Not too long ago, I took a look at the composite case for my 12-inch MacBook from Urban Armor Gear. Now UAG has been kind enough so send a sample of their case for the iPad Pro. While similar in many ways, the UAG iPad Pro Case has some features unique to it.
The case has a rubberized shell, similar to the corner material found on their MacBook case, but it adds a 5-position kickstand and a pencil holder into the mix, making for a very interesting offering.
When I reviewed the MacBook case, I was extremely sensitive to the additional weight and/or bulk the case added, and similarly I was concerned about their offering for the iPad Pro. The UAG website refers to the case as “Feather Light”, although I’m not sure I’d completely agree with that. Make no mistake, this case does add some noticeable bulk and weight to the iPad Pro. I’m guessing that part of the reason for this is the addition of the kickstand into the equation. This will add some nice functionality for some folks, but may be not terribly useful for others, for a reason I’ll go into shortly.
As with the MacBook case, this case does feel like it adds a good amount of protection for the iPad Pro, but, of course, I’m not going to drop my personal device to test, but again it does feel like it adds a reasonable amount of protection. The literature says it meets military drop standards (MIL STD 810G-516.6), and I have no reason to doubt that.
One very cool feature of this case is the inclusion of a clip for the Apple Pencil. I really like this! Although the position isn’t completely ideal for me because it’s positioned almost behind the case which makes the case a bit awkward to hold in portrait mode, it still can be incredibly handy to have the pencil firmly attached to the iPad Pro when I throw it into my backpack. It fills a gap that’s been left unaddressed in other cases I’ve seen (to date) and UAG gets some points from me for adding it to their case.
So again, although I really like the pencil clip in theory, the position UAG chose is not ideal for me. I use the iPad Pro a fair amount in portrait mode, so I want to hold it where the pencil is. As I mentioned before, the clip is skewed toward the back of the case which makes kind of awkward for me to hold the iPad Pro is portrait mode. For me, I would have preferred the clip be on the left side of the screen (when in landscape mode), between the 2 speaker openings and centered on the edge, not pushed toward the backside of the case. I realize, however that this might not be completely ideal for people who mostly use the device in landscape mode. Overall, I suspect the clip position was a matter of compromises which will work well for some people and not quite as well for others.
So let’s talk about the kickstand. On one hand it’s really cool that they included a 5-position kickstand that gives you a nice set of choices for positioning the screen. On the other hand, it adds some bulk to the case in terms of thickness and weight. Unfortunately, if you are going to use your Apple Smart Keyboard, the kickstand becomes basically useless. That isn’t UAG’s fault, of course, but it means that if you have the keyboard, the kickstand is totally unusable: dead weight.
It’s also important to point out that the kickstand will only work with the iPad Pro in landscape mode. It doesn’t have any mechanism for rotating or spinning, so there’s no support for portrait mode. As I mentioned before, I do have a need to sometimes use the iPad Pro in portrait mode, so in general, I would have liked more support for this orientation.
I should also point out, that in order to use the case with the Apple Smart Keyboard, you have to remove a plastic piece from the UAG case. This is a little awkward, and the remaining opening tends to flex (a little more rigidity there would have helped the flexing and the piece removal). That part also flexes open when you are using the kickstand (when the Apple keyboard isn’t present). I’m not happy with the gap that appears between the case and the iPad Pro when the kickstand is in use.
Additionally, there are a couple other of places, like around the volume buttons, where the case is thinner and flexes a bit. The case also wants to pull slightly away from the edge of the iPad Pro when I am holding it. I don’t have the same issue with Apple’s own case which has a little more rigidity, so it may just be a factor of the materials used in the UAG case, but overall I felt the fit could have been a little better and tighter, with not so much flex and movement against (or away from) the iPad Pro.
In preparing this review, I also went out to see what other reviewers were saying about this case and I was surprised that almost no one else really mentioned the flexing, or the pencil clip placement, or even the fact that the kickstand becomes pointless if you have an Apple Smart Keyboard. It appeared that many of the reviewers didn’t even try to use the case with the pencil or the keyboard in place, something I found disappointing.
Despite my concerns, I do like this case, but it really is an exercise in compromises. For me, the compromises aren’t completely in alignment with my needs and the way I use the iPad Pro. If you mostly use it in landscape mode, you will be fine. If you use it in portrait mode, you might be sometimes challenged by the placement of the pencil clip. If you have the Apple Smart keyboard you might be disappointed by the fact that using it kind of negates your ability to use the kickstand. Again, however, if you primarily use a Bluetooth keyboard (or no keyboard) and use the device in landscape mode, you’ll likely be reasonably satisfied with this case. And let’s not forget the fact that it’s one of the only options out there that remembers a place for the Apple Pencil!
So although it’s not everything I’m looking for in an iPad Pro case, I can still give a qualified recommendation of this case assuming it fits in with the way you want to use your iPad. Personally, I’d really like to see is a “light” version of this case that shed a little weight by eliminating the kickstand and made the overall fit a bit tighter, reinforcing some of the thin and flexible spots. If they did that and moved the pencil clip slightly, the case would be nearly perfect for me!
UAG Composite Cases for iPad Pro are available here!
Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample
What I Like: Allows for the use of the Apple Smart Keyboard; Includes a clip for the Apple Pencil.
What Needs Improvement: The position of the Pencil clip is a little awkward when holding the iPad Pro in portrait mode; a little heavy for my taste and the aluminum kickstand is useless weight if you are using the Smart Keyboard; the overall fit of the case could be a little bit tighter and better.