The Apple Smart Cover is the official "case" for the iPad 2 that was designed together with the iPad 2 from day one. Picking up from the older iPad Case that was made for the first generation iPad, the Smart Cover takes on a similar front design and feel. The polyurethane Smart Cover feels exactly like the older iPad Case while the leather version of the Smart Cover does not feel like expensive leather. Are the Smart Covers really all that magical as Apple says? Find out in the full review right after the cut.
In short, the Smart Cover is an expensive screen protector with two modes of viewing angles. $39 will get you a plastic, polyurethane Smart Cover in bright colors such as blue, orange, pink, green and gray and if you're feeling more expensive, $69 will get you the naturally tanned Italian leather Smart Cover in much more boring or executive colors such as black, tan, navy blue, cream and red (product red). For this review I have two polyurethane Smart Covers but I'm also testing out the leather version for comparison.
Apple's leather Smart Cover is an expensive piece of flappy cover which I don't think is worth the asking price. The leather does not feel luxurious nor does it have a noticeable leather grain texture to it. Sure it smells fantastic but if you're going to spend your hard earned money on a Smart Cover, get yourself a polyurethane one instead. Why? Simple, the Smart Cover is just that, a cover for your iPad 2. Using the Smart Cover you get absolutely not protection for the back of your iPad 2 or the surrounding thin bezel. In its defense, Apple claimed they did not want to cover up the beautiful design of the iPad 2 with a case like they did with the first generation iPad and iPad Case. That is understandable, but not for such an expensive price.
You can't argue that the Smart Cover isn't a cool new and fresh concept. Apple did an amazing job designing the core function of the Smart Cover which is the magnetic attraction with the iPad 2. The Smart Cover magnetically attaches to the left side of the iPad 2 without you having to worry about perfectly aligning it every time, it all happens automatically for you. There are magnets built right into the iPad 2 which work together with the magnets built into the Smart Cover to perfectly align the two together. In practice, I can tell you that this actually works flawlessly if you do it right. You do need to make sure that you are attaching the Smart Cover from the left bottom side of the iPad 2 in order for the magnets to attach correctly and not attach to the front of the iPad 2's bezel because the Smart Cover attaches from the bottom side of the iPad 2. It does feel a little magical at first.
The inside lining of the Smart Cover is microfiber which Apple states will clean your iPad 2's screen. That is not the case. Don't expect the Smart Cover to clean your fingerprinty screen in the slightest. All it will do is keep your screen scratch-free, or will it? I'll get into some issues you might run into later in the review.
Besides being a really thin and slim front cover for your iPad 2, the Smart Cover folds back to present you an all new typing angle which is set at a perfect typing angle and it's very stable. The problem here is when you fold and flip back the Smart Cover, the inside protective microfiber lining is now on the outside and is vulnerable and will pick up any dust, particles and what not on your table. Once you're done typing, your screen is at risk of getting scratched by all the small debris attracted to the inside microfiber lining. I've noticed after I clean my screen and use the Smart Cover for a typing angle, my screen will have dust on itself after closing the Smart Cover. To avoid this you can fold your Smart Cover in the opposite way so that the outer polyurethane will be on the outside and the microfiber lining will be on the inside.
The Smart Cover's second function is much of a lesser useful one. The landscape angle is far too step for an enjoyable viewing angle. It's much more suitable for display pictures than viewing a movie or browsing the web. It's pretty stable on a flat surface and you're able to fully use the iPad 2's touch screen. You cannot use your iPad 2 in a portrait angle with the Smart Cover.
The Smart Cover looks good with the matching aluminum magnetic spine and it compliments the iPad 2 a lot. Some people are afraid that this will scratch their iPad 2 but Apple placed these gray pads which cause the two aluminum parts from coming in contact with each other. These pads may look like rubber but in fact they are just plastic. After days of use, I have not seen any scratching of the iPad 2's aluminum finish but only time will tell how will it holds up. You need to be more concerned about the back of your iPad 2 getting scratched while using the Smart Cover. To make things better, you can use a GelaSkins back skin or any other clear back skin to protect against scratches.
I think buying a Smart Cover is good if you're planning on using it to help get a better typing angle and display pictures while also providing a good amount of protection for your iPad 2's glass screen. The polyurethane Smart Cover will show more stains than the leather Smart Cover and it is impossible to remove any stains on the polyurethane material. If you are familiar with the iPad Cover made by Apple, the Smart Covers will not attract dust and smudges nearly as much.
The most useful feature of all is the auto sleep/wake of the iPad 2 while closing and opening the Smart Cover. You never need to press the power/sleep button because the Smart Cover will automatically put your iPad to sleep when you close the flap and it will automatically wake once you lift up the Smart Cover. You can turn this feature of in the iPad 2's settings and even require a password to unlock. It's a very neat and useful feature and something that you will definitely love. Protection wise, the Smart Covers are only good in protecting your iPad 2's glass screen while you carry it around but they will leave your iPad 2's back prone to scratches and dents. Sure a bright Smart Cover of your favorite color or even a leather executive looking one will look pretty sitting on a coffee table and at that, the Smart Cover goes brilliantly well with the iPad 2.
The Smart Covers are far from being perfect but they do look great with the iPad 2. The high price tags might purely justify the cool and unique functions of the Smart Cover. If you're looking for protection, the Smart Cover is not for you. Price $39 for the polyurethane and $69 for the leather.