Rounding up the newest protective cases & keyboards for your iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3
Though Apple's iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 just launched this week and many protective cases have yet to hit the market, there are still a handful of early case options available for purchase in addition to Apple's. Here are some of the first options available to protect your brand new iPad.
Belkin QODE keyboards & covers
Belkin has a whole array of keyboards and covers for the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 ready to go for the holidays. Most notably, its three QODE keyboards are thin and lightweight folios designed for both new iPad models.
The QODE Ultimate Pro Keyboard and QODE Ultimate Keyboard are iPad Air 2-specific models, featuring aircraft-grade aluminum. The "Pro" model features an improved key layout and backlit keys with three brightness levels, and will sell for $150, while the base model runs $130. Both are said to ship in December.
Belkin also continues to offer the QODE Slim Style Keyboard, which the company says is compatible with both the iPad Air 2 and iPad Air. It retails for $79.99, but can be found for $47 at Amazon, and unlike the new QODE models that are yet to ship, this one is currently available.
In addition, Belkin still offers folio-style covers that it says fit the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. They include the Slim Style Case/Cover for all iPad mini models, as well as a Slim Style Case/Cover that fits both the iPad Air 2 and iPad Air.
Kensington KeyFolio Thin X2 iPad Air 2 Bluetooth Keyboard Case
Meanwhile, Kensington has announced its KeyFolio Thin X2 iPad Air 2 Bluetooth Keyboard Case in 3 styles: standard ($89.99), PowerLift with battery to charge your iPhone ($99.99), and Blacklit with white LED key lighting for easy typing in darkened conditions ($99.99). Each are expected to begin shipping next month and are available for pre-order.
Buyers who prefer a little more customization will find it at Casetify, a company that lets you print Instagram photos onto 2.5-millimeter thin snap-style iPad cases. If your Instagram account isn't up to snuff, Casetify also allows you to choose from a variety of pre-made designs. Although the company has yet to roll out its redesigned iPad Air 2 covers, it continues to offer customization for iPad mini with Retina covers, which are compatible with the new iPad mini 3.
Exclusive Discount: AI readers save 10% on all Casetify orders when using this link and applying coupon code APPINSIDER at checkout.
WaterField Designs Outback Slip Case
If you're just looking for a case to carry your iPad rather than keep it covered at all times, consider the WaterField Designs Outback Slip Cases for iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. These are made out of natural, rugged waxed canvas and premium, naturally tanned leather.
The sporty carrying cases are designed for both personal or casual work use, and feature a softly padded interior and rigid plastic insert for extra protection. The cases also feature a magnetically secured leather strap to keep the iPad in place, as well as a lower "grab tab" that allows users to easily remove the iPad.
The bags are made in San Francisco, and sell for $59 for the iPad mini 3, and $69 for the iPad Air 2. The snug cases are designed for "naked" iPad use, as well as iPads with Apple Smart Covers attached.
X-Doria Engage Folio and SmartStyle
X-Doria has a series of new cases redesigned for the iPad Air 2, starting with its $39.99 SmartStyle model, which features a durable waxed canvas cover that wraps from front to back. It also features an elastic band that holds the cover shut, and integrated stand functionality that folds into an upright position for typing.
The Engage Folio for iPad Air 2 runs $34.99, and has a hard polycarbonate back to protect the iPad. The look of the iPad can still be seen, however, thanks to an anti-scratch coating. Both it and the SmartStyle feature magnets that automatically wake and sleep the iPad.
ClamCase has redesigned its keyboard case for the iPad Air 2, offering compatibility with Apple's new, slimmer design. The company is also planning to sell a "Special Edition Gold" version to match the new gold iPad Air.
In addition, a gold version of the smaller ClamCase for iPad mini 3 is also available. ClamCase is banking on enterprise customers drawn to the new Touch ID fingerprint-based security who want physical keyboards for getting work done.
ClamCase features a 360-degree hinge, a lightweight and low-profile design, and is made of polycarbonate and anodized aluminum.
Interested customers can provide their email address to ClamCase in order to be notified when the new models are available. Prices have not yet been announced.
Griffin Slim Air Folio
Griffin carries over its Slim Air Folio case from last year with compatibility for the iPad Air 2. The case is a folding design with a hard front cover and soft interior lining for protection against bumps and scratches.
Cutouts in the material give easy access to physical buttons, ports and the rear-facing iSight camera. Like other cases in the roundup, the Slim Air Folio converts into a stand for propping the iPad up in both landscape and portrait orientations by flipping over the bifold cover and securing it with a special flap integrated into the case back.
The Slim Air Folio costs $29.99 and comes in black, blue and red from Griffin's website.
An iPad mini 3 version of the same case can be had for a deep discount on Amazon, priced at only $7.99.
For minimalists, KAYSCASE offers a super slim thermoplastic-polyurethane (TPU) back case for iPad Air 2 to protect against minor scuffs and bumps. The top portion of the molded shell extends beyond the screen to prevent damage when dropped, while the soft material absorbs shocks.
The case is designed with cutout for physical controls and a space for attaching Apple's Smart Cover.
Pad & Quill
For those seeking a higher-end option, longtime bespoke case maker Pad & Quill is rolling out a new Contega model crafted specifically for the latest iPads. Handmade from birch, the Contega Linen is 22 percent thinner than the same case made for iPad Air last year, but features the firm's strongest wood cradle yet.
Fashioned to look like a book, the exterior is wrapped in tough buckram cloth with a flip-cover sporting multiple grooves for propping up the iPad at different viewing angles. Inside is Pad & Quill's usual cloth bindery and rubberized pads to hold the device in place without straps or harnesses.
Special channels in the wooden cradle reflect sound toward the user, while magnets embedded in the cover support iPad's automatic wake/sleep function. Finally, a porthole milled into the case back allows camera access.
The Contega Linen comes out in mid-November for $99.99 and is being offered in cranberry linen with slate gray interior or gray tweed with deep blue interior. An iPad mini 3 version is out now for $89.99 in the same color patterns.
Pad & Quill is also revamping the Walden series for both iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 with a simplistic flip-cover design and simulated leather wrap. Instead of a wood cradle, the Walden holds onto the iPad with a clean release grip made by 3M that can be washed and reused.
Walden is similar to a Moleskine notebook in that both sport a minimalist hard cover with elastic band closure.
Both Walden models are priced at $49.99, though the iPad Air 2 version is slated to ship in November. The iPad mini 3 model is available now.
At the top end, Pad & Quill offers the Aria, a full-grain leather case with birch wood cradle, Sure-Lock device grips, magnetic sleep/wake switch and bifold design for laptop use. Like the Contega, the Aria's frame is 22 percent thinner and features routed channels for optimal sound flow.
The handmade Aria comes in dark chocolate and whiskey brown colors and will cost $129.99 when it ships in late November.
Finally, Targus has listed a number of new cases on Amazon for Pre-Order, which are expected to begin shipping in 2-4 weeks. Among them are the Targus 3D Protection Case and Stand for iPad Air 2 ($39.99), Targus Vustyle Case with Customizable Viewing Angles for iPad Air 2 ($39.99), Targus Geo Foliostand Case and Stand for iPad Air 2 ($34.99), and Targus MediaVu Sound-Enhancing Case and Stand for iPad Air 2 ($39.99).
Readers looking for a recent roundup of available case options for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus can see our earlier roundup. Both roundups will be updated as new cases become available on the market.