The Axis iPad mini case by Marware comes close to being an excellent case for the mini and then misses on a number of counts. As it stands, and it does stand, it's among the top tier of cases on the market so far, and maybe I'm asking for the impossible, but I'm in search of the perfect case.
Axis without strap
One thing that separates the Axis from everything else on the market is that the mini is inserted into a polycarbonate shell, adding a bit of thickness and heft to the unit. It fits firmly and snaps into the backing plate. This gives you exactly the same functionality as the C.E.O. Hybrid case that I previously reviewed. As in the previous case, the construction is of great looking leather with a microfiber interior.
Snapped into the polycarbonate shell
And Now for Something Completely Different
The trick is that when you unsnap the insert from the backplate, the shell rotates 90 degrees, allowing you to view it in three portrait positions. To my knowledge this is the only case that even recognizes that the iPad mini has a portrait orientation and takes advantage of it.
One of Three Vertical Viewing Positions
This is thinking outside of the box in action and automatically makes the Axis case something special. It has three decent viewing positions for both landscape and portrait mode. That alone is worth the money.
What's also worth the money — and it's only $2 more than the C.E.O. Hybrid case — is the quality of the materials used. The leather is very high quality and the stitching is superb. It comes in black, blue, cream, red and purple.
Held by the Hand Strap
The back contains an elastic strap that you put your hand into to safely hold your mini, as well as three cutouts for a tab to rest in viewing positions. The same positions are for landscape and portrait orientations.
Notice the thickness of the elastic strap getting In the wy of the stitching design
The strap is thicker and heavier duty than the one found on the C.E.O. Hybrid and it serves two purposes. The first is to hold the case open when your hand is in the strap, the second is to hold the case closed and therein lies one of the problems in construction which, according to your preference, can range from very annoying to inconsequential.
Both portait and landscape viewing angles
Trouble in Paradise
The problem, at least for me, is that due to the heft of the revolving polycarbonate shell, the case, when not using the strap, does not lay closed leaving a quarter to half inch flap that won't engage the on/off screen feature that works like a charm if the strap is used to keep the case closed. The heavy strap detracts, at least for me, from the excellent look of the case and seems to me like a bit of a kludge. That, however, is a personal preference.
Without the Strap In Place It Doesn't Properly Close
No Typing Angle
What isn't a personal preference is that there is no typing position. That may have been an oversight or it may have been due to the design of the case. Regardless, you won't find one on the Axis.
A Design Suggestion or Two
I would have made the flexible edge connecting the back to the front slightly larger allowing for a decent, strapless close. To go a bit further into personal preference, I would have put a latch or magnet to hold the case closed on its own. That was the same suggestion I offered in my C.E.O. Hybrid review.
In Day to Day Use
Although the cutouts for all things that need to be accessible are perfectly aligned, the polycarbonate shell keeps you further away from your controls. Nothing horrible or unworkable, but from the camera lens to the outer tip of the case is just around half an inch of space -- but it doesn't get in the way and may provide some added protection.
Side view of portait orientation
This may be a deal breaker for some. The Axis adds considerable weight to the seemingly weightless iPad mini. The mini itself weighs 308 grams or 0.68 pounds. With the case, the weight jumps to 556 grams or 1 pound 3.6 ounces. The feel is more like a full sized iPad than a mini.
Would I Recommend It?
Yes, as long as the 90 degree tilting feature offsets the deficits for your particular situation. For me it does, but if it were my only case, it wouldn't. I do a lot of reading, and the lesser weight of the mini was what sold it to me. The way you use your iPad mini will determine if having both landscape and portrait orientations more than make up for the deficits.