Snugg's first case for the iPad Air sticks to the plan. (November 29th, 2013)
Product Manufacturer: Snugg
- - Includes handstrap, stylus loop, two stand modes - Lightweight design doesn't detract from Air's weight - Tough leather, edges provide decent protection - Locking and sleep/wake magnets - Stand modes generally very sturdy
- - Users have to slide fingers between protruding edges to reach buttons, ports - Case bounces a little in typing mode - Redesign makes side bezels more prone to pulling, twisting
Snugg's Distressed Brown Leather Case was something of a pleasant surprise when I reviewed it last year. I didn't expect much at first, considering that it's a low-cost case from a relatively unknown manufacturer. It quickly became a personal favorite though, and ended up being my usual go-to case in between other review units. The Robust Case is Snugg's flagship for the iPad Air -- we'll put it through the ringer and see if it can live up to its predecessors.
The short answer, to spoil the review, is yes. While there are differences we need to go into, the Robust uses the same basic design as the DBLC and other Snugg folios. It's a bicast leather case with a smooth felt interior, and your iPad slots into a leather frame held shut with a velcro-lined tab. The lid features locking and auto-sleep/wake magnets, as well as a elastic strap you can slide your hand into. To use the case's two stand modes, you have to slot the lid into a tab on the back; a loop up top holds small- to medium-sized styluses.
All the benefits of the DBLC are intact. The Robust's stand modes are very sturdy, although the case bounces (a little) more than I'd like in the lower-angle typing mode. The handstrap is invaluable if you want to use an iPad while walking, and the stylus loop is well-positioned, convenient but unlikely to interfere. Even the magnets work exactly as you'd hope for, without any serious issues like auto-sleep/wake triggering accidentally when the lid is folded back. I'm still not a fan of buttons and ports being tucked away between protruding edges, but those edges do offer a nice buffer against impacts.
A side note: although both the DBLC and the Robust use bicast leather, it should be said that for whatever reason, the non-distressed leather on the Robust feels better, not to mention tougher. Some other Snugg cases use the same material, though, so that's merely something to keep in mind if you're considering the Air version of the DBLC.
The only significant difference from earlier cases, in fact, stems from the dimensions of the iPad Air. Because the tablet's side bezels are narrower, so too are the ones on the Robust. For the most part that doesn't have any drawbacks, except that it's slightly easier to pull and twist the leather frame. Of course, this is not the sort of case to pick if protection is your highest priority -- it merely does a good job.
Perhaps the best thing about the case is that its design is inherently well-suited to the Air. Since it uses little material beyond leather and felt, it's extremely light, which avoids detracting from the Air's own lightness. In testing I was able to comfortably hold my iPad one-handed, with or without the strap. The same can't be said of some other folios, which are often thicker and heavier without necessarily improving damage resistance.
I suppose it goes without saying then that the Robust comes highly recommended. There may be cases better suited to your specific needs, but as a general-purpose folio, this one will be hard to top.