Happy Holidays! This article is part of our Holiday 2021 Gift Guide where you can find the best-of-the-best recommendations from How-To Geek, LifeSavvy, and Review Geek to help you pick the perfect gift for everyone on your list!
Apple iPads are surprisingly tough, but anything made of glass and metal will still be somewhat prone to damage. This is especially true if you take your iPad everywhere with you, but even at home, a drop can ding or scratch your tablet. Therefore, it’s a good idea to get a case!
Cases come in varying degrees of protection, and an iPad case that’s at home on a construction site isn’t necessarily the best for other scenarios. You need to make sure your case provides enough protection for the situations you’ll use it in, but there’s also no need to go overboard if the iPad will be used by your family.
Protecting your iPad from accidental drops isn’t all cases are good for. Many provide extra features like the ability to automatically wake your iPad and put it into sleep mode to save battery life. Others offer integrated keyboards or built-in Apple Pencil holders to make your life easier.
Something to mention is that we do not include cases with built-in screen protectors in our roundup below. In almost every case, you’re better off going with a separate tempered glass screen protector rather than getting a case with the cover built-in. This way, you can replace the screen protector without replacing your entire case.
With all this in mind, here are the best cases for the new 2021 iPad.
Note: Apple didn’t the dimensions between the 8th generation iPad and the new, 9th generation iPad. This means that even though some of the cases we’ve gathered here show that they’re for the 8th generation iPad, they’ll work perfectly with the 9th generation model as well.
Best iPad Case Overall: Apple Smart Cover
- ✓ Easy to snap on/take off
- ✓ Variety of colors
- ✓ Various positions for watching videos, drawing, etc.
- ✗ On the expensive side
- ✗ Not as much protection as a full case
The closest thing to a “standard” iPad case, Apple’s Smart Cover for iPad offers a blend of basic protection with lightweight materials. If your iPad sees mainly home or office use, this case will be the perfect match for it.
The Smart Cover attaches to your iPad easily, mainly because it only covers the device’s front and acts as a screen cover. Though this means less protection for the back, it’s much simpler to use as a result. A magnet on the side of the cover makes it quick to attach and easy to remove.
With the iPad cover, you can automatically wake the iPad or puts it to sleep upon opening and closing. That’s not the only handy feature either—fold the cover behind the iPad to prop it up, making it convenient for writing with the Apple Pencil.
You’ll find some of the standard colors that you’d expect, like black and white, but the Smart Color is also available in a variety of fun colors. These include Electric Orange, Deep Navy, Cyprus Green, and the English Lavender color introduced alongside the 2021 iPad mini.
If you want something a little fancier, you can opt for the Leather Smart Cover, which adds an extra touch of class for $20 more. Still, for most people, the standard Smart Cover is all you’ll ever need.
Smart Cover for iPad (9th generation)
Apple’s Smart Cover for iPad provides enough protection for most people while remaining thin, light, and stylish.
Best Budget iPad Case: ESR Rebound
- ✓ Very affordable
- ✓ Strong magnet
- ✓ Shock absorbing cover should protect from accidental drops
- ✗ Likely not as long-lived as more expensive cases
- ✗ Physical buttons aren't super clicky
At first glance, the ESR Rebound Slim Case looks somewhat similar to Apple’s Smart Cover. Despite being significantly cheaper, however, ESR’s option has a few features you won’t find in the Apple equivalent. The biggest of these is a shock-resistant TPU cover that protects the back and sides of your iPad.
The back cover is semi-transparent, letting you show off your iPad’s style while keeping it protected. Despite the TPU back, however, the Rebound doesn’t add much bulk to your iPad. This is perfect if you prefer the more minimalist style.
The front cover features the same automatic sleep and wake functions you’ll find on more expensive cases. Sometimes you’ll hear about weak magnets in cheaper cases that make the sleep/wake functionality dodgy, but that isn’t the case here. ESR has outfitted the Rebound Slim Case with a more powerful magnet than most of the competition, so everything should work perfectly.
Protective cases with back covers can, at times, be more challenging to put on your iPad. In the case of the ESR Rebound, the relatively soft, pliable back cover should be easy to put on and remove. This case also comes in a variety of colorways, so you can mix and match with your iPad color of choice.
Given the low price, we don’t necessarily expect the ESR Rebound Slim Case to hold up to the same rigors as some of the tougher cases on offer. Still, for that price, you get some features we’re surprised to see as well as arguably more protection than Apple’s Smart Cover.
ESR Rebound Case
The ESR Rebound is relatively thin and light while still offering a fair amount of protective, all at an affordable price.
Best Premium iPad Case: Torro Genuine Leather Stand
- ✓ USA-sourced leather in multiple colors
- ✓ Elastic strap helps keep cover tightly shut
- ✓ Multiple viewing/use angles
- ✗ Bulkier than some other cases
If you prefer that your iPad looks like a leather-bound notebook, the Torro Genuine Leather Stand Case will be right up your alley. It seriously ups the style points of your iPad while adding great protection both front and back.
As the name implies, this folio-style case uses genuine USA-sourced, vegetable-tanned leather. It comes in a few color varieties, ranging from a natural tan to a rich deep brown. If you’re looking for a splash of color, you get the black case with red stitching.
Though it’s all leather on the exterior, the Torro Stand Case has TPU inside to protect your iPad. It also has multiple stand positions, letting you use your iPad for everything from watching movies to writing and drawing with the Apple Pencil.
The front cover supports sleep/wake functionality, and while it uses a magnet like most cases, it adds an elastic strap to ensure the cover stays closed when you’re on the move. Full cutouts for the volume and power buttons mean you’re not stuck hitting cumbersome built-in case buttons, as well.
While it’s not as slim as Apple’s Smart Cover and not as tough as some of the more rugged cases you’ll see, the Torro Leather Stand Case offers a nice balance of protection and visual flare.
Torro Leather Stand Case
The Torro Leather Stand Case combines a luxurious leather exterior with a protective interior and some innovative features to create a solid premium case.
Best iPad Keyboard Case: Logitech Slim Folio
- ✓ Laptop-inspired keys make for nice typing
- ✓ Battery life up to four years
- ✓ Integrated Apple Pencil holder
- ✗ Some will prefer Apple's Smart Keyboard
When it comes to keyboard cases, it’s tough to top Apple’s Smart Keyboard. That said, it is rather expensive, especially considering the price of the iPad itself. The Logitech Slim Folio rivals the Smart Keyboard with an arguably better keyboard and a much lower cost for many of the same features.
The main feature Logitech Slim Folio case has that Apple’s Smart Keyboard doesn’t is a holder for the Apple Pencil. If you frequently find yourself switching between typing and making quick sketches with the Apple Pencil, the built-in loop will see plenty of use on one side of the case.
Another feature of the Slim Folio you won’t find in Apple’s equivalent is the four-year battery life. Yes, you read that right. Logitech fitted the Slim Folio with two replaceable coin cell batteries that let you use the keyboard for up to four years before you’ll need to replace them. In other words, this case won’t be draining your iPad’s battery.
But what about the protection factor? Logitech’s folio covers both the front and back of your iPad, offering protection from bumps and even spills. Though Logitech doesn’t specify the case material, it’s covered in an outer fabric that is soft but not so soft that the case will wear quickly.
Logitech also touts the Slim Folio’s “laptop-style” typing. While we doubt you’ll find it as comfortable as a laptop’s keyboard, some do prefer it to typing on the Smart Keyboard.
If you like the feel of Apple’s keyboards, you’ll want to pay the premium for the Smart Keyboard. Otherwise, the Slim Folio will make most people happy.
Logitech Slim Folio
While some will prefer Apple's more expensive Smart Keyboard, the Logitech Slim Folio's integrated pencil holder, four-year battery life, and laptop-style keys make it an equally good keyboard case.
Best Rugged iPad Case: UAG Metropolis
- ✓ Meets MILSPEC drop test standards
- ✓ Integrated Apple Pencil holder
- ✓ Not as bulky as other rugged cases
- ✗ Aesthetics won't appeal to everyone
The other cases we’re looking at will protect your iPad from an accidental bump off a table, but not extreme elements. If you’re harder on your iPad, you’ll want a tougher case, and the UAG Metropolis will both protect your iPad and make it look like a piece of heavy equipment.
Not only is the Metropolis rugged, but it’s packed with features. The case features an Apple Pencil holder, as well as compatibility with Apple’s Smart Keyboard. Its wake/sleep enabled folio-style cover even offers a detachable adjustable stand with multiple viewing angles.
With a rugged case, it’s nice to see some proof of just how tough it is. The UAG Metropolis case has that, meeting MIL-STD 810G 516.6 military drop-test standards. In UAG’s testing, it endured 26 drops from four feet high with zero damage to the iPad.
While the UAG Metropolis certainly looks tough, it isn’t a thick and bulky as other rugged cases. This is useful if you’re putting it inside a backpack or messenger bag and space is at a premium.
Many rugged cases come in any color you want, as long as what you want is black. The UAG Metropolis comes in various colors, including Cobalt and Magma, so you even get to have some personality with your protection.
URBAN ARMOR GEAR UAG Metropolis Case
If you need the ultimate in protection, the UAG Metropolis Case will keep your iPad safe day after day, drop after drop.
Best iPad Case with Apple Pencil Holder: Otterbox Symmetry Clear Series
- ✓ Apple Pencil holder makes for quick, easy access
- ✓ Clear case shows off your iPad while protecting it
- ✓ Limited lifetime warranty
- ✗ More expensive than less well-known case brands
Otterbox has been a significant player in the case world for years, while other case manufacturers come and go. The Otterbox Symmetry Clear Series Case will protect your iPad without making the tablet extremely bulky.
While the Symmetry Clear Series is on the barebones side when it comes to features, it does have one that many other rugged cases lack—an integrated loop to hold an Apple Pencil. If you use your iPad for handwritten notes on the go, this is a crucial feature.
The Symmetry Clear Series Case has one more interesting feature: a removable spine on one side. Take this off, and you can mount an Apple Smart Cover for added protection or a Smart Keyboard for easy typing.
As the name implies, the Symmetry Clear Series Case is transparent, showing off the iPad’s colorway. You won’t find military-grade materials, but those cases are overkill for most people, and many tougher cases offer too many compromises when it comes to trying to use your iPad.
Otterbox’s history and name recognition mean that if you need support or to make use of the lifetime warranty, you can safely assume the company will still be around in a few years as well. So all in all, this is a great choice for an iPad case.
Otterbox Symmetry Clear Series Case
The Otterbox Symmetry Clear Series Case holds your Apple Pencil and will still work with the Apple Smart Cover or Smart Keyboard for even more protection.
Best iPad Case for Kids: Fintie Kids Case
- ✓ Integrated handle doubles as a stand
- ✓ Foam case protects both kids and the iPad
- ✓ Wide variety of colors
- ✗ Uncovered ports and buttons are vulnerable to liquid damage
Finding the proper iPad case for kids isn’t easy. The Fintie Kids Case offers a nice blend of features and safety, as well as a rugged build that means you won’t be replacing the case (or the iPad!) anytime soon.
The Fintie Kids Case looks the part, making the iPad look more like a toy than a fancy piece of technology. It also comes in various kid-friendly colors like blue, pink, and red, plus a more classic black color. The material is thick foam rather than hard plastic, making it kid-proof.
One of the major features of the Fintie Kids Case is its built-in handle. This makes holding the iPad easier of course, but that’s not all it does. The handle doubles as an adjustable stand, letting the iPad stand up for watching videos or tilt back for drawing with the Apple Pencil.
The thick foam body has cutouts for buttons and ports, so keep in mind this isn’t fully liquid proof. That said, the cutouts make plugging in the iPad to charge a more straightforward process than you would see with some other kid-focused cases, so it’s a worthwhile trade-off.
Fintie Kids Case
The Fintie Kids Case makes the iPad seem more like a toy, which isn't a bad thing. The integrated handle/stand sets it apart from other kid-friendly cases.
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