Orbino miniPadova Review; a Most Exquisite Leather iPad mini Case

Orbino miniPadova

Orbino miniPadova for the iPad mini

I wasn’t sure if the iPad mini was going to be able to replace my 3rd generation iPad, so I initially held off on any major accessory purchases. But within only a few days of owning one, I realized that because of the mini’s smaller size and lighter weight, I was carrying it with me everywhere. That wasn’t something I could have said about the iPads I’d previously owned, and that’s when I knew it was time to seriously think about accessories and how to best equip my mini.

As I began my hunt, it seemed obvious that I should look for mini-sized versions of the cases I had most loved on my full-size iPads, which is how I eventually found myself on the  Orbino miniPadova sales page. I was no stranger to Orbino Padova; I had inherited Dan’s Orbino Padova first generation case which started this whole obsession, and then for my 44th birthday I received a fabulous custom crocodile Padova case that I used with both my second and third generation iPads.

Side note: When I upgraded to the iPad 2 my mother inherited the first gen Padova, and she absolutely loved it. When she upgraded to the iPad 3, I caught her eye-balling my crocodile case on more than one occasion. When I was sure that I was going to use the iPad mini rather than a full-sized iPad, I made her day when I let her have my gently used crocodile Padova. I’m not going to lie … I still miss that case. 

There is no doubt in my mind that Orbino makes some of the finest leather iPad cases available anywhere … but that quality does come at a price, and it can take a little while to work yourself up into making the leap. I debated placing my order for several months; I kept thinking that some other case would come along, and that I would be just as happy with it, but that didn’t happen. I missed the Padova’s flip-top notepad styling, the way the leather smelled, how thin yet protected my iPad felt inside the case, and I missed the feel of the Padova’s rear hand-stitching on my fingers when holding my iPad.  I wasn’t obsessing over having an Orbino miniPadova, or anything … really!

And then I finally figured it was time to just suck it up and order one, and so once again I went to the site and took a look at my options …

Orbino miniPadova

Orbino miniPadova colors and leathers

The plain leather cases are $209, and the exotic skins are either $569 for ostrich or $689 for crocodile. Ouch, right? Those are the same prices as a full size iPad Padova case, and that seemed a little harsh. Even so, I went with the Brown Tuscan, and I placed my order — fully expecting to be told that it would take four to six weeks for it to be hand-assembled and shipped. I was blown away when my case arrived within only a week or so; this was a huge, welcome difference from past orders Dan had placed.

Orbino miniPadova

Everything about the Orbino miniPadova was as expected: the leather was exquisite, the craftsmanship was impeccable, and the case fit my mini like the custom creation it was. Cutouts were perfectly placed, and I had easy access to the camera, charging ports, and everything else. Worth noting is that the edges of the holster that holds the mini do not come all the way to the edge of the screen, which means there is no ‘hit or miss’ when trying to slide an app from one screen to another; this is a good thing.

Orbino miniPadova

The iPad mini slides into the Orbino miniPadova from the top; friction between the suede-like interior leather and the mini keeps everything protected and in place. A silver-colored metal hinge allows the cover to lie nearly flat on the back of the iPad when the case is open, similar to the way a notepad would.

Orbino miniPadova

The back of the case comes up a bit higher than the top edge of the iPad, which will provide corner protection should that be the end that hits first in a drop; the two bottom corners and both sides of the case are completely covered in leather.

Orbino miniPadova

The way that you access the mute/screen orientation switch and the volume buttons is pretty clever; there is a just big enough cutout around the switch so that you can slide a nail in and switch it which ever way you want to go. There are holes precisely placed over where there two volume buttons are; pressing on the holes activates the buttons every time.

Orbino miniPadova

Orbino has always used a metal rivet for the iPad’s home button, but the miniPadova has a newer style that looks even more refined. It doesn’t take much of a press to activate the button, and I love the flash of silver.

Orbino miniPadova

All of the seams on the Orbino miniPadova are stitched; if any glue is used anywhere, it is not obvious. Magnets in the cover keep the Padova securely closed, and they also serve to wake the screen when the cover is lifted. Those same magnets do turn off the screen when the cover is closed … most of the time. When I first received the miniPadova, lifting and closing the cover would activate the screen light trigger perfectly every time. While lifting does turn on the mini 90% of the time now, it doesn’t always turn the screen off, and I’m not sure why. I’m more or less in the habit of hitting the power button when I turn off my mini anyway (from the early days of carrying the mini without a case), so it’s not a huge issue for me. :shrug:

Orbino miniPadova

This is the hand stitching I was telling you about. Each Padova case is hand assembled, and the waxed thread they use to hold the front and back of the case together not only gives the case visual appeal, but it also gives your fingers a pleasing thing to rub against when holding the Orbino miniPadova.

Orbino miniPadova

There is a silver colored metal clip included that can be inserted in the slot on the rear of the case; it serves as a belt-clip, although I could never imagine carrying the mini in this manner. It can also be used as a desk stand when the iPad is in vertical or horizontal position.

Orbino Pantera Cinque iPhone 5 Case

The Orbino clip/stand.

I didn’t want to stretch out the slots on the back of my case, so I didn’t insert the clip (I never use it). You can see how it works in this picture from Dan’s and my original Padova for iPad review. You can also see how the case cover functions as a stand for landscape and portrait viewing in that review; this is very handy for those who use a Bluetooth keyboard with their mini. One of the interesting things about reading Dan’s and my original review is seeing how the Padova design has been refined over the years: Glue is no longer used on the bottom of the case, there is no longer an issue with magnets and the 4G radio or compass, there are no issues when moving apps from screen to screen, the iPad does not need to be removed from the case to slide the orientation/mute switch, and ordering time is completely reasonable. I don’t have a single complaint about the case, other than the fact that it cost the same price as the case for the full-size iPad; that just seems wrong.

I have had the Orbino miniPadova for several weeks, and every time I pick it up, I am reminded of how much I like it and how glad I am that I placed its order. I can think of plenty of accessories that have lost their lustre for me over time, but the Padova iPad cases have never. These cases are beautiful, protective, and they hold up through real usage.

The Orbino Padova Mini is available directly from the manufacturer. You can learn more about these handmade leather cases or begin the order process by clicking  here.

MSRP: Plain leather cases are $209; exotic skins are either $569 for ostrich or $689 for crocodile.

What I Like: Absolutely gorgeous leather in a note-pad style case; beautiful hand-assembled leather; does not add a lot of weight or bulk to the iPad mini; the case cover can be used to stand the iPad mini in portrait or landscape orientation; truly one of the finest leather cases available at any price

What Needs Improvement: The magnetized cover does not always turn the screen off when closed; it seems like the price should be a little bit less for the miniPadova than it is for the full-size Padova, but alas …

Source: Personal Purchase

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct smaller.com; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.

8 Comments on "Orbino miniPadova Review; a Most Exquisite Leather iPad mini Case"

  1. Too bad you can’t get one of these to giveaway, I like it but well out of my price range.

  2. Yeah, I agree that it would be an amazing item to do a giveaway with! =)

  3. But, and correct me if I am wrong Judie, even this case was not a review sample but something you had to purchase. Correct?

    Dan Cohen
    Co-Owner/Senior Editor
    Gear Diary

  4. Yeah, and I agonized about it. But in the end I justified it by taking a gamble that the next iPad mini I buy (a retina version next month? yes, please!) will have the same or similar form factor to the current one, so I would be able to keep using it. If the retina mini’s size (assuming there really is one) winds up being much different and the case won’t fit, then I will be extremely bummed. =/

  5. But t is a safe bet since Apple seems to keep the same form factor for two cycles. But wow if they do another mini so soon.

  6. *whistling* I’m in love! 😉

  7. Toni, this case is a large part of the reason I am loathe to do other iPad mini case reviews: nothing else compares! The Orbino miniPadova is holding up beautifully, and I absolutely love using it! =)

  8. Ahhh, Judie, I bet it is beyond compare! I’ve almost saved up enough cash for a WiFi + cellular iPad mini to work on my website with while my son is in therapy, so I am of course looking for brilliant cases. This one is stunning and upon first look I gasped at the price, but like all other drool-worthy items that I fall in love with, my tech lust will prevail and I’ll indubitably shell out the dough for this someday! In the meantime, enjoy your Orbino for me, would ya? ;D

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