Apple’s iPad Air launched to much admiration earlier this year. It brought a wealth of improvements to the table including Apple’s ultra-swift A7 chip that enables 64-bit processing power to the fore.
There was also the revamped iOS 7 platform, and a whole host of proprietary software chicanery to jazz up the overall user experience.
Perhaps the most notable changes come in the design, with the latest Cupertino slate aping the iPad Mini’s aesthetics.
The iPad Air’s bezel is a whopping 43% thinner than that of the model it replaced. It’s also 28% lighter, meaning that users will probably be more inclined to take it out and about at every available opportunity.
As such, that precision engineered aluminium bodywork has a greater chance of being scratched and scraped; unless, of course, you clad it in one of these cases we’ve picked out as the best iPad Air protectors currently available.
Apple Smart Case
Price: £65 (US$79, AU$99)
In case you hadn’t heard, Apple has a bit of a reputation for designing sleek and elegant bits of kit. Which is why it’s not all that surprising to see the firm’s ‘own-brand’ case at the top of the pile marked ‘best looking’.
Constructed from premium rubber and tightly cloaking the device, the Smart Case doesn’t add any bulk at all to the iPad Air.
The front screen covering has a dual purpose and functions both as a kick-stand when folded around to the back as well as enabling the iPad Air’s Smart Wake feature that powers up the slate from sleep when opened.
The only downsides to this case are it’s quite expensive, and it doesn’t half get grubby quickly.
Incipio Capture Case
Price: £65 (US$90, about $98)
This rugged case offers multiple layers of protection and will be of particular interest to those who use their iPad Air in the great outdoors.
There’s a removable 360-degree rotating neoprene hand strap, which is a useful addition.
However, there’s no kick-stand or any added features, bar a screen protector. The soft interior, splash and dust resistant outer and thick, shock absorbing bumper round the perimeter edge will keep your pride and joy from harm though.
Chil Notchbook Case
Price: US$40 (about £24, AU$43)
Books are great aren’t they? They feel nice to touch, they’re easily pick-up and put-downable and you can use them one-handed. That’s why their design hasn’t changed for hundreds of years. Those reasons are also probably why Chil has decided to incorporate those qualities into the Notchbook case.
There’s a book-like spine to this case with a notch in it to allow you to fit a thumb in there and hold the case in one hand as you would a paperback.
The microsuede lining only adds to the luscious, premium feel. A padded leather outer cover offers adequate protection from scuffs and scrapes and is secured in place by magnets when in the closed position.
It also folds over and becomes a stand in landscape orientation, as well as enabling the auto sleep/wake function of the iPad Air. Functional and stylish, what more could you want?
STM Dux Case
Price: £32 (AU$70, US$50)
The rear panel is completely transparent so you’ll still be able to marvel at Apple’s awesome design but the thick grey rubber frame won’t be to everyone’s taste and adds a bit of girth to the device.
All the connectivity ports are accessible thanks to neat cut-outs and the volume rocker and power-on buttons are also covered for added protection.
As is pretty much standard with tablet cases, the polyurethane cover folds back to act as a stand and a magnetic strip securely closes it when not in use.
Cygnett Paradox Texture Case
Price: £35 (US$50, AU$64)
Put next to a few of the cases in this list, the Cygnett Paradox Texture case is a comparative weakling and won’t be of much help should you drop the iPad.
We’ve included it because of its unique take on the whole tablet case thing – there’s no boring ‘fold over to become a stand’ approach here.
Instead you sort of mangle it origami-style to form a pyramid construction and fit the iPad into that – very similar to the same ones seen for the Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, in fact.
The textured finish is admirable too and a magnetic closure system ensures that the cover won’t flap open in transit.
Targus Versavu Rotating Case
Price: £45 (US$50, AU$60)
Tough plastic is the order of the day here and whilst the Targus Versavu is perhaps not the most stylish of the cases listed here, it’s certainly the best all-rounder.
It offers protection and functionality in equal measure with few concessions in important areas.
There’s 360 degree rotation to be had in both portrait and landscape orientation when used as a stand, and it’s as sturdy as some of the more rugged options only nowhere near as bulky.
That said, it is a touch on the heavy side and it doesn’t support the Smart Wake function, but you can’t have everything I suppose.
Gumdrop Bounce iPad Air
Price: £21 (US$35, about AU$38)
The Gumdrop Bounce is the most aptly named accessory in this rundown – its tyre tread rubber outer looks almost edible and your first reaction is to take a bite.
Don’t do that though – although if you did you’d still struggle to put a mark on the tablet, such is this case’s ample rubbery protection.
A snug fit all-round, the rubber outer contains ‘air chamber protection’ which means air bubbles within the silicon that help disperse impact shock.
Buttons and ports are easily reached via the precision cut-outs and both cameras have their own little porthole too. The only downside to this one is that it’s a bit hefty and would look faintly ridiculous in a business meeting.
Urban Armour Gear Scout Case
Price: US$50 (about £30, AU$54)
Had The Terminator been made in the last few years, this is the case Arnie would have his tablet wrapped in, with the exterior armour perhaps more suited to the battlefield than the boardroom. This case can take a serious battering and your iPad Air wouldn’t feel a thing.
It is very bulky however, and the hard, gummy shell does lend it the appearance of one of those stow-away boxes you keep power tools in.
That said the Scout case is deceptively light and the build quality is excellent. It doesn’t support the Smart Wake feature but it can be fashioned into a stand for both portrait and landscape use.