is best.
Make sure your new case protects the iPad's ports and camera, as they are more vulnerable to dirt, dust or liquids. For iPad cases that include a screen protector, make sure you can properly view the screen and that all gestures register.
But for most meetings and office-related functions, you'll likely be carrying the tablet in your hand. Consider how the case closes and whether it's grippy or slippery in the hand. How simple is it to clean? Can you easily remove the case from the tablet, or do you have to pry it off? Is it sturdy enough to hold your iPad steady without tipping over? Can you can use the camera and hear audio clearly with the case on?
Here are our top choices for the best iPad cases, for any type of business.
It's not called a classic for nothing. This moderately priced case feels solid and exudes a cool, businesslike air. It comes complete with a stylus pocket and elastic strap to hold it securely. A faux leather binding and fabric cover snaps closed, while a velvety lining covers your iPad's glass. You can position your tablet at any angle with the built-in rotating stand for portrait and landscape, while deep grooves hold your tablet steady as you type or watch videos. It comes in black or red for several larger iPad models.
Pad & Quill Contega Linen iPad Pro Case ($119.95)Credit: Pad & Quill
You will absolutely clinch that deal – or at least be known as the most elegant person in the room – when you carry Pad & Quill's Contega case for 9.7-, 10.5- and 12.9-inch iPads to your next meeting. The Contega is designed for beauty and durability with traditional bookbinding tech. The frame is Baltic birch wood covered by buckrum linen – the same material found on hardbound books at the Library of Congress. Bumpers protect the tablet edges from accidental bumps, while a soft lining pads the glass surface. An elastic band secures the Apple Pencil. The multi-angle stand makes the Contega case easy to use for all purposes. It comes in linen gray, charcoal and cranberry.
Dodocase iPad Solid Case ($64.95)Credit: Dodocase
If you're seeking a handsome, durable, premium case for your iPad, the artist-inspired Dodocase Solid is constructed with traditional bookbinding techniques and topped with fabric covers. With the Solid, your tablet fits into a slender, polymer tray with access to your device's ports and buttons. Three viewing modes – upright, angled and A-frame – give you a variety of perspectives for different tasks and activities. For example, the A-frame propped mode is for using your iPad while relaxing on the office couch. It comes in four fabric colors with matching elastic closures: black Moroccan, ocean, cardinal and fog.
UZBL ShockWave ($39.95)Credit: Amazon.com
This sturdy, attractive, protective case combines shock absorption from inside air cells coupled with clear, durable screen protection. A rubberized wave pattern makes for easy gripping when you're on the go. The case, which is available for several iPad models, features a six-angle, removable kickstand constructed to amplify audio so you can enjoy videos on your lunch break. You can swap out the kickstand with a Velcro rotating hand strap if you choose. It comes in black, blue, army green, red and wine red.
MoKo Case for iPad ($11.99)Credit: Amazon.com
Not up for paying Apple prices for a Smart Cover? Check out the MoKo Case for iPad, which works almost the same way, but better. Firstly, there's a huge assortment of stunning patterns and colors, with a smart-shell, translucent, frosted back that provides light protection for your iPad. The synthetic leather exterior, available in 10 solid colors, provides sleep/wake functionality and folds back for reading, typing or viewing video – just like the Apple cover. A microfiber interior protects the iPad's screen.
VRS Design Layered Dandy ($79.99)Credit: Amazon.com
If you're into vintage-style, elegant leather accessories, the Layered Dandy series for 9.7- and 12.9-inch iPad models may be your jam. Whether you choose black, wine red or coffee brown with contrasting stitching, your iPad case will be impressive to all present. The folio cover is constructed of PU leather as opposed to full grain and features dual-layer protection. It converts to an adjustable kickstand with the front cover and shuts with a magnetic closure. Interior pockets hold notes, cards and cash.
Byrd & Belle iPad Felt Sleeve (from $48)Credit: Byrd & Belle
Creative pros may go crazy for the Byrd & Belle felt iPad sleeve, available in dark or light gray with a stylish brown or black leather strap. It's casual, elegant and available for nearly all large iPads. It's wool, with a full-width split pocket in front. The fabric has some give, so you can fit an iPad alone or with a smart keyboard. A deep, narrow pocket also secures an Apple Pencil or stylus. The second pocket is suitable for small notebooks, cards or other tiny items.Credit: Amazon.com
The Rugged Messenger case guards your iPad against drops of up to 6.6 feet and pairs with a detachable, multicolored, backlit keyboard that glows at your touch, giving you great visibility for all kinds of outdoor jobs. Even better, it facilitates multi-device pairing and toggling, while a built-in stand allows multiple viewing angles.Credit: Amazon.com
If you want to use your iPad with a keyboard for business meetings and conferences, the Logitech Slim Combo lets you attach the keyboard for typing and remove it for all other uses. The full-size, backlit keys have a springy feel, with a decent amount of travel and a comfy palm rest. When you're done typing, just close it – it stays put with magnets. The biggest advantage is that it works with the iPad Pro's Smart Connector, so you don't have to hassle with Bluetooth keyboard pairing and recharging. The Slim Combo is available for the 12.9- and 10.5-inch iPad Pro models.