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Apple axes older Smart Cases and Smart Covers, leaves only dark gray option available

Ahead of Friday's iPad Air launch, Apple on Thursday quietly discontinued all but one variant of its Smart Case and Smart Cover offerings for older 9.7-inch iPads, with the dark gray version of both remaining as the only option for would-be buyers.

Smart Cover

Apple's Smart Cover for iPad 2. | Source: Apple

With Apple's colorful lineup of Smart Cases and Covers whittled down to a dark gray polyurethane option, current second- through fourth-generation iPad owners who do not yet have an Apple-made case may be out of luck once brick-and-mortar Apple Stores run out of supply on hand. The change was first spotted by iLounge.

Apple still sells the iPad 2, which also fits the cases and covers discontinued on Thursday, meaning those customers looking for an entry-level iPad are now limited to the one color option.

Apple first introduced the Smart Case alongside the iPad 2 in 2011. The wraparound Smart Case debuted as an alternative to third-party protective accessories that cover both the front and back of the iPad.

The covers feature embedded magnets that interface with a hall sensor in the iPad to turn the device on and off when the cover is flipped open and closed. There are also magnets located on the inside of the iPad's chassis to attach the accessories without unsightly hardware.

Both the Smart Case and Smart Cover will live with updated designs for the upcoming iPad Air and iPad mini.