Review: iPad Pro 12.9 Cases from UAG, Twelve South and Otterbox
The iPad Pro 12.9 case dilemma. Apple doesn’t get device cases. Its weird battery bulge for the iPhone case and the elegant but not very protective Smart Keyboard Folio for the iPad Pro leaves plenty of room for additional innovation. Apple’s traditional iPad cases are fine as far as they go, but they distract from Apple’s design in the way some third-party cases don’t.
This review focuses on three cases for the 12.9-inch 3rd generation iPad Pro. The Apple solution, the Smart Keyboard Folio does a wonderful job of protecting the big surfaces of the iPad Pro from scratches, while offering a decent typing experience (would be much better with backlit keys). What Keyboard Folio doesn’t do is protect the iPad Pro from drops of any sort. Hit edge on and the Smart Keyboard Folio does nothing but let the shock of the fall reverberate through the iPad Pro. iPad Pro owners who limit their experience to Apple’s Smart Keyboard Folio may well find themselves using their device a bit more gingerly than planned.
Device case designs and variety no longer reflect the exuberance of the early days of iPhones and iPads, but innovations continue from top companies like UAG, Twelve South and Otterbox.
A case that capitalizes on Apple’s innovation and its design flaws. This case requires the Smart Keyboard Folio as its base, and then builds heavy-duty protection around that. Keep the KeyBoard folio fully functional. Pros
- Adds needed protection to the Apple Keyboard Folio
- Drop tested against military standards (MIL STD 810G-516.6)
- The only design that incorporates the Apple Keyboard Folio
- Special hinge supports all Apple Keyboard Folio magnetic viewing positions
- Retains access to all ports, including magnetic Apple Pencil charging
- Increases weight and bulkiness
If you want both protection and Apple’s keyboard, this is really the only choice available. Cleverly engineered, but not as cool looking as other UAG products as reflects a more utilitarian use case.
BookBook vol. 2 for iPad Pro Case
The latest re-imagining of the leather BookBook series of book-like cases. Designed for new iPad with almost no bezel.
- Lovely antique leather book design
- Very protective when zipped closed. Unlike other cases, there is a zero-percent chance that the case will open if dropped.
- Excellent Apple Pencil protection inside
- Easily converts to a typing/drawing configuration
- Pocket ideal for a slim alternative to the Apple Keyboard Folio, such as the Logitech Keys-to-Go (or for documents)
- Opening for camera lens (new to the BookBook design)
- Dual zipper design allows for access to ports even when mostly zipped up
- Not compatible with Apple Smart Keyboard Folio
- Some may feel bad bending back the beautiful leather to go full tablet mode (It does work. The more you do it, the easier it is to bend and to forgive yourself.)
Older Twelve South BookBooks relied on the bezel as they tucked the iPad into a leather frame. While the new version eschews leather for a more traditional snap-on plastic tray. But the tray is required by the design. This choice also created the opportunity for a pass-through camera opening. The tray brings precision alignment for ports, including the camera, not available to previous leather only versions.
Symmetry Series 360 Folio Case for iPad Pro (12.9-inch) (3rd gen)
An all-in-one case that does what it says it does: 360-degree protection for the iPad Pro.
- Complete protection, front and back when the case is closed.
- Clear, minimalist case keeps Apple’s design and logo visible.
- Great protection for Apple Pencil when the case is closed.
- Lifetime warranty
- Magnets activate sleep and wake modes
- Multiple case positions for full tablet, typing/drawing and standalone
- Not compatible with Apple SmartKeyboard Folio
A very good streamlined solution for those who want a minimalist design and are willing to use a Bluetooth keyboard.
Keep the Apple Keyboard Folio for a seamless typing experience that doesn’t require charging or connecting, but add some bulk to account for all the edges…or forego the Apple Keyboard Folio to open up options for just a lighter weight case or to craft an entirely different, perhaps more personalized, experience.
A comparison of all three cases in their best poses
All products were provided by the manufacturers for evaluation and review purposes.
Read the Serious Insights guide to device case selection here.