Speck Smartshell Plus for 9.7” iPad Pro Hits the Sweet Spot

The right case for your mobile device is a key part of maximizing its usefulness. In the case of my 9.7” iPad Pro that is especially true. It goes everywhere with me and I use it all the time. Thankfully, I finally found the right balance with the Speck Smartshell Plus for 9.7” iPad Pro and the Apple Smart Keyboard.

The case is thin, light but extremely protective. More than that, because it is designed to work with Apple’s Smartkeyboard, it works seemlessly with a keyboard cover that not only protects the iPad’s screen but also converts into a keyboard with stand.

And while the Smartkeyboard isn’t the best keyboard I have used for the iPad Pro, (after all, the keyboard is okay at best and it only offers one viewing angle,) in combination with the Speck Smartshell Plus it is actually pretty awesome.

The case is designed to be, “slim, practical and strong, SmartShell Plus for 9.7-inch iPad Pro is a clear iPad case designed to make an impact -and take one.” And while the case does indeed let you see the iPad through it, if you don’t want a case that is completely clear you can also get it in Onyx Black.

What I like about this case is the fact that it was designed specifically to work with Apple’s various covers.

That means if I don’t want the added bulk of the Smart Keyboard- not that it adds all that much bulk- the case will work with Apple’s Smart Cover too. In both cases, however, the Smartshell Plus will do a fantastic job of protecting your pricey Apple tablet. That’s because despite the simple appearance of the case it is actually somewhat complex in its design. As Speck explains:

Built upon Speck’s patented and trusted dual-layer design, a slim yet hard outer shell with a soft co-molded inner perimeter protects against impact and absorbs shock in key impact zones. Like all of our products, this clear iPad case has been lab-tested against extreme temperatures, cracks, chemicals, and abrasions.

The case features:

  • Compatible with and complements both the Apple Smart Keyboard and Smart Cover
  • Available in Clear and Onyx Black to showcase the new 9.7” iPad Pro in all its colors.
  • Slim and ultra durable.
  • A sleek and tough outer shell with strategic dual layer perimeter protects against impact and absorbs shock in key zones.


It also happens to work with Logitech awesome Logi BASE and its awesome design that takes advantage of the iPad’s Smart Connection. (Read my review here.) That means you can pull off whichever Apple cover you are using and place the iPad into the Logo BASE for charging and, if you so choose, use with a Bluetooth keyboard to create a desktop-like use scenario with you iPad.

I resisted getting the Apple Smart Keyboard and, instead, used a variety of other keyboard cases. I really like those keyboards. I do not, however, like the amount of bulk and weight they all add to the iPad. When the Speck Smartcase Pro arrived for review I broke down and got a Smart Keyboard. I really like the combination. It lets me keep my iPad protected when I am not using it, keeps a keyboard available at all times, and sets up and breaks down in seconds.

And the keyboard case can be pulled off the iPad when you want to use the tablet as a slate tablet but still want it protected. For me it hits a sweet spot that I had didn’t even realize I was missing. I’m a fan.

The case is $59.95 and comes with a 1 Year Warranty and a 30-Day Unconditional Guarantee.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Simple but protective; Works with Apple’s Smart Cover and Smart Keyboard; Let’s the color of the iPad come through

What Needs Improvement: For something this simple it is on the pricey side AND to really use it effectively you also need to purchase one of Apple’s covers

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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.