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The Top Cases for the iPad Pro


Three ipads inside our three picks for best ipad pro cases, one in gray, one in blue and one in red.
Photo: Michael Hession

After spending at least $800 on an 11-inch iPad Pro or $1,100 on a 12.9-inch iPad Pro, you would be wise to protect your investment.

You can find plenty of cheap cases, but if you can afford to spend a little more, it’s worth it to safeguard your extremely expensive tablet and its scratch-prone aluminum body.

We’ve tested a number of cases for Apple’s newest iPad Pros, and we’ve found a few great options that offer a better balance of protection and price than Apple’s official cases do.

The research

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    An ipad wearing our pick for best ipad pro case, the Speck Balance Folio, in dark blue.
    Photo: Michael Hession

    Our pick

    This iPad Pro case combines design, function, and protection.

    Buying Options

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    Also available for these iPads:

    • Speck Balance Folio for iPad Pro 12.9-inch (6th generation)
    • Speck Balance Folio for iPad Air (5th generation)

    Why it’s great: Speck’s Balance Folio resembles a planner that hides your iPad Pro inside. The case provides excellent coverage, a storage slot for your Apple Pencil, and a protective interior liner. It also supports multiple viewing angles, has cutouts for all of your tablet’s ports, and protects against drops as far as 4 feet. The Balance Folio isn’t the cheapest iPad case you can buy, but its design and functionality make it the best option.

    The two-part case’s exterior is made of a polyester-like material that can help reduce scratches and dents, and it also has an antibacterial coating that promises to reduce the growth of odor-causing bacteria.

    It’s well designed for the price: The exterior cover flips open to reveal a solid plastic shell, which does the heavy lifting when it comes to actually protecting your iPad Pro. The hard interior has cutouts for the speakers, the USB-C port, the power button, and the volume buttons, as well as an Apple Pencil charging area. The plastic shell also houses the case’s stand, which lets you position the Balance Folio at eight different angles, seven for viewing and one for writing.

    The built-in camera shield is a nice touch: The shield, which is made of the same polyester-like material as the case to protect the iPad Pro’s lenses, is a flap with a magnetic closure that allows you to capture photos and videos without removing the case altogether.

    Flaws but not dealbreakers: Because the Apple Pencil has to snap magnetically to the right side, where the volume buttons are, the right edge of the iPad Pro is always exposed.

    An iPad inside of our pick for best ipad pro case on a budget, the ESR Rebound Magnetic Case, in blue.
    Photo: Michael Hession

    Budget pick

    ESR’s Rebound Magnetic Case is a basic yet solid case with two stand modes and Apple Pencil charging and storage.

    Buying Options

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    Also available for these iPads:

    • ESR Rebound Magnetic Case for iPad Pro 12.9-inch (6th generation)
    • ESR Rebound Magnetic Case for iPad Air (5th generation)

    Why it’s great: The ESR Rebound Magnetic Case is an Apple Smart Folio–like option available for half the price of that official case. It includes an Apple Pencil holder, too. If you’re on a budget, it’s a great way to cover your iPad Pro.

    The Rebound Magnetic Case is basically a generic version of Apple’s Smart Folio for the iPad Pro. The front trifold cover can put your iPad Pro in sleep/wake mode, and it can fold into two stand modes, one for viewing and one for writing. Unlike Apple’s entry-level case, this ESR case has a magnetic flap on the side that holds and charges your Apple Pencil while you’re on the go. The Rebound Magnetic Case is made entirely of TPU (a flexible, rubber-like plastic), and the pretty strong magnets keep an iPad Pro securely intact. It doesn’t feel like the most premium case, but it is lightweight and solid. It also grants you easy access to your tablet’s ports, buttons, and speakers.

    Flaws but not dealbreakers: In build and coverage, the ESR Rebound Magnetic Case is on a par with Apple’s Smart Folio. However, it doesn’t provide the complete protection offered by our previous pick, the ESR Rebound Slim Case, which is no longer available. This case is open at the iPad Pro’s top and bottom, as well as along a chunk of the right aluminum side, leaving it exposed and unprotected from spills and potential drops at those areas.

    An ipad inside our pick for best iPad Pro case with lots of features, the Zugu Case, in red.
    Photo: Michael Hession

    Also great

    This case offers lots of angles, great protection, and Apple Pencil support, with a distinct design.

    Buying Options

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    Also available for these iPads:

    • Zugu Case for 12.9-inch iPad Pro (5th generation)
    • Zugu Case for 10.9-inch iPad Air (4th generation)

    Why it’s great: The Zugu Case (formerly known as the Alpha Case) offers more viewing angles than any other iPad Pro case we’ve seen, and it’s just as functional. This case is very protective, and it holds an Apple Pencil and allows the stylus to sync and charge. It makes the buttons especially clicky and pleasant to use, too. Though this case’s design is utilitarian, its features are unmatched.

    It works in a variety of viewing modes: The Zugu Case has a slim, standard folio-style design, with a faux-leather exterior and a rubber bumper around the outside edges. What sets this case apart from others is a series of recessed ridges on the front cover—eight on the 10.9- and 11-inch versions, and 10 on the 12.9-inch model. These ridges, in conjunction with a foldout stand on the back, serve to hold the iPad Pro at various angles, ranging from just shy of perpendicular (which is great for movie watching) to about 30 degrees off your desk (which works well for typing). In our tests, each stand angle was stronger than we expected, thanks to the feet fitting into the ridges as well as the magnets in both, which helped them snap into the right position.

    The case has a unique Apple Pencil feature: Though the Zugu Case allows an Apple Pencil to magnetically stick to the iPad Pro’s side, unlike many cases it doesn’t leave the tablet’s metal edge exposed. Instead, the case’s rubber is thin enough that it doesn’t block the wireless connection, so you can still sync and charge your stylus without risking damage to your iPad Pro’s aluminum. Instead of securing the Pencil in place with a magnetic flap, the case has an elastic pocket on the back that firmly holds the Pencil while you’re traveling. This design works well, but it’s not elegant.

    One additional small touch we like is how the cover nestles neatly into the lip around the tablet’s screen—and stays in place—thanks to magnets. A small tab above the right speaker makes it easy to lift out, but the lid otherwise stays put.

    Flaws but not dealbreakers: You may not love the way the Zugu Case looks—instead of the clean, flat surfaces you might be used to with most cases, there’s a lot going on here. From the ridges to the pockets to the foldout stand, the case’s functional features are quite obvious. If you’re more concerned about having useful features in your case than about showcasing the simplest design, you likely won’t mind. But if you prioritize aesthetics, this may not be the case for you.

    What about the Apple Smart Folio?

    Two ipads wearing gray folio cases, on a wooden table next to a plant and a camera.
    The Apple Smart Folio (top) and ESR’s Yippee Magnetic Smart Case. Photo: Sarah Kobos

    Other than keyboard cases, the only case that Apple makes for the 2022 iPad Pros and the iPad Air are the Smart Folio for iPad Pro 11-inch, the Smart Folio for iPad Pro 12.9-inch, and the Smart Folio for iPad Air (5th generation). But “case” is a generous term here: The Smart Folio consists of a cover that sandwiches the tablet between two thin pieces of polyurethane, using magnets to attach to the back but leaving the top, bottom, and right edges of the tablet exposed. Considering how little protection this case offers, Apple’s pricing is exorbitant, at $80 for the smaller version and $100 for the bigger one at this writing.

    If you love the Apple Smart Folio design, we suggest that you save money (a lot, in fact) with our budget pick and choose . The Rebound Magnetic Case is a nearly identical model that offers the same looks and functionality for a fraction of the price, and it even includes a magnetic flap to hold the case shut. We don’t normally recommend such obvious knockoffs, but this time we think it’s justified considering Apple’s pricing.

    We’ve tested 27 cases for the iPad Pro using the same criteria we’ve used for other iPad case models. This time around, we ultimately found two designs that we liked, plus an inexpensive basic case.

    Here’s what we look for in a great iPad Pro case:

    • Protection: The case must cover the iPad’s corners and protect as many edges as possible from scrapes, as well as defend the shiny metallic bits that abrasive surfaces can scratch.
    • Front cover: The case should include a front cover that reliably triggers the iPad’s magnetic sleep/wake feature when you open or close it and that won’t shift around when shut. The cover must also stay closed when you’re not using the tablet.
    • Stand: The case must provide some sort of stable stand that supports both upright viewing and a lower-angle position for typing.
    • Apple Pencil support: The second-generation Apple Pencil magnetically attaches to the iPad Pro’s right edge; this is how it syncs and charges. We rule out any cases that don’t allow for this connection.
    • Size: The case must be unobtrusive—it should add little weight and not make the tablet hard to hold with one hand as you tap and swipe.
    • Button coverage: We prefer cases that cover the tablet’s side buttons. But since this feature isn’t especially common, we don’t consider it a requirement. (Because the buttons are usually recessed from the outside surface of the case, a lack of full button coverage isn’t a dealbreaker in terms of protection.)

    Once we narrow down a list of competitors, we test each one on both iPad Pro sizes, checking for fit and function.

    The Spigen Tough Armor Pro is a tough TPU case that offers military-grade protection, a built-in kickstand, and an Apple Pencil holder, but Spigen doesn’t specify the drop protection, and the case offers zero protection for the iPad’s screen.

    The Spigen Rugged Armor Pro, another tough military-grade TPU case, offers a cover that folds into a kickstand. The rear portion isn’t as sturdy as on the Tough Armor Pro, however, and we wouldn’t trust it in any drops. While the Rugged Armor Pro’s back is made of TPU, it’s thinner and less sturdy than the TPU of the Tough Armor Pro.

    A budget synthetic-leather option, the DTTO Case offers an Apple Pencil holder and multiple viewing angles, but we didn’t feel confident enough in its sturdiness to try dropping an iPad Pro covered with it.

    The Torro Case is made of beautiful leather and supports multiple viewing angles, and it offers an Apple Pencil holder. Although it’s sturdier than the other leather case we tested, our picks offered more protection.

    OtterBox redesigned its Symmetry Series 360 Case, which has been a pick of ours in years past, for the 2021 and 2022 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models; the iPad Air (4th generation) model remains the same. In place of a flap to hold the Apple Pencil, the case now uses a slide-out mechanism that is conceptually kind of cool but introduces an unnecessarily breakable element.

    Pitaka’s MagEZ Case is made to work in concert with the Apple Magic Keyboard, providing the protection the keyboard accessory lacks. Unlike our picks, this mostly plastic case doesn’t have a lid; it snaps onto the tablet, leaving the screen and the left edge exposed but covering the other edges and the buttons. Across the back is an inlaid panel of aramid, the same fiber used to make Kevlar. Three metal contacts in the rear panel match up with the iPad Pro’s Smart Connector, which is necessary to connect to the Magic Keyboard. It’s nice to have the extra coverage, whether you’re using the keyboard or using the iPad Pro detached from it. But in light of the MagEZ Case’s price tag, we appreciate the concept more than we do the actual product.

    ESR’s Urban Premium Folio Case for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3rd and 4th generations) has a nice fabric exterior that makes it one of the better-looking inexpensive cases we’ve come across. And it includes full edge protection, save for an Apple Pencil cutout. Unfortunately, it lacks any sort of typing angle, and the two viewing angles aren’t very sturdy.

    The Moshi VersaCover for the 11-inch iPad Pro is conceptually similar to the OtterBox Symmetry Series 360 Case. This case has a translucent plastic back, rubber around the edges, and room for the Apple Pencil to sync and charge. The origami-like folding lid offers a portrait-viewing angle in addition to the standard landscape typing and viewing positions. But we found that the case’s corners pop away from the tablet during normal use, which is particularly annoying. Though we don’t think the case will just fall off, you should pick one that stays on better.

    This article was edited by Arthur Gies and Caitlin McGarry.

    Meet your guide

    Roderick Scott is Wirecutter's staff writer reporting on smartphones, tablets, and accessories. He is the former publisher of TechGuySmartBuy, where he reviewed everything from phones to headphones to smart speakers to cars. He is also a former aspiring songwriter, music producer, and A&R working with local talent.

    Further reading

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    Sources


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