By Nate Adcock on Thu, 04/25/2013
Some iPad mini cases are designed for hiking up the side of a mountain, some even for diving into the sea. A fine leather case is something else altogether. MAPi Cases makes fine leather cases for the iPhone, iPad, and iPad mini, and I have been lucky enough to receive one of its Orion Leather Smart Cases ($150) for review. The Orion's excellent material, design, and construction all come together to make a top quality leather case and stand combined!
The Orion is made from 100 percent cowhide leather. Available in four colors, the case features a snap on flap, allowing you to quickly and easily insert and secure your iPad mini. In the past, I have been turned off to leather or folio-style cases due to poor fit. Such cases often use some kind of neoprene or stretchy material on the sides, causing the unit to slide around somewhat. The Orion did not have this problem.
The Orion fits perfectly, and my iPad mini feels snug and secure. The sides of the case are sewed-in cowhide, and though the iPad corners are exposed (another reason many leather cases are not my favorite), I'd say the precise fit still offers some protection for minor drops. Leather, however is probably not the material of choice for protection.
The Orion is not just a beautiful leather case, however. It also is a smart cover/stand that can swivel your iPad mini into different viewing and screen-input angles. I have a minor gripe with smart cover magnets, which do not sit flush on the device's side. It's a small complaint with the Orion, as the magnets protrude a bit through the material on the front (see below), but don't really interfere with use.
The smart cover works well, and when folded up in stand mode (in either orientation) feels at least two times as sturdy as the typical smart cover/stand. The main difference it that the Mapi cover folds over the unit from top to bottom (instead of side-to-side), and thus has an extra flap to give it more strength when folded.
Including a swivel on the cover was a minor stroke of genius. Not only does it elevate the iPad nicely in landscape orientation, but makes it possible to switch back and forth with a quick turn of the swivel. A couple of other minor points to mention are that most of the mini's ports and camera lens are decently exposed (though applying the cover to the screen does block the Lightning connector). Docking to anything could be a problem unless you rotate the cover to the other end (the swivel will rotate the smart cover in any direction). Another tiny gripe would be that the volume controls along the side are not as easily accessible as in a form-fitting case. It might help if the vendor added a small cutout in that area, but admittedly would mar the symmetry of the case.
The MAPi Orion is an outstanding case that I highly recommend, but the retail price is somewhat steep. The stylish and attractive design makes it a winner, so if you are looking for quality to cover your iPad mini in, it is a great choice. MAPi also features leather case products for iPhone as well. All are similarly attractive, and if you want a good product, just remember sometimes it is worth it to pay a bit more. You can check out the company's full line of cases for iPad and iPhone at mapicases.com.
Superior material and design;
Flexible case and stand;
Corners exposed to damage.