Why Apple’s Absurdly Expensive iPad Cases Are Totally Worth It

The price hurts, but the case will last for years

  • Apple’s cases offer a unique combination of lightness, design, and longevity.
  • If you want a specialist case, though, go elsewhere.
  • Apple really pays attention to the details and the materials.
An iPad covered with a blue Apple iPad Case.

Daniel Romero / Unsplash

The last thing you want to do after dropping almost $2k on an iPad is to pay another $100 for the case, but if you don't, you might be wasting your money. 

The iPhone and iPad case market is huge, with everything from cheap pink rabbit ears through fancy leather wallet cases to Apple's own Magic Keyboard case for the iPad Pro, for $349. But if you want a case that combines lightness, style, and years-long life, you probably want to opt for Apple's designs. They're expensive, and it will hurt, but in the end, they might just be worth the extra expense. 

"For nearly eight months, I had a silicon case for my iPhone. It lasted a very long time and did not show much wear because the cases are about the right thickness to protect without hiding your phone or making it too heavy to carry, and they fit effortlessly in your pocket," tech entrepreneur and Apple case fan Ryan Faber told Lifewire via email. "Apple's cases continue to look brand-new even after extended periods of heavy use, so you'll spend less money replacing damaged ones."

A Case for the iPad Pro

Before we start, I know Apple’s cases aren’t for everyone. The Smart Folio for iPad Pro, for example, offers zero protection to the iPad’s corners and edges, has nowhere to store an Apple Pencil, and can only prop up the iPad at one Angle, which can be either too steep or too shallow depending on what you want to do. 

There are plenty of rugged, specialized cases which may serve you better. But if you are looking for something minimal that will complement your iPad or iPhone, then Apple has you (literally) covered.

An iPad in a non-Apple case, laying on a soft surface with glasses and an AirPods.

John Onaeko / Unsplash

In Europe, the Smart Folio case for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro costs €125, or $132. It consists of a segmented front and rigid back cover, attaches by magnets, and offers no edge covering. The iPad wakes when you open the front cover, and the front panels can be folded to make a stand. 

When you first see one, you’ll wonder why it costs so much. After all, it’s a few rigid plastic panels, and some magnets, in an ultra-thin rubbery coating. And to be honest, for the first year or so, you’ll wonder why you spent such a fortune for so little material. 

But then it keeps on lasting while other covers rip, disintegrate, or otherwise fail. I used to test gadgets for a living, and I have used more iPhone and iPad cases than any human should ever have to think about in their lifetime, and very few of them last as long as Apple’s designs. 

I bought this expensive Smart Folio when I purchased my iPad Pro in 2018, and only in the last few months has it started to show its age. It lasted well for almost four years, but in the last few months, it has really gone downhill, as you can see in the photo below. The skin is peeling off to show the plastic panels beneath, although structurally, it is still working great. 

An iPad covered by an old iPad case that's still functional, but looks rough.

Lifewire / Charlie Sorrel

Apple’s iPhone cases are equally long-lasting. The leather and silicon models both outlast rivals, and the leather ones seem like a waste because they keep getting better with age and will outlast your iPhone. 

But the other killer feature of Apple’s cases is something they do not have: weight. Try to find an inexpensive alternative to Apple’s iPhone and iPad cases—especially the iPad cases—that weighs as little, and you will come up short. For the iPad mini, a heavy case can ruin its ultra-light aspect, and for the iPad Pro, a heavy case can make it unbearably weighty. 

How does Apple manage this when other case makers can’t or don’t? My guess is that Apple just cares more. It is obsessed with building high-quality hardware and that includes accessories. Combine that with great manufacturing know-how, materials expertise, and the knowledge that it can afford to spend a little extra when its case retail for so much, and you have a hard-to-beat combo. 

“Apple designs their products with an emphasis on quality, taking into account factors like the types of materials used, the construction process, and design features,” gadget reviewer Talha Younas told Lifewire via email. 

So, will I replace my peeling case with another one? Probably. Although I definitely won’t enjoy spending $100 for a sheet of plastic any more than I did four years ago.

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