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The right iPad Air case will do more than simply protect your expensive tablet. Depending on which model you choose, it can add a keyboard, offer customizable positioning, and make the whole package look a lot more stylish than a big slab of glass and metal. I consider the iPad Air the best mixture of features and price for most users. It’s powerful enough to handle just about anything without the huge price tag that comes with the also excellent iPad Pro. Some of that leftover cash should be earmarked for a case. We’ve rounded up a list of the best iPad Air cases for a variety of users, whether you’re trying to integrate the tablet into your personal work or simply watch movies on a flight to pass the time.
- Best overall: Zagg Pro Keys
- Best leather: Casemade Leather
- Best for drawing: Apple Smart Folio
- Best with keyboard: Logitech Touch Folio Air
- Best for laptop replacement: Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad
Things to consider when shopping for the best iPad Air cases
A solid iPad Air case isn’t cheap, so you’ll want to make sure you get everything you want out of your purchase before you fork over the cash. Here are a few essential features to consider when looking for the best iPad Air case.
At 10.9 inches, the iPad Air isn’t as tricky to type on as the much larger 12.9-inch iPad Pro. But, pushing down actual keys will still almost always provide a better experience than using an on screen input method. You have tons of options that come with keyboards, many of which don’t require charging or syncing because they transfer data and power directly through the iPads built-in magnetic connector. Some models, including our top pick, do offer Bluetooth for the keyboard, which makes it more flexible when it comes to orienting the device on a desk or airplane tray table.
Most keyboards employ a membrane keyboard design, which can feel unsatifsying, but some more expensive cases like the Apple Magic Keyboard provide a more tactile typing experience. Whatever you choose, don’t expect a ton of typing room.
Recent versions of iPadOS have drastically improved the way in which iPads mesh with touchpad navigation. iPadOS now recognizes input devices, including touchpads which can recognize gestures and multi-finger controls that MacBook users would be lost without.
Because the 10.9-inch screen isn’t huge, don’t expect a large touchpad on any of these cases, but you can find one if you really don’t like reaching up and touching your actual iPad every time you have to scroll.
If your iPad stays mostly at home or even makes occasional trips to the coffee shop, you probably don’t need a ton of protection to keep it safe. If you’re taking it out every single day, especially if you’re a working photographer in tough conditions, then you’ll want something that protects the sides of your device as well as the ports.
None of the cases on this list are built for heavy duty abuse. They can all absorb some punishment. But they’re not intended to protect a device during a full-on jungle safari or countless days working on construction sites. If you want something truly burly, look for a case with port covers and an IP rating that indicates how much moisture and dust it can really fend off when you’re out in the world.
We all use our tablets differently. Some of us tuck them into the crook of our arm like a clipboard. Others always set them on the table as upright as possible. Artists choose to lay the iPad mostly flat on a table for optimal drawing angles. Before you buy a case, make sure that it will support your tablet in your preferred orientation.
Some on this list have just a few specific angles at which they can rest. Others have more fluid adjustments that can tilt, raise, and lower the device to meet your specific needs. You don’t want to be stuck trying to draw with a tablets that’s too upright or watch the latest Fast and Furious flick on a plane when the stand is too big for the tray table.
Best overall: Zagg Pro Keys
Why it made the cut: With its burly coverage and very versatile orientation options, this case feels at home just about anywhere.
- Weight: 1.48 pounds
- Keyboard: Yes
- Pencil storage: yes
- Protects the sides of the device
- Case pulls away from the kickstand for flexibility
- Very solid keyboard experience
- Holds onto the Pencil while in transit
- Only one color option
We believe this is pretty much the best iPad case full-stop, so it only stands to reason that it would be the best for the iPad Air as well. This case has a built-in battery that can last up to a year on a charge. That number can vary depending on what features you use—the illuminated keyboard will drain it particularly quickly. Built-in power allows the keyboard to pair with the device via Bluetooth. Because the actual case can pull away from the kickstand and keyboard, you can arrange it in pretty much any orientation as long as you have the room on your desk.
The membrane keyboard sports a full set of keys with rounded corners to make some room between each button. That helps cut down on typos. It’s not the most satisfying key press sensation, and this case is just OK for using on your lap, but its versatility more than makes up for any small quibbles we may have.
When closed, the polycarbonate cover protects the screen. The case itself comes up around the edges of the device, leaving space for the TouchID power button and other ports and speakers. That adds an extra layer of protection the first-party Apple cases don’t offer. It can survive a drop from up to 6.6 feet, which is really probably higher than your iPad ever needs to be.
Its functionality goes beyond the iPad as well. It has multi-device pairing, so you can keep it connected to an iPad as well as a smartphone and easily switch between them if that’s something you’re interested in doing. Even with all those features, it checks in at a surprisingly affordable price that’s lower than the first-party Apple offerings.
Best leather: Casemade Leather
Why it made the cut: This handsome cover offers ample protection and basic features for business travelers.
- Weight: 1 pound
- Keyboard: No
- Pencil storage: No
- Handsome brown leather cover will get better looking with age
- Simple design stays out of your way
- Kickstand allows the tablet to stay put in two different orientations
- No protection for the sides of the iPad
Most modern iPad Air cases look nearly identical, but this case’s cowhide leather exteriors sets it apart from its mostly gray competition. The leather is totally authentic and will get a nice patina on it as you drag it around in your bag.
You won’t find a keyboard or any kind of electronic connectivity here. The iPad snaps into clips at the corners of the case to hold it in place and you simply open and close it like you would a folder or a book. The kickstand style design allows iPad users to orient the device either upright or relatively flat depending on the situation. The upright situation is ideal for watching a movie on a plane’s tray table, while the lay-flat option is solid for taking notes, drawing, or retouching photos.
Obviously, there’s no keyboard on the case, but this is meant more for note taking and media consumption than it is hardcore productivity. Despite its lack of fancy functions, it does do stuff you’d expect any good iPad case to do. For instance, it has magnets necessary to tell the iPad to wake up when the case is open and then go back to sleep once it’s closed. It’s a basic, functional design that style-forward users will appreciate.
Best for drawing: Apple Smart Folio
Why it made the cut: It leans back at an ideal angle for creating masterpieces.
- Weight: 3.5 ounces
- Keyboard: No
- Pencil storage: No
- Holds the iPad at the perfect angle for drawing
- Very light
- Several color options
- Strong attachment
- Easy installation
- Sparse on features for the price
Apple’s most basic first-party case deserves some love even if it is relatively light on advanced features. This slim cover simply attaches via magnets to the iPad Air and provides front and back protection for the device. Folding the cover allows the iPad to sit upright for watching content or doing video calls. Its alternate orientation allows the iPad to lay much flatter on a surface, which makes it deal for leaning over to draw.
The lack of a keyboard may seem like a drawback. But, if you’re not doing much typing, that extra size can actually get in the way when you’re trying to sketch or do intense retouching with the Apple Pencil.
The case comes in a variety of colors and only adds 3.5 ounces to the total weight of the device. That’s less than a quarter of what some keyboard cases weigh. If you’re looking for a classic iPad case that won’t get in the way, this is as good as it gets. The materials are also much more robust than the absurdly cheap knock offs you’ll find out there on the market.
Best with keyboard: Logitech Touch Folio
Why it made the cut: With a built-in touchpad and storage for the Apple Pencil, this is a great case for frequent travelers.
- Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Keyboard: Yes
- Pencil storage: Yes
- Keyboard and touchpad make navigation simple
- Rugged outer covering feels very sturdy
- Flap holds the Apple Pencil in place during transit
- Protects the side of the device
- I don’t love the color
- Closing flap can be slightly annoying
Logitech’s full-featured iPad case doesn’t require a battery. It does offer both a full keyboard and a trackpad for navigating around inside iPadOS. The trackpad is relatively small, but it supports common navigation features that make it easy to move around like you would on a MacBook laptop. The keyboard offers surprisingly satisfying keystrokes for such a flat device.
The kickstand allows the device to sit in a wide variety of orientations, most of which feel very sturdy. If you don’t want to use the keyboard, you can flip it around behind or under the device. That orientation comes in handy if you want to lean over the device to draw. This feels a little awkward when you’re holding the iPad like an actual tablet and your fingers are simply resting on the keys on the back of the device. You get used to it after a while, however.
I don’t love the graphite colorway, which is the only one that Logitech offers. The outer material feels like fabric, though, and stands up to the abuse of regular commuting very well. Even after some heavy use, I didn’t notice much in the way of grime build up or wear and tear.
A magnetic flap holds the whole thing open or close, and it’s great most of the time, but it can sometimes come loose and flap in front of the screen. Once I figured out how to hold it properly, that wasn’t a problem. That flap does, however, hold the Pencil in place during travel, which makes it more than useful enough to counteract the occasional annoyance. Pencils are expensive, after all.
Best for laptop replacement: Apple Magic Keyboard for iPad
Why it made the cut: Apples top-of-the-line keyboard case essentially turns an iPad into a full-fledged laptop.
- Weight: 1.81 pounds
- Keyboard: Yes
- Pencil storage: No
- The best-feeling iPad keyboard you’ll find
- Clever hinge is strong and stable
- Included touchpad supports apple gestures
- Doesn’t lay flat
If you want to turn your iPad into a laptop, then there’s no better way to do it than with the Magic Keyboard. This pricey case offers full-fledged switch-based keys with 1mm of travel, which feels luxurious compared to most other options. The iPad simple magnets into the case and a cantilevered arm holds it in place in the orientation of a typical laptop computer.
It’s extremely well-designed and very comfortable to use, but it does have some drawbacks. The hinge doesn’t flip around behind the device, so you’re basically stuck using the iPad as a laptop when it’s attached. If you want to simply hold it in your hands like a clipboard, you have to remove the case entirely. That’s simple to do because of the magnetic attachment, but it’s still awkward.
But, if you’re not planning to take the iPat out of the case that often, this is the closes thing to a laptop replacement that you’ll get. It has a pass-through USB-C port built right into it and it’s sturdy enough to stay upright even on a turbulence-filled flight.
Q: Is there a smart cover for iPad Air?
Yes, there is. It’s called the Apple Smart Folio. It’s a great case if you mostly use your tablet for drawing, note taking, or watching content. It doesn’t add a keyboard to the device, but it also doesn’t add extra bulk, which some people prefer.
Q: What is the most protective case for an iPad air?
If you’re looking for maximum protection, something like the Otterbox case fits the bill. It surrounds the edges of the device and can survive a drop from 6.6 feet, which is really higher than your iPad should be in the first place. It doesn’t have a screen protector, so for that, you’d probably want a tempered glass screen protector to fend of scratches and dings.
Q: Is the iPad Air Smart Folio worth it?
Questions like this always come down to your specific situation and preferences. Yes, Apple’s first-party Smart Folio is pricy, but it’s also dead simple, reliable, and very well-designed. If you’re looking for a simple cover without a keyboard, it’s hard to do much better than this. You can get much cheaper copies online, but quality is spotty and customer support is very unpredictable.
I have used and reviewed basically every major iPad released in recent years, which means I’ve also had the chance to touch and try a large number of cases. We started with more than a dozen options for this list and narrowed it down to those that offer quality construction and desirable features. We included input from user feedback, professional reviews, and spec sheets in order to narrow our list. You’ll notice that lots of first-party Apple options appear here. While they’re often more expensive than their third-party counterparts, they also work flawlessly and provide superior built quality to their much cheaper competition.
Some final thoughts about the best iPad Air cases
If you’re looking for ultimate flexibility, then the Zagg Pro Keys will do everything you need and more. If you’re looking for something more specific, you’ll have a hard time going wrong with Apple’s first party iPad Air cases as long as you don’t mind paying a relatively high price. If you’re used to Apple products, however, that probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise anyway.