With my new iPad2, I decided to go all in and get the Apple Smart Cover with it — along with the HDMI adapter covered here. Is it worth the extra $39 or $69 if you go for the leather option? Let’s take a look.
Apple has a nifty video ad for the Smart Cover that makes it almost look fun. The video does show how it works and stays true to my experience with it, save one minor “action” they use when moving the iPad from the typing position to the upright position with one finger. See my video demonstrating that below.
It definitely is one of the more unique cover/case type products I’ve seen for consumer electronics, so I decided to add one to my iPad2 order. I went with the $39 polyurethane cover in gray. For the most part it works as advertised. It covers the iPad2 screen, and provides auto locking and unlocking when opening and closing the cover. It’s worth noting that the auto unlock feature with the Smart Cover does not override any security settings on your iPad, so if you force it to prompt for a passcode on each unlock (or after a specified interval) the Smart Cover does not override that. The magnets keep it in the exact place it needs to be, and it only goes on one way, so no need to worry if you put it on right or not.
The protection it offers the iPad2 is mostly minimal. I’d say the main feature of the cover is actually more of a stand than a cover or case. It’s about as close as you’d come to a built in stand for the iPad2, and feels almost like an extension of the iPad itself. It provides two standing positions, one in a table top, typing position, and the second in an upright, near 90° angle great for viewing and interacting with content where you’d do minimal typing. However, don’t expect this to be a sole form of protection for your iPad if you are notoriously rough with your devices. There is zero protection for the back, which the aluminum surface is much more scratch prone than the glass screen. Also, I’d expect drop protection to be near zero too, although I don’t want to test that first hand. When not in use, I stick my iPad2, with smart cover on, in a generic, padded, neoprene 10″ netbook sleeve, for added scratch and drop protection. The best thing about the smart cover is that it adds minimal weight and bulk to the sleek iPad2 design so you almost forget it’s there and never gets in the way.
So is it worth $39? For the most part I’d say yes, although if you’re the paranoid type with your devices, you’ll probably be better off going with a third party solution with more complete coverage, which are already taking advantage of the iPad2’s built-in magnetic sensor for automatic locking and unlocking. That feature is not unique to the Smart Cover, and you can even test the iPad’s lock/unlock sensor with any common refrigerator magnet by placing it on the lower-right side of the iPad2. It would be hard to recommend the leather one at $69, unless you really want a more “sophisticated” leather look and are not concerned about additional protection. Early reports on the leather models state that they are showing signs of wear only after a weeks worth of use.
Here’s a quick video I put together demonstrating the Smart Cover: