Quality iPad Pro Cases - One Man's Desperate Plea!
We recently received an email from San Diego based professional photographer Ken Rockwell ( http://kenrockwell.com ) that told of his frustration in finding any quality iPad Pro cases.
Ken outlined his "wish list" of what he wanted for his dream 12.9 case on a post on his blog. He then included this post to MacCase Chief Creative Officer Michael Santoro when the discussion of quality iPad Pro cases came up. So when Ken is asking questions below, he is asking his readers.
The following is the reply sent to Ken from Michael.
Ken Rockwell: Is it just me, or is it impossible to find a good iPad case today?
Michael Santoro: I would agree. There are several factors that have caused this. One bring the flood of cheap, poorly designed and executed iPad cases from China. I was speaking to a closeout buyer who was telling me he was paying .05 cents on the dollar to companies looking to rid themselves of cheap, mass produced iPad cases from China. All that junk is crowding out the quality.
Another factor in the reason why there are so few quality iPad Pro cases to be found is that retail buyers performance reviews are based on how many units they move. They are scared to stock an iPad case over $100 when, you guessed it, so many cheap alternatives are so readily available.
Lastly, the few companies that are actually making quality iPad Pro cases are selling them through their online stores. Do a search for iPad cases and see how many boutique companies show up on page one on any of the search engines. Ebay, Amazon, Target, Walmart, et al. dominate the search results for such a generic term.
Companies making quality iPad Pro cases exist, we're just a bit harder to find.
KR: It's not complicated, but for some reason it seems I've only found one kind of case that meets my basic needs. I've pointed this case out to your guys when it's been on sale, and my family owns a load of them in different sizes — but I can't find it anymore to fit an iPad Air 2 or iPad Pro.
MS: Smaller companies only need to get burned once in a market that is designed to burn itself down every 12 months, to walk away.
KR: I just bought this case, which feels very impressive (and even more so for just ($15), with nice leather and coming in a marvelously soft padded velvet bag. It seems fantastic until you put your iPad in it and realized that the four corners are cut-out, so in actual use after you throw away the silly velvet bag, it won't protect a dropped iPad! This frustration is why I'm asking you folks for ideas.
We all have different tastes, but it's beyond me as to why iPad cases all uniformly get at least one of these important requirements wrong:
It should be thick, soft, durable leather, and should have a good grain so it doesn't slip out of your hand.
MS: MacCase offers to distinct styles of vegetable tanned hides: Our Premium Leather pebble grain, satin black and our authentic, distressed Vintage brown. Both offer an extremely soft hand and are extremely durable. Each hide offers plenty of grip as well as a luxury, quality feel.
KR: It should be soft on the inside so nothing gets scratched.
MS: All MacCase Folios feature an interior fully lined with black ultra-suede and stitched with black thread that is dyed three times so it disappears. All you are left with is screen.
We have been making iPads cases since there have been iPads and serve some of the worlds most demanding customers. We have never had a single customer ever report damage to their iPad due to our case.
KR: It should come in black or brown, and ideally also natural light brown, as well as whatever other colors the ladies like.
MS: These are the exact colors MacCase offers.
KR: Cases like the one I use with my iPad Pro are made of crummy hard leather that feels like plastic, and its inside also feels like plastic — but it's the best I've found for my iPad Pro so far.
MS: Most leather iPad cases use what is known as "bonded" leather. Bonded leather is created by mixing very low quality, scrap leather bits with paper, saw dust and other fillers along with scrap vinyl. A bonding agent is mixed with the garbage to create a paste that is spread out on large tables to create a film from which the patterns are cut. This is why the "leather" feels so hard, slippery and like plastic. Because basically it is!
KS: Nice materials aren't that hard to find, but the problem is, regardless of price, getting one with a proper functional design:
KR: A quality iPad Pro case should protect the iPad from falls from every angle — which means the four corners need to be covered! Ideally covered not just with a sheet of leather, but with seams sewn in such a way that the case hits a thick edge of leather if dropped.
I have no idea why so many cases simply don't bother to protect the four small corners, which just happens to be about the only place you actually need protection from falls.
MS: The corners are a high protection priority for us. We use an elegant solution to protect the corners, one that has worked for hundreds of years to protect the pages of books: Offset.
A hardcover book is constructed so there is an offset between the edge of the hard cover and where the pages begin. This offset protects the the pages all along the edges but more importantly, is highly protective at the corners. If the book is every dropped, the hard cover itself takes the impact absorbing the shock. The pages remain secure due to the offset between where the pages end and the edge of the hard cover.
The same is true for the binding edge. The pages are tucked inside, offset from the top and bottom of the hard cover. The offset works the same way as the outside corners if the book is ever dropped.
All MacCase iPad Folios are constructed the same way as a high quality books and protect the iPad just as well. In fact, the combination of our build quality, superior materials and scale, make interacting with our Folios much like interacting with a heirloom book.
You might ask whether the iPad would move inside the case if it were to be dropped, allowing the corner to be damaged. Our Folios include a large ultra-suede flap that tucks in behind the iPad after you slide the iPad inside our custom stamped alloy steel frame. The flap locks the iPad in place preventing any movement, even during a fall.
Access to Ports and Controls
KR: There needs to be a hole for every connector, camera, button and switch The Kavaj case I bought looked great, until I realized that the volume controls and more were hidden under leather, making them clumsy to use at best.
Of course there needs to be a big enough hole around the headphone jack so headphones fit, but that hasn't been a problem with iPad cases.
MS: MacCase Folios have addressed these issues since day one. Our custom stamped alloy steel frame is designed to allow full access to all the ports and controls. A camera cut out in the rear panel allows for full use of that feature. We go this one better by adding what we call our SoundBoard feature. So many cases muffle the sound coming out of the speakers to the point where you need to raise the volume to get the same level of loudness you had without the case. This drains the battery. Our SoundBoard feature actually projects the sound waves coming out of the speakers out and away from the case, enhancing the quality and allowing for lower volume saving battery life.
Don't Cover the Screen
KR: Again you'd think this was obvious, but some case makers insist on covering the screen, or enough of the bezel around the screen so it's impossible to make swiping gestures properly. This Kavaj case I bought was completely defective in design; it covered so much of the bezel that it made it impossible to use split screens on my iPad pro.
MS: We recently added additional indents into our frame that holds the iPad to allow for access to the control and notification centers in the landscape orientation. We have always provided vertical access to those controls, which actually sit off the edge of the screen itself.
With our new iPad Pro 12.9 model, we had to walk a very fine line between a frame structure that would securely hold the extremely large and heavy tablet in place and not covering the screen.
We have one customer who wrote to tell me he uses his iPad Pro exclusively in the landscape position and could not get to the control center or notification center due to the frame. The frame was not blocking the screen, just the area off the screen at the center point of horizontal border. We tested it and found this to be true.
We have since changed our design to allow access to these features in any orientation. All new MacCase Folios for the iPad Pro 12.9, 9.7 and Air have this feature.
Just flip open
KR: For crying out loud, an iPad case is supposed to just flip open and turn on. That's the whole point, which Apple's smart face covers do so well, except that Apple's face covers offer no protection against drops or the back of the iPad. Apple makes back covers, but I haven't found them in leather, which would be ideal. Apple's leather iPhone cases are perfection, but I haven't found an equivalent for the iPad.
MS: Since day one, MacCase iPad Folios have had seamless, auto on/off functionality built into each cover.
KR: There shall be no latches, bands, locks, straps or other baloney in the way of opening it. It's beyond me why designers go out of their way to add cutesy tabs that have to be undone to get at your iPad.
MS: This is what you get when inferior design ability meets the need to stand out from the hoards of other cheap cases fro all the other manufacturers. Moreover, using a piece of bonded leather scrap to make a tab is so much cheaper than utilizing expensive magnets to do the job. Again, MacCase Folios have always used expensive magnet closures and completely avoided the inferior design solution of bands, tabs, etc. These kinds of design details are what sets the quality iPad Pro cases from MacCase apart.
Keep it Simple
KR: An iPad is supposed to be portable. A case needs to be a case, and should not have pen holders, business card holders, cup holders or keyboard holders hanging off the sides or making it twice as thick as it ought to be. I don't want to carry an office with me; all I want is an iPad case, please.
MS: It's funny that you mention this. We developed a prototype that had many of these features and it was quickly abandoned for all the reasons you mentioned. MacCase makes plenty of other bags and cases that carry our Folios and all the other items you might need for the day. We kept our Folio design pure and un-compromised.
We did however integrate a place for the Apple Pencil in our newest iPad Pro Folio designs. And when I say integrated, it's seamlessly part of the front cover and does not effect the functionality of the case it you are not using it. Feedback from customers who have shopped around have let me know that our solution for protecting and transporting the Pencil is the best available.
KR: Any ideas? I'd love to hear them if you have a suggestion that meets every one of these simple requirements. It's easy to find cases that meet most, but screw up on one or another. I'd love to spend $100 or $200 for one made in USA or another first-world country, but I have yet to find one at any price from any country which meets all these basic requirements today.
MS: I would have a good long look at what we are doing.
Our price points are right around the $150 mark depending on model. Since their launch with the original iPad we have never had a single report of an iPad being damaged or of an issue with the quality of the case itself.
I would love to know if what we are doing will pass the "Ken Test"!