ESR iPad Pro Case Review: Two Cases That Argue for Third-party Variety Over A Single Expensive Apple Branded Case

ESR iPad Pro Case Review: Two Cases That Argue for Third-party Variety Over A Single Expensive Apple Branded Case

ESR iPad Pro 12.9 Rebound Pencil Case

Design
Features
Value

Summary

A solid case that offers a wrap-around design with good drop protection. Excellent integration of Apple Pencil safety into the design.

4.5

ESR iPad Pro 12.9 Rebound Magnetic Slim Case

Design
Features
Value

Summary

Very slim design offers great protection to the display and back of the iPad Pro, with some projection to the edges. The great thing about this case is its magnetic installation: just snap and go. The exposed iPad edges make up in hub compatibility what they give up it drop protection.

4.7

ESR iPad Pro Case Review

While the number of cases made for iPhones and iPads has certainly shrunk since the introduction of the devices, and wild design variations have mostly retreated from the market in favor of designs that favor function over flair, there remains a wide variety of case makers with utilitarian products that protect devices and keep costs down.

ESR (also known as ESR Gear, but I will use only ESR throughout) recently sent me two iPad Pro 12.9 cases for my 2021 iPad Pro, and both perform well. The cases offer enough significant differences for buyers to make a choice—or perhaps not.  With Apple’s iPad Smart Folio running at $99 you can buy both ESR cases for less than $70 (on Cyber Monday the pair cost only about $41).

What we like

ESR offers a wide variety of cases. I tested the iPad Pro 12.9 Rebound Magnetic Slim Case (product page here) and the iPad Pro 12.9 Rebound Pencil Case (product page here). The Rebound Pencil case was the more protective of the two, with wrap-around protection and a cozy slot for the Apple Pencil.  The Magnetic Slim case trades-off ease of removal and lightweight for more robust protection

Besides the Apple Folio keyboard cases, I have not seen many magnetic cases, but I have to say I like the design of the Rebound Magnetic Slim Case as it hugs the iPad Pro tightly, protecting the front and back of the device while hugging the Apple Pencil securely when the cover is closed.

ESR iPad Pro 12.9 Rebound Magnetic Slim Case
ESR iPad Pro 12.9 Rebound Magnetic Slim Case

The Magnetic Slim Case does not protect the side of the iPad Pro as well as the Rebound Pencil Case, but it does offer some protection as it extends slightly beyond the bezels. It will absorb small wide bumps, but will not likely protect from an edge-on drop from a significant height. The Rebound Pencil Case is the better of the two if drops are a worry. The Reboud Pencil Case also offers superior protection for Apple’s Pencil.

Unlike the Rebound Pencil case, the Magnetic Slim Case easily accepts USB-C hubs that require a clean side of the iPad so hubs can properly snuggle up to the device. 

The most impressive feature of the Magnetic Slim Case comes from its ease of removal. Just unsnap it from the back of the iPad and it’s off. No fiddling with covers or prying up two interlocking pieces.

Both cases offer viewing and writing modes, but the Rebound Pencil case is better in writing mode in that it includes recesses for securing the Apple Pencil when not in use, rather than leaving it on a desk. 

ESR iPad Pro 12.9 Rebound Pencil Case
ESR iPad Pro 12.9 Rebound Pencil Case

ESR installed wake and sleep magnets on both cases for easy power-on and power-off.

Neither case uses rigid materials that might crack over time.

I have been using both cases over the last several weeks. I want my iPad Pro light and accessible, so it currently sports the Rebound Magnetic Slim Case. When I travel, though, I will likely swap out the Rebound Magnetic Slim Case for the Rebound Pencil Case to bring more protection to the iPad Pro and to the Apple Pencil. Both cases will give way to the Zagg Pro Keys Keyboard Case if the trip requires me to create content.

What could be improved

Connecting iPad Pro-designed hubs, such as the Satechi USB-C Mobile Pro Hub proves the only issue with the wrap-around design on the ESR iPad Pro Rebound Pencil Case. The connectors on most of these hubs are made for a naked iPad. The USB-C connector just doesn’t extend far enough to reach through the case. This issue is easily solved with a USB-C extender, which ships, for instance, with Twelve South’s new Stay-Go mini USB-C Hub. ESR could improve this with a larger opening around the USB-C port to accommodate the typical hub.

It’s hard to complain about inexpensive cases that perform exactly as advertised.

And as with many products, I would love to see ESR reduce the plastic used in packaging. ESR used plastic in and around the boxes. That said, their outer box does not have a plastic window to show off the product, or a plastic hanger for retail, which is great. Moreover, they employ generic boxes with product-specific ID labels to cut down on waste from mismatches between product and demand. I really like the idea of on-demand configurable packaging from an environmental standpoint.

ESR iPad Pro Cases: The Bottom Line

ESR makes very good cases. And at their price, you can’t go wrong with the iPad Pro 12.9 Rebound Magnetic Slim Case or the iPad Pro 12.9 Rebound Pencil Case. Although they serve slightly different purposes, either deliver adequate protection to the iPad Pro for its primary use case. And as noted above, iPad Pro owners could easily purchase both for much less than one Apple case.


ESR provided the ESR iPad Pro 12.9 Rebound Magnetic Slim Case and the ESR iPad Pro 12.9 Rebound Pencil Case for review. Images courtesy of ESR.

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Daniel W. Rasmus

Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.

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