As much as I love my iPad mini, one big difference between it and its larger sibling is that the Apple Smart Cover doesn't work as well with the iPad mini as it does with the full-sized iPad. Because there is one less crease in it, it doesn't do as good of a job working as a stand, plus I find it somewhat flimsy. Thus, I have been thinking about switching to a different cover or case for the iPad mini. I recently heard from MobileFun.com, a company that sells a large number of different iPad mini cases. They offered to send me a free review sample from their large collection, and I selected the DODOcase HARDcover, a case that covers the iPad in something that makes it look like a high-quality hardcover book.
DODOcase has been around since early 2010, shortly after the iPad itself was introduced. Their line of cases have received good reviews over the years. In fact, President Obama uses a DODOcase with his iPad; you can see it on the corner of his desk in this photograph.
There are two models for the iPad mini. The regular DODOcase has a bamboo tray. The iPad fits into the tray, and that tray provides protection if something hits the iPad on the side. The other model is the DODOcase HARDcover, which doesn't have the bamboo and instead uses an adhesive to stick to the iPad, resulting in slimmer and lighter product (although the sides are exposed). Both versions are available either in the "classic" model with a black cover and either a red, blue or charcoal inside, or the "solid" model with red. blue or charcoal outside and a tan inside.
The main feature of any DODOcase is the book-like hardcover, and it is very nice. It feels like the sort of hardcover that you might find on a very nice library book. It is durable, sturdy, and feels great in the hand. It looks good too; when you carry around an iPad in a DODOcase it looks like you are carrying around a quality, hardcover book. There is a strap on the side to keep the cover closed. A hole in the back lets you use the camera.
The case uses magnets so that your iPad screen shuts off when the cover is closed — just like the Apple Smart Cover. Note, however, that you don't actually feel the magnets in any way. It is the strap that keeps it closed, not magnets.
I was uncertain about whether to choose the regular model with the bamboo tray or the HARDcover model with the adhesive. Because the whole advantage of the iPad mini is that it is so thin and light, I opted for the HARDcover model with the charcoal color inside. It weighs 130 grams versus 182 grams for the traditional DODOcase. The HARDcover model has a spine that is 3mm thinner and is 10mm shorter than the traditional DODOcase. (See here for more info on the differences.) With the iPad mini inside, the thickness of the HARDcover is just barely over a half an inch.
When you open the case, you feel like you are opening a book.
I was a little apprehensive using an adhesive to attach something to the back of the iPad mini. But the DODOcase website says: "Industrial-grade adhesive used to secure the iPad mini is reusable and residue-free." In my numerous tests, this seems true. The iPad mini is held very securely in place when attached to the adhesive. But with just a small amount of effort you can detach the iPad mini and there is no sticky residue on the back of the iPad mini. The manufacturer claims that you can remove and reattach an iPad mini over 1,000 times and the adhesive will still remain strong.
Nick Bilton of the New York Times recently noted in an article that Apple CEO Tim Cook is a fan of the design of the iPad mini buttons:
“Nick, just look at this,” Mr. Cook said as he held the miniaturized iPad in the air, brushing his hand along its edge as if he were about to perform a magic trick. Then, his index finger stopped, standing to attention as it pointed to two flat black buttons on the side. “Just look at those volume buttons. Have you ever seen anything like it? Aren’t they just outstanding?”
I mention this because one disadvantage of the DODOcase HARDcover is that it makes it harder to press the buttons on the top and side of the iPad mini. You can still access the buttons, but because the iPad mini has a curved side, that curved side against the flat back of the DODOcase means that you need to use the very tip of your finger or your fingernail. It's a little annoying and one thing that I do not like about this case.
It is easy to fold back the cover completely so that you can use the iPad mini while it is in the DODOcase HARDcover. And the book exterior is much less slippery than a naked iPad mini, so this reduces the risk that you will drop the iPad mini while you are holding it. Note, however, that when you fold back the cover and hold up the iPad mini to read it, anyone across from you will see the DODOcase sticker with a large drawing of a Dodo bird. I did get a few curious stares. If the sticker bothers you, you can remove it. I did so after taking the above pictures, and it came off cleanly without leaving any residue. You can put the sticker back on if you change your mind.
You can also use the elastic band to prop up the HARDcover to, for example. watch a movie. The HARDcase comes with a clip on the strap that is supposed to make it easier to do so on a slippery surface, but I found the clip unnecessary and it got in the way, so I removed it. If you are sitting on a couch or lying down in bed (i.e. you are resting the HARDcover on a non-slick surface such as your body), you can open up the cover even more without using the strap to find a comfortable viewing angle.
If you like the feel of a really nice hardcover book — and I know a lot of lawyers for whom that is true — then I think that you will really like this case. I have kept it on my iPad mini for over a week now and I have enjoyed using it it. I am still undecided on whether I will keep the iPad mini in this case all of the time. I don't like the way that the case makes it harder to press the buttons on the side of the iPad mini. This is not the DODOcase's fault — it is a result of Apple's decision to use a curved edge on the iPad mini — but it is a limitation. Also, I'm undecided if I want my iPad mini to feel like a book all of the time. I really like the feel of the iPad mini itself. Mind you, I am someone who doesn't use a case with my iPhone either, so I realize that I am more case-adverse than the average person. But for those times when I do want to use a case with my iPad mini, the minimalist and elegant design of the HARDcover make it a winner.
If you want other options, let me again thank MobileFun.com for sending me this review unit, and I'll point out that they have lots of different types of cases for the iPad mini, cases of different sizes and with different features. You are sure to find something there that works for you. Note that they charge a few dollars more for the HARDcover than if you buy from the manufacturer, but MobileFun.com gives you a 30 day money back guarantee (details here).