Mini cases, Maximum Protection: The best rugged iPad mini cases in review [Roundup]



Holiday buying guide. Rugged iPad mini cases

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Welcome to my review of the top three rugged cases for the iPad mini that are available to purchase now. While there aren't a ton of heavy-duty case options out there yet for the recently unveiled iPad mini, there are a few excellent choices. This is a roundup of the top three, extreme-duty, rugged cases available for you to pick up for the new iPad mini right away, with no delay! With Black Friday and the official start of the holiday season this week, what better time!?


The iPad mini may be the new kid on the block but it’s already selling like hotcakes and I expect it to be at the top of many a holiday wish list. Every good boy and girl deserves a good protective case for their new iPad mini, especially considering how infinitely more portable the mini is than its larger sibling. Since we will be seeing more iPads out in the wild now than ever before let's take a look at some of the best of the best of heavy-duty, extra-protective cases built to keep our iPad minis safe from harm, no matter where the roads may take us.


Holiday buying guide. Rugged iPad mini cases



Otterbox Defender


Holiday buying guide. Rugged iPad mini cases


Perhaps one of the most recognized names in rugged iDevice case protection is Otterbox. For years they have been setting a high standard for heavy-duty iDevice protection and their latest entry is no different.


Holiday buying guide. Rugged iPad mini cases


The Otterbox for the iPad mini was my first choice as a line of defense when I got my new mini, and for good reason! I beat the hell out of my devices and the fact that my mini is cellular enabled only means it is more likely to be abused in the field. Already the Otterbox Defender has saved my mini from certain disaster when my iPad slipped from my gloved hand and bounced harmlessly on the red rocks of Sedona where I often play.


The Otterbox Defender provides some of the best all around protection you can get for the iPad mini. I would've liked to see the introduction of the thin, water-resistant membranes over the speakers and mics that are becoming more and more popular in rugged cases since they greatly increase the dirt, dust and debris protection factor, but even without that detail, the Otterbox is still at the top of my list.


Holiday buying guide. Rugged iPad mini cases

Otterbox Defender for iPad mini, seen here with it's screen cover snapped on back.


Like its cousin cases for the iPhone 5 and the iPad 2 and 4, the Otterbox for the iPad mini incorporates the rigid, shatterproof internal skeleton, overlaid with a dense, ultra-tough, rubber skin than not only helps absorb any shock, but also seals the ports of the Lightning connector and the headphone jack and the rotation lock switch. As has become standard with the Otterbox case, it includes a built-in clear, plastic screen protection which I love, since I practically refuse to use my iPad without some kind of screen guard, but if you are one of the ones who doesn't care for a built in screen protector, then it isn't that hard to modify the case and remove the screen protection. Of course, you do so at your own risk. The Defender also affords even more iPad screen protection with its high edged bevel that goes around the perimeter of the touchscreen keeping the screen even more protected when those inevitable inadvertent drops do happen along.


One of the features of the Otterbox Defender that pushes it to the top of a short list is its removable case cover/display stand. The hard plastic cover allows for multiple uses and is very practical. First you can easily clip the cover onto the front of you iPad mini to protect your screen when you toss it into a backpack or messenger bag, and when not in use, you can either remove completely or unobtrusively snap in place onto the back of the iPad. You can also use the same cover as a viewing/typing stand for the mini thanks to a low profile but sturdy fold out prop hinge embedded in the cover.


Holiday buying guide. Rugged iPad mini cases


The Otterbox Defender is one of my top choices for comprehensive iPad mini protection, and it is perfect for anyone who could use maximum protection with a minimum of bulk. I highly recommend it, especially if kids (both young and old) are in the equation. It’s available HERE for $70.00.





Griffin Survivor


The Griffin Survivor for the iPad mini is without a doubt, one of the best extreme-protection, rugged-use iPad mini case on the market right now. This case is masterpiece of design and functionality and for the best protection for a new iPad mini, you couldn't go wrong with this Military-duty Hummer of a case. In terms of maximum protection offered, the Griffin Survivor is one of the surest and safest options you could choose. Griffin is tested under extreme conditions and is certified ready for Military action, meaning that it’s passed rigorous tests of vibration, 6-foot drops, impact, dust and water exposure, compression, and more.


With its integrated screen protector (which also covers the front-facing camera, adding even more protection from liquid and debris!), knobby, grippy contours and subtle textures to help add traction, the Griffin Survivor will have your iPad mini safe and secure come what may.


Holiday buying guide. Rugged iPad mini cases


One of my favorite things about this great case is the way it seals up so well and thoroughly, a quality that makes the Survivor one of the most well-rounded and complete protection, ruggedized case options available for the iPad mini as of this writing. Along with durable rubber flaps over the charging port and headphone jack, the Survivor has a swing down flap that covers the camera, keeping the lens covered and free from scratches and dust. What's more, the Griffin Survivor goes a step further and incorporates thin, water-resistant membranes over the speakers and mic, making the case one of the most dust and debris proof cases you will find. Not that I would recommend it, but I would imagine that if your mini took a "swim" for the briefest second; in the toilet, sink or stream, that it would stand a pretty darn good chance of escaping unscathed if you had it safely ensconced within the Griffin Survivor.


Holiday buying guide. Rugged iPad mini cases


If you have a teenager, a roughhousing spouse or friend, or if you know anyone who is a little on the clumsy side, the Survivor might be just what the doctor ordered. The Survivor is available HERE for $60.00.




Cygnett Workmate


The Workmate for the iPad mini is the most affordable case (an understandable consideration for many, after throwing down a minimum of $330.00 on the mini!) featured here that offers a high degree of rugged protection and rounds out my top three list of heavy-duty iPad cases.


Holiday buying guide. Rugged iPad mini cases


The Workmate sports a streamlined design that combines a cushioning inner silicone skin with a hard, impact resistant outer polycarbonate shell. The outer shell has a silky texture to it, ensuring a solid grip and the underlying silicone grip pokes through the hard exoskeleton in strategic spots to provide even more traction and shock protection.


The Workmate doesn't go as far as some other heavy-duty protective cases when it comes to fully protecting your iPad mini. It does not come with an integrated screen protector, though you can always add on an adhesive screen protector (sold separately) if you feel the need, and it also leaves the speakers, Lightning connection port and headphone port exposed. But not only is this all okay to some folks, it is preferable to some iPad mini users. There is no doubt that being able to interact with the mini’s Gorilla Glass screen directly is a pleasure not to be underestimated and for some, the advantage of having silicone rubber flaps that can fold over the devices ports and openings isn't that important a feature. The flaps mainly come in handy at keeping debris of all types away from the iPad’s innards. If that's rugged overkill for you, then consider the Workmate when looking for a heavy-duty case, it might be the perfect fit for someone who isn't using their iPad mini out in the desert sands or by the waterside all that often. And for the money, this is some of the best shock protection you will find. If you want further proof, watch the short drop test video below that Cygnett put together to demonstrate the Workmate’s effectiveness!


Holiday buying guide. Rugged iPad mini cases  Holiday buying guide. Rugged iPad mini cases  Holiday buying guide. Rugged iPad mini cases


If you or someone you are shopping for likes a simpler, less bulky yet still extremely protective iPad mini case this might be just the ticket. Depending on the level of rugged protection you think might be called for the Workmate might be more than adequate.


The Workmate by Cygnett is available HERE for $40.00.




Images of Cygnett's Workmate courtesy of iLounge.

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As Senior Gear Editor at iPhone Life, Dig reports on the latest and greatest accessories built for the iOS ecosystem. From rugged gear and Bluetooth speakers, to headphones, unique iDevice cases, and iOS remote controlled vehicles, Dig's articles cover a wide range of great gear for the iPhone and iPad. A core gamer for over three decades, Dig also writes iPhone Life's Game Centered column, which focuses on the best iOS games and game related news. Additionally, Dig's company, iDoc Tech Support, offers web design and administration services as well as iPhone and iPad repairs. When not at his work desk, Dig loves spending time with family and enjoying the wonders of nature. You can follow him on Twitter @idoctech