With next-generation technology like a magnetic Smart Connector for Smart Keyboard and support for Apple Pencil, Apple's 9.7-inch iPad Pro marks a new era in portable productivity. To take full advantage of the new features, prospective buyers will want to have cases. Here's a rundown of some of the best options available.
In anticipation of this week's 9.7-inch iPad Pro shipments, AppleInsider rounded up the best cases currently available so you — and your iPad — are covered as soon as you pick up your shiny new tablet.
Designed specifically for iPad Pro, Apple's accessories are traditionally some of the best, offering a high level of fit and finish, as well as features that take full advantage of their products' unique capabilities.
With the "Pro" designation, Apple's latest 9.7-inch iPad comes with a Smart Connector for mating with Smart Keyboard, the company's mobile keyboard solution introduced alongside the 12.9-inch iPad Pro last year. The 9.7-inch version is largely similar to its larger sibling, and incorporates the latest technologies like a conductive fabric for two-way power and data transfer.
Apple's latest Smart Keyboard iteration is smaller to fit the 9.7-inch iPad Pro's form factor. Key pitch is the same and both models share an identical layout, but certain keys, especially the right and left rows, are slightly truncated. Apple also shrunk down Smart Keyboard's command keys, keeping the spacebar large enough for comfortable typing.
Like the Smart Cover that came before, Smart Keyboard is convertible and folds out to form an upright viewing stand (with or without keyboard) or an angled slate-style experience, the latter being perfect for drawing with Apple Pencil.
The 9.7-inch Smart Keyboard is priced at $149.
For the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, Apple is marketing a new version of Smart Cover with a rearranged internal magnetic hinge compatible with Smart Connector. A lightweight outer material hides a magnet that interacts with a sensor in iPad to automatically wakes the display upon opening, or puts it to sleep when closed. A soft microfiber lining protects iPad's screen against scratches.
Smart Cover sells for $49 and comes in 12 colors: white, stone, yellow, apricot, light pink, midnight blue, lavender, lilac, royal blue, mint, charcoal gray and (PRODUCT)RED.
Accompanying Smart Cover is Apple's Silicone Case, which protects iPad Pro's aluminum chassis without adding bulk. The case fits snugly over buttons, but leaves space for attaching a Smart Keyboard or Smart Cover.
Apple's Silicone Case comes in at $69 and is available in all 12 colors mentioned above.
Users in the market for stylish, sleek protection should take a look at what Speck has to offer. The company's StyleFolio is an ultra-thin hardshell case with soft, anti-scratch liner, meaning it's lightweight yet durable. On the outside, StyleFolio is wrapped in vegan leather for easy cleaning, while a closure clasp keeps iPad Pro secure during transport.
StyleFolio is available in a variety of colors, including bright, high resolution patterns. The case sells for $39.95 from Speck's website.
Designed specifically for use with Apple Pencil, the StyleFolio Pencil not only protects iPad Pro with a hard shell, but securely stores Apple's stylus in a specially designed insert. The case also integrates a clever inkwell-style holder to keep Apple Pencil at the ready when in widescreen viewing mode. StyleFolio Pencil is crafted from the same vegan leather as the regular StyleFolio and includes an identical soft interior lining.
Speck is selling StyleFolio Pencil for $59.95 in black/slate gray.
Speck's StyleFolio Luxury Edition swaps out leather for chic finishes like perforated gunmetal and metallic "ponyhair," sure to make your iPad stand out from the crowd. The same StyleFolio design carries over, with a hardshell surround and soft internal liner. Luxury Edition models will be available in April for $44.95.
For the 9.7-Inch iPad Pro, UAG is rolling out a version of its military drop-tested Folio case, which incorporate feather-light construction with a" FrogSkin exterior" for better gripping. The protective folio cover also provides multiple stand positions and a smart wakeup feature. In addition, the cover may be detached to allow for compatibility with Apple's Smart Keyboard and Smart Cover. Each also include an Apple Pencil holder and oversized ports for compatibility with 3rd party cables and accessories. It's available in 3 colors (Black, Cobalt, Magma) for a suggested retail price of $59.95 and will begin shipping shortly from UAG & Amazon.
For Apple's new iPad Pro, Griffin designed the Survivor All-Terrain case to survive drops from up to 6.6 feet and keep out harmful material like dirt, sand and rain. The ruggedized shell features four layers of protection: a foam-lined shatter-resistant polycarbonate frame wrapped in silicone, a built-in screen protector and hinged plugs for iPad Pro's Lightning connector and headphone ports.
In addition, All-Terrain incorporates water-impermeable ports for each of iPad Pro's four speakers and a screen protector fully compatible with Apple's Touch ID fingerprint recognition module. The case also accepts an included clip-on stand for hands-free use.
Griffin's Survivor Slim offers the same drop protection and shatter-resistant technology as the Survivor All-Terrain, but sports a sleeker design better suited for everyday carry. As a bonus, the thin case provides access to iPad Pro's Smart Connector and is fully compatible with Apple's new Smart Keyboard.
Along with a built-in kickstand, the Slim features a clip for storing Apple Pencil and four speaker ports that enhance sound output.
Survivor Slim for 9.7-inch iPad Pro sells for $79.99 through Griffin's website and is available in black and black/blue. Best Buy also has an exclusive chromium green/mineral gray version on sale for the same price.
San Francisco-based WaterField Designs expanded its Peralta women's line with a 9.7-inch iPad Pro sleeve made from water-resistant Luna fabric or ballistic nylon. The product features a leather closure tab with embedded magnets to keep iPad securely nestled in the 6mm neoprene surround. Peralta also built in a leather slot for Apple Pencil, located on the sleeve's back.
Peralta's new 9.7-inch iPad Pro sleeve comes in three color combinations and sells for $79.
For iPad buyers who also purchased an Apple Pencil, WaterField designed a standalone case as part of its Atelier product line. Made of premium leather with heavy stitching, the iPad Pencil Case boasts a generous cover flap that opens up to a soft Ultrasuede liner. On the back, a metal clip lets users attach the case to a strap or iPad case.
WaterField's iPad Pencil Case is priced at $29 from the company's website.
Zagg's popular InvisibleShield line of screen protecting products have also been updated for the new 9.7-inch iPad Pro. Designed with military grade toughness and engineered with the company's trademarked self-healing "Nano-Memory Technology," the cases provide maximum protection from both impact and scratches. And they also come with a limited lifetime warranty if it ever gets damaged.
Zagg's InvisibleShield Glass features durable, high-grade tempered glass with maximum clarity and protection that doesn't distort the image on your iPad Pro. It's available for $49.99.
Also available is the $39.99 InvisibleShield HDX, which offers scratch protection with advanced clarity and three-times shatter protection. It's available starting today.
Zagg's InvisibleShield Original delivers basic scratch protection with the trademarked Nano-Memory Technology, which self-heals from scratches and dings repeatedly. It too is available now, priced at $29.99.
Zagg also has a quartet of keyboard cases in the works for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro, headlined by the Rugged Book, which provides full-body protection. It features a unique, detachable magnetic hinge that allows for use optimized for typing, watching video, protecting the iPad, or using for reading. Its keys are backlit and it sports a two-year battery life. Zagg says it's "coming soon" for $149.99.
Next up is the Zagg Slim Book for $129.99. It's an ultrathin case and keyboard with 135-degree viewing angles, backlit keys, and two-year battery. Less bulky than the Rugged Book, it still offers the same four use modes thanks to the detachable magnetic hinge.
The Zagg Folio provides full-body protection for the 9.7-inch iPad Pro with a thin, compact design. It features responsive, island-style keys and a unique hinge that positions the iPad at virtually any angle for a true laptop-like experience. When it ships soon, it'll be available for $99.99.
Finally, the entry-level Zagg Messenger Folio offers island-style keys for a fast and natural tpying experience. It also has a built-in stand with adjustable viewing angle, priced at $59.99.
A note about iPad Air 2 cases
Though the new iPad Pro has a number of key differences from the iPad Air 2, including a four-speaker array and rear camera bump, it still has the same thickness and form factor. Therefore, depending on the design of certain cases, or what you plan to use your iPad for, you might find more and better options by browsing legacy iPad Air 2 cases.
It should be noted that this only applies to rear cases. The addition of the Smart Connector has changed how the magnets are aligned, and Smart Covers designed for previous iPads will not necessarily work as expected with the 9.7-inch iPad Pro.
To see what's available, see Amazon's full assortment of iPad Air 2-compatible cases.