Safe, secure, standing up
Cases for portable devices have been a cash camel for device manufacturers for quite a while now. Ever since Apple unveiled their Smart Cover that first debuted with the iPad 2, the big names have been trying to shift their own official cases at a premium. I mean, just look at the cost of Apple’s leather Smart Case, it’ll empty your wallet to the tune of £55 for an iPad Mini, which is more than 20% of the cost of the device itself.
Now, I’m all for protecting my devices, but at that price I’d rather buy insurance than a case that may, or may not, protect the screen and casing of the device itself.
Thankfully, there are a bunch of other options for protecting your devices from companies like Gadget Wear. They’ve been gracious enough to send through a Crystal Series iPad case, which looks and feels a lot like Apple’s own offering, but is priced much more reasonably at £19.99.
The feel of the material is very close to that of Apple’s case, but available in a variety of colours including Hot Pink (pictured), black, white, green, blue, yellow and multiple shades of tan/brown for the leather purist.
That being said, the Hoco Crystal Series case is not made from cow’s leather, but rather from synthetic materials. As far as leatherette cases go, it’s one of the more convincing I’ve seen, in fact I would have said it was leather had the product description not been explicit that it wasn’t.
As with a lot of cases, the Crystal Series allows you to stand your device upright in order to view the screen in a “hands free” mode. This is a useful feature that many manufacturers include in their cases, and for the iPad Mini version at least it works very well. Double the “lid” of the case over and it becomes a pretty sturdy stand that keeps your device safely stood up, even with a fair amount of prodding at the screen.
The casing itself hugs to our iPad Mini 2 quite well, only coming loose when we gently pry it away. In an (accidental) drop test from around 2 foot high I did find that the case popped off, but you could argue that after the first bounce the case has done it’s job in protecting the device.
Suffice to say, this isn’t being marketed as a case for protecting your device against impact, but the wrap-over design does protect your device from all sides in general use without adding too much bulk. The material that the case is made of, while not real leather, seems to stand up to abuse quite well. This sample has been left out in the sun, been slid around tables, thrown on beds and even taken a brief shower in sun lotion without any negative effects. It still looks as good as the day it was sent for review, which was several weeks ago now due to a spot of ill health on my part.
At just under £20, the HOCO Crystal Series is not the cheapest iPad case on the market, but it does represent good value for money. I can see this being a case which outlasts the device itself, given how well it’s made and my penchant for buying shiny new devices the minute they’re released.
For this money, you could go and buy two or three cases on eBay from the Far East, but there’s no guarantee on the quality. At the same time, the official offering from Apple is more than double the price of this unit, with no discernable advantage. This case does everything that the official one does, while still protecting your device to a good standard.
The automated off/on mechanism even works, due to a small magnet fitted into the lining of case, as in the official case from Apple.
There are an abundance of different cases out there, but this one hits that sweet spot between functionality and price well. I wouldn’t want to spend this much on a case, but now that I’ve lived with it for a while it is absolutely worth the money it ships for, and should definitely make your shortlist.