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iPad mini Smart Cover disappoints compared to its predecessor

Lex Friedman | Nov. 8, 2012
I liked the original Smart Cover for the iPad , but I didn’t love it. With the new, smaller $39 Smart Cover targeting the iPad mini, Apple introduced new, more troublesome flaws.

The three-panel iPad mini Smart Cover doesnt offer as elegant a behind-the-back solution. Since the cover has just the two creases, you cant fold it in half; you get about a third of the cover poking out on the left side if you try the fold-it-over-itself approach. You can instead swing the cover completely around the iPad mini, 180 degrees, but since it cant cling magnetically to the rear right edge of the iPad, the side of the cover droops down lazily. And theres also an option to fold the cover up accordion-style, leaving a narrow strip to grabthough its one that more than doubles the iPad minis thickness.

I dont like any of those options, so Im often removing the Smart Cover entirely when I want to use the iPad mini. Thats not a tremendous hardship, but its an annoyance and a disappointment.

Also disappointing is the fact that the iPad mini Smart Cover just feels floppier and flimsier than its big brother. I dont know if the cloth-covered hinge is to blame, or simply the smaller sizes involved, or what, but the Smart Cover just doesnt stay on my iPad mini and in the proper position nearly as reliably as its predecessor. It shifts out of alignment with the screen, and it seems prone to detaching completely from the iPad mini unexpectedly. When I slide an iPad 3 with Smart Cover into my backpack, I have no issues. Roughly half the time when I slide the iPad mini with Smart Cover into my backpack, the Smart Cover pops off. If youve ever been frustrated by a finicky MagSafe plug overeager to pop right off your MacBook, you know the experience of the iPad mini Smart Cover.

Bottom line

The iPad mini is a smaller iPad. The iPad mini Smart Cover, however, isnt simply a smaller Smart Cover. In forfeiting the extra fold, Apple made the Smart Cover more frustrating to use in practice. And between the smaller size and the fabric-wrapped hinge, something makes the smaller Smart Cover fit less snugly and securely than the full-sized version.

That said, the iPad mini Smart Cover does adequately protect the iPad minis screen when its onthough obviously, it leaves the sides and back completely exposed. On the plus side, it folds more effortlessly than its predecessor, propping the tablet up comfortably for reading, watching, and typing. If Apple could fit a fourth panel without sacrificing stability, that would significantly improve the cover.


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