NewerTech Pad Protector for iPad mini: Luxurious Leather

| In-Depth Review

Newer Technology has just introduced (5 Jan 2013) a full leather folio case for the iPad mini. There is no inner plastic shell that needs to be clipped on; instead, a small flap keeps the iPad in place. A magnet enables sleep/wake, and there are two landscape orientations. A screen protector is included.

This case is made of 100 percent real leather and has a sturdy yet luxurious feel, an all encompassing feel, while allowing access to all ports and controls. There is a soft suede interior lining, and it's available in red (shown here), black and cognac (tan).

Here's a formal list of features:

  • Magnetic wake/sleep feature
  • Top grain leather construction with quality stitching
  • No plastic or metal parts other than the magnet
  • Screen protector
  • Microfiber cleaning cloth
  • Two landscape orientations suitable for either viewing or typing

Black version. Landcape position #1 -- for viewing.

You install the iPad mini by sliding it into the case frame, then wrap the leather flap around the back of the iPad. The leather flap is thick and stiff enough that there is no concern that the iPad will fall out.

The suede lined flap wraps around the iPad mini, holds well.

The screen protector is a standard design, but the microfiber cloth that accompanies this product is not. Instead of a thin, tiny cloth, seemingly added as a small concession, the 5.5 x 6-inch cloth is thick and generous. When not used to clean the mini's display prior to applying the protector, it can be used to clean the protective screen afterwards -- or any other device with a display.

I particularly liked the quality and stitching of the leather. It has a solid, quality feel and is really more than just a protective case. You can see that in the photo below.

The leather feel and stitching are excellent.

It adds an element of style and class that augments the iPad mini -- at a cost of just 6.37 ounces (180.4 grams.) The iPad mini itself weighs 10.9 ounces (312 grams), so this case ads some heft, but in my use, didn't seriously detract seriously from the light weight feel of the mini. It's still a lot easier to hold for reading than, say, a full iPad with its own case.

The leather frame of the case keeps the cover of the case from touching the iPad's display, but the inside of the cover still has a soft suede to make sure the display is never scratched if you elect not to apply the screen protector.

Unlike some other cases we've reviewed, there is no annoying elastic band to keep the case closed. Such straps generally detract from the aesthetics of a case like this. But that's done because the cover, with a typical hinged section, refuses to lie flat. With this case, I didn't have that problem -- the sleep/wake magnet helps with that.

Also, this case somewhat resembles the Speck FitFolio Case previously reviewed. But that case has an inner plastic shell that snaps onto the iPad mini. Even though that shell is plastic and isn't likely to damage the aliminum iPad, I got the feeling that, at some point, I would either break a fingernail, mar the iPad's annodized aluminum or break the plastic itself. This case suffers from none of those drawbacks.

I did some reading over the weekend with the Kindle app, and I found that it was easy to bend the case around the back and hold it with one hand for reading in the portrait position.

Issues

I had two minor issues with this case during testing. First, out of the box, the leather is very stiff. Newer Technology told me, "When we decided to give consumers a leather choice for an iPad mini holder, we did so for the natural long term durability of leather. A case made out of an artificial material may crack or tear over time, and we wanted to provide a choice that will truly last a lifetime. However, in the same way that brand new leather shoes need a little bit of a break-in period to feel comfy, the leather on The Pad Protector mini needs some of that break in period as well."

Where that comes into play is the stiffness of the spine. If you set the case up for the most vertical orientation, the spine, being somewhat stiff, can cause the center of gravity to shift rearward and allow the iPad top fall over. So if you set up the case like this, it could be a problem.

Out of the box, the spine (red arrow) is somewhat stiff and weight is shifted rearward.

However, after some use and flexing of the spine, the spine itself will tend to lay more flat, and then it will look like the photo below, more or less.

When the spine is more supple, the weight shifts forward favorably.

The photo on the cover of the box doesn't show the spine laying that flat, so that could be a little bit confusing about the optimum use.

Another technique is to not tuck the cover so tightly under the flap on the back of the case, leaving a bit of a gap. That shifts the center of gravity forward and also prevents tipping over.

The second issue I had with the initial testing was the sleep/wake function with the magnet. Again, after a weekend of flexing, testing, and experimenting, I found that the more worn (seasoned) the leather became, the fewer problems I had with the magnet triggering the sleep/wake.

As it stands now, it's not much of a problem. For the record, I did have better luck allowing a slight bow in the cover so that the edge of the cover was pulled back toward the spine by perhaps a couple of millimeters. The customer may have to do a little testing here to get the geometry just right 100 percent of the time. I am satisfied now that I understand it, but the customer should be aware of this "break-in" period.

Packaging

Like all Newer Technology products, the case comes in an attractive, sturdy, well labelled box. There are instructions on the back of the box for applying the screen protector, and they're also on the product page, under the "installation" tab.

I like great packaging.

Summary

Of all these cases I've tested, this is now my favorite. (And my wife's favorite.) The beautiful stitched leather, the fact that the somewhat smaller and more easily jostled iPad mini has its display protected when on the coffee table, the fact that it provides maximum physical protection with minimum possible extra weight, the ease of holding it in portrait mode, the two landscape desktop modes and the overall quality speak well of this case.

Landscape position #2 -- good for typing.

Just be sure to note the guidance on the product purchase page. The Pad Protector mini case is so durable, it will likely outlive the iPad mini. So it deserves plenty of handling, bending, and break-in as a result -- especially the spine area. That's just how it is with new leather when it's thick and durable.

Product: The Pad Protector mini

Company: Newer Technology

List Price: US$33.99

Pros:

Quality leather and stitching, no extra parts needed to hold iPad mini secure, all ports and control accessible, two landscape orientations, magnetic sleep/wake function, screen protector and large microfiber cloth included. Doesn't add an obnoxious amount of weight at 6.4 oz. Easy to hold with conver folded back in portrait mode.

Cons:

Out of the box, the leather needs (and really benefits from) some handling, bending -- a break in period.

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