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Inconsistent Smart Cover performance mystery solved

updated 03:30 am EDT, Wed March 21, 2012

New iPad requires a particular polarity

Earlier this week, MacNN noted that despite similar specifications, some iPad 2 accessories don't quite work with the third-generation iPad. Form-fitting accessories such as hard-plastic shells, for example, may not fit the iPad's slightly thicker depth. Reports of inconsistencies with both Apple branded Smart Covers and third-party covers that offered the same functionality has been clarified by an enterprising user, reports Mashable.

Photographer Mark Booth has posted a video that unravels the mystery. Ahead of the debut of the new iPad, Apple began making Smart Covers that oriented the built-in magnets to a specific polarity, ostensibly to solve the problem of unintentionally putting the iPad 2 to sleep when the Smart Cover was flipped onto the backside of the tablet.

Booth explains that the iPad 2 sensors do not care about polarity, but the new iPad does -- so newer Smart Covers made by Apple in the later part of 2011 work correctly with the new iPad, as do third-party covers that happen to have gotten the polarity correct. Older Smart Covers and similar third-party covers no longer work, or work inconsistently.

Booth indicated that he's heard that Apple Stores may exchange improperly-working Smart Covers for newer ones if customers can demonstrate the issue. Apple has not commented publicly about the change and solutions for third-party covers will be up to the individual manufacturers. Booth points out in a late update that the maker of the cases featured in his video, Maroo, is offering free replacements for cases that don't work to their customers. [via Mark Booth via Mashable]

by MacNN Staff



  1. johnpford

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I bought my leather iPad 2 cover on opening day and it works just fine and always has(even on my 1/2 a week old 3rd Gen). Maybe they just got better with the alignment or quality control.

  1. PBG4 User

    Joined: Dec 1969


    I'm an outlier then

    I have an orange smart cover I bought with my iPad 2 last year that works 100% with my new iPad.

  1. bjojade

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It's going to be 50/50.

    If they assembled the covers with magnets randomly placed, you can expect 50% of them would work just fine.

  1. Wingsy

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Found This on Griffin's Moxy Already

    Bought a Griffin Moxy cover at Best Buy. Took it home. Didn't wake/sleep the iPad 3 when opened/closed. With a regular old magnet, it would wake/sleep with the magnet but only when used when one surface (one of its 2 poles) was held near the iPad. The Griffin's magnet was the wrong polarity, so I cut a slit in the fabric, took out the magnet and reversed it then glued it back under the fabric. Works fine. Told BestBuy about this and they continued to sell these covers. Any customer who bought one for their iPad3 will be disappointed, but that doesn't seem to bother BB.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Found This on Griffin's Moxy Already

    Told BestBuy about this and they continued to sell these covers. Any customer who bought one for their iPad3 will be disappointed, but that doesn't seem to bother BB.

    Except (a) you're assuming because your cover was wrong, that all covers are wrong, and (b) why aren't you concerned that Griffin isn't bothered?

    Oh, and you expect Best Buy to listen to a customer tell them how something is wrong and just take their word for it? For all they know, you're an agent for Griffin's competitor trying to knock out their product?

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