Spigen SGP iPad Mini Hardbook Case Review

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My iPad mini goes pretty much everywhere with me these days. And while it is true that I had my 9.7″ iPad with me much of the time previously, thanks to its smaller size and reduced weight I don’t think I have left the iPad mini behind a single time since it arrived. Yeah, I like it that much. That, however, means the iPad mini is seeing a lot of use. And THAT means it is more important than ever to keep my tablet well-protected. Thusfar I’ve been using the Bodyguardz Sentinel as my go-to case. (Read the review.) It is fairly thin, doesn’t add much bulk and it feels good to carry and hold. That does not, however, mean I’m not on the lookout for a case that will replace it as my “daily driver”. Does the Spigen SGP iPad Mini Hardbook Case have what it takes to replace the Sentinel? Read on to find out.

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From Spigen SGP:

Hardbook Series is a premium hardcover bookbinding style case for iPad Mini. The bookbinding style of the Hardbook Series disguises your iPad by appearing as a luxurious book. The iPad Mini is securely enclosed in a plastic hard shell that keeps the device secure for added protection. The Hardbook Series for the new iPad Mini is available in 4 colors and is made with synthetic leather.

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Non-slip Fabric- While preserving the soft texture of leather, this product uses a soft non-slip fabric material inside, providing a comfortable viewing or typing angle.This product allows for a comfortable typing and viewing angle when watching videos or running applications.

Automatic ON/OFF- HARDBOOK Case is designed to function like the Apple Smart Cover.
It features embedded magnetics to automatically trigger the Sleep/Awake function when opening or closing the cover.

When you first remove the iPad Mini Hardbook Case from its box you cannot help but be impressed by the case’s elegant simplicity. It feels just like a hardcover book whose pages have been removed. The front has the name Spigen subtly embossed on the lower right hand corner. The back has a smaller embossed name. This time it is horizontal rather than vertical. There is, as you can see, a cutout for the iPad mini’s 5MP rear camera.

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Flipping the case open reveals an equally impressive leve of simplicity. While the Bodyguardz Sentinel has slots on the inside of the front cover that can serve as a wallet-replacement, the iPad Mini Hardbook Case has nothing but a small raised medallion. More on that in a moment.

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And while the Bodyguardz Sentinel held the iPad mini in place using a thin frame of material behind which the iPad slides, the iPad mini Hardbook Case uses a thin plastic tray into which the iPad clips. It is similar to the simple back shells like the Incipio Feather we have seen in use since the first iPad was released. The resulting difference is that the Sentinel has three layers of material when closed while the Hardbook Case is just two.

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Translation– when it comes to minimalism the Spigen SGP iPad Mini Hardbook Case wins out over the Bodyguardz Sentinel.

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Because the iPad mini is held in the Hardbook Case right along its edges, the entire face of the iPad mini remains unobscured. That’s something that is nice both in terms of elegance and functionality since you get to see and access every last bit of the “smaller but still quite generous” screen on the new, diminutive iPad.

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When you close the cover you basically get the iPad mini sandwiched between to layers of “faux leather” that looks and feels much nicer than you might otherwise expect. And because the cover it quite rigid you know the iPad it well-protected!

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The cutout for the camera is quite precise. It is just large enough to allow the camera to grab a shot without the case getting in the way. Obviously there is no need for a larger hole since, like the larger iPad, the iPad mini lacks the flash and extra microphone found on the back of the iPhone 5.

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And that little oval of material sewn into the front cover of the Hardbook Case? It isn’t there as a decorative feature.

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No, it serves as the “locking mechanism” that allows the iPad to sit in a decent landscape viewing angle.

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As you might have figured out, the Hardbook Case doesn’t offer a typing mode. For that you’ll have to prop the iPad mini up against something. It doesn’t pose a huge inconvenience but it is worth noting.

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The Spigen SGP iPad Mini Hardbook Case is about as minimal a case as you are going to find short of going without a case. Consisting of just a front and back cover wrapped around a hard plastic shell that clips around the iPad, it is one of, if not the simplest, iPad mini case design one could imagine. And while I was able to secure my iPad mini into the plastic shell despite having a protective film covering the tablet’s back, I suspect, a naked iPad would be an even better fit.

The Spigen SGP iPad Mini Hardbook Case is both simple and elegant. It looks like a book. It feels like a book. And it is under $40. That is impressive. And while it definitely has earned a spot in my iPad mini case rotation I’m sticking with the Bodyguardz Sentinel. It is a bit less refined but I have gotten used to the added functionality of a two-position stand and the storage embedded in the front cover.

You can learn more, check out the various colors and order yours here on the Spigen SGP website.

MSRP: $39.95

What I Like: Simple; Refined; Good protection; Sleep awake functionality built in; Offers unobstructed access to the entire iPad screen; Accurate cutout for the rear camera

What Needs Improvement: Just one stand position; Not extra storage

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.