Incipio's Next Generation Polymer soft shell case for the iPad mini comes in attractive colors, has a matte finish for a good grip, is easy to install and remove and comes with a screen protector.
Ever since I saw Alexis Castle (Castle, ABC) with a red shell case on her iPad, I've been enamored with that concept. A shell case that protects the back of an iPad, if properly designed, also protects it when face down by virtue of wrapping around the edge just so. It generally provides a textured surface for a good grip. And, if made from the right material, doesn't pick up debris and lint. I use a red one from iLuv on my iPad 3, and it has been great.
Because of that experience, I was eager to look at Incipio's new NGP soft shell for the iPad mini. In most respects, it's like iLuv's Flexi Gel product -- except that Incipio's is made from what they call a Next Generation Polymer (NGP). As Incipio described it to me: "...the malleable design makes the NGP easy to slip around the edges of the new iPad mini but firm enough to withstand typical impact and scrapes. The smooth matte finish leaves the NGP soft to the touch, ideal for those looking for sleek and reliable protection."
This polymer material tends to remain clean (and is easy to clean).
This case comes in four tasteful colors: Obsidian Black, Indigo Violet, Mercury Gray, Orchid Pink. The review unit, shown above, is the Obsidian Black. Right now, the Mercury Gray and Orchid Pink are shipping; the violet and black versions are quoting 2-3 weeks to ship and pre-orders are being taken.
Using the case
Lots of different kinds of materials are used for iPad and iPhone cases. Some use silicone which is too soft for an outer layer and tends to pick up lint. Polycarbonate is very hard and presents problems for install and removal. Thermoplastic elastomer (TPE) is another material that can also be rather stiff. In this case by Incipio, the polymer material is perfect. It wraps around the edges of the iPad mini without any broken fingernails, and it's easy to remove quickly. It's strong, rigid, durable, and it doesn't pick up debris and lint. It always looks great. That alone makes this case great.
Also included is a screen protector, a soft microfiber cloth to pre-clean the display and a small plastic applicator to smooth out bubbles. There are no detailed instructions; we all know how to apply these dry-application protectors nowadays.
Case shown on the iPad mini. Text is just a Thank You in several languages.
My wife and I tend to not like screen protectors, but I think that when you sell a soft shell case that wraps around only the back of an iPad, it's obligatory to include a screen protector. And the customer, given that option, shouldn't have to pay an exorbitant price for the inclusion.
Packaging, Pricing and Issues
The package is transparent plastic. There is no aperture to feel the surface, and that would probably seal the deal for many store customers. There is a one year warranty.
An iPad mini case has less material than an a full size iPad, but I surmise that the production is like any packaging. There are many elements of cost, and increments in raw material are often not a major player. So I think that $24.95 for this class of case is a fair price.
Another consideration for a case like this is the weight. This one weighs 2.4 ounces (68 g) and, unlike some other folio cases, the feathery weight of the iPad mini is still felt. Other cases that boast bullet-proof protection may take that effect away.
The only negative I found for this case is that the amount of material over the power button doesn't provide much leverage. As a result, one has to press just a little harder than one might expect to cycle the power button. It's perhaps something for Incipio to look at in future production runs.
I reviewed some Incipio iPhone 4S cases in the past that disappointed me, but I have a high regard for this case. It's well designed, uses a great material, comes in beautiful colors, includes a screen protector and is nicely priced. For those fans of light, soft, grippy shell cases, as I am, this is a winner.