Got a new iPad? No doubt you're over the moon, but you don't get any protection in the box for all that delicate aluminium and glass. That's why you're here, of course.
If you have an iPad mini, here are cases and covers for the iPad mini. And if you want a keyboard for your iPad, click here's a selection of great iPad-specific keyboards
So, without any further chit-chat, let's get to the point: which case, cover or sleeve should you buy? The cases here are designed for the third- and fourth-generation iPad, and iPad Air. Check first to make sure you buy the right case for your model of iPad. Annoyingly, most cases designed for the iPad Air won't fit the thinner Air 2. We have a separate round-up of iPad Air 2 cases
We've also gathered together the best new cases specifically for the iPad Air.
Our advice is to play it safe and buy a case designed specifically for your model of iPad. There are plenty around, so it's hardly a problem. The cases below are mainly for the iPad 2, 3 and 4, but most are also available for the iPad Air and iPad mini.
Best iPad cases
Apple iPad Smart Case, from £39
Apple offers its own case which you can buy from the Apple Stores or the Apple Store online. The Smart Case which is for the iPad mini and iPad Air and Air 2 is made with dyed leather, available in various colours.
The Smart Case covers the front and back of the iPad Air 2, and the front flap not only automatically wakes up your iPad when you open it and puts it to sleep when you close it, but also doubles as a stand. It adds minimal bulk and weight and is one of the best cases we've used. The price is a bit steep, which is why we've rounded up lots of cheaper options below.
Apple iPad Smart Cover, £29
If you're happy to leave the back of your iPad exposed but want to cover up the front, get the wake/sleep functionality and also a handy stand, then the Smart Cover should be enough for you.
It's made from polyurethane rather than leather, but is available in a wider range of colours including black, white, pink, yellow, blue, green and red.
It's available for all iPads from the second-generation onwards.
STM Dux iPad case, £39.95
Australian STM has been making stylish, robust bags for laptops and iPads for years now, and its iPad case is billed as offering 'Ultra Protection'. If you're the sort to occasionally drop your iPad, take it on arduous journeys or have any contact with children you might want to think about super-proofing its saftey with acase such as the Dux.
The STM Dux has been tested to meet US Department of Defense Standard 810F/G durability tests, so it should be able to handle a rough child or bumpy journey – or particularly a rough child on a bumpy journey.
It is made from polycarbonate and water-resistant polyurethane, and features a rubberized thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) bracket, with reinforced corners to protect it from inadvertent drops. STM claims the Dux can survive a 2-metre (6’6”) drop.
A magnetic closure that, like Apple’s Smart Cover, saves battery life by putting the iPad to sleep when covered. It folds into both viewing and typing modes.
The STM Dux iPad case is available in two models: one for 2nd, 3rd and 4th Generation iPads; and one for the iPad Air. There's also a version for the iPad mini. At £39.95 the Dux isn't cheap but if you want the best protection it might turn out to be money very well spent.
Everything Tablet 360 Rotating iPad case, £25
Everything Tablet is a small, London-based company and has a range of cases which fit the iPad 2, 3 and 4, mini and iPad Air models.
The 360 Rotating case isn't unique (we've seen similar designs before), but it's well designed, comes in a variety of colours and is relatively inexpensive.
Our iPad 4 clipped in tightly and felt well protected by the microfibre lining, plastic rear tray and PU leather cover on the outside. Plus, there's a wide elastic strap to keep the cover closed.
The back panel has generous cut-outs for all ports, buttons and the rear camera. If anything, they're a tad too generous: the top and bottom edges, plus the entire speaker are unprotected.
Inside the front cover are three deep grooves to give you various viewing angles.
Of course, the highlight is the rotating mechanism which means you can turn your iPad to portrait mode and use the same grooves to for different angles. However, only the front two grooves are usable in portrait mode, as the iPad proved too heavy for the rear-most slot, and toppled over.
The fact that you can see the Apple logo through the mechanism is a bonus, though.
There are plenty of colours to choose between - we like the Black Carbon and the Cherry Red.
Buy from: www.everythingtablet.co.uk
Twelve South BookBook for iPad, £60
The BookBook for iPad from Twelve South is a novelty case that provides good protection but isn’t particularly practical. It adds significant weight and takes up more room in your bag since it's a bit bigger than the iPad, but the fun, antique tome appearance adds a quirky style to your tablet.
The distressed look helps disguise bumps and scratches and it certainly feels durable. The zip can be done up from either end and the iPad is held inside the case by two bottom hooks and an elastic strap across the top. The strap can sometimes cover the status bar when using it in portrait mode, covering the time, signal and battery, which is a little annoying.
The BookBook can be used as a stand to hold your iPad in various landscape angles, suitable for typing and FaceTime. The way this works is by folding the front cover back and attaching a cord to it to hold the iPad in position at the angle you want, but it isn't particularly sturdy.
Despite some annoyances and a rather steep price, we like the BookBook for iPad and would recommend it to anyone looking for something a bit different to the norm to provide good protection for their tablet.
Incipio Lexington Hard Shell Folio, £35
The Lexington is much like STM's Skinny 3 case (see below) in that it offers two standing positions and a slot-in tab to hold everything in place. At 235g, the Lexington is heavier and sturdier than the Skinny 3 and has a thicker rear polycarbonate shell with a microsuede lining to protect the rear of the iPad.
The main difference is that it hinges from the rear, rather than the side, of the case. And what a difference. Thanks to the fabric 'hinge', the two stand positions are much more usable than most folio-style cases. When the iPad is upright for watching video, the stand is around 5cm deeper than usual and this gives the Lexington much better stability.
It's a similar story in 'typing mode' where the back edge of the iPad sits a bit higher off the desk and is again held firmly in position. Some may find the angle a touch too steep but we liked it.
Magnets reliably wake the iPad and make it sleep when you open and close the cover and the dock cut-out is big enough to accommodate large devices such as the camera connection kit.
There are various colour combinations to choose from, but all suffer from showing up every greasy fingerprint due to the smooth finish of their faux-leather material. Plus, as with the other Incipio cases below, the case smelled strongly of glue or some other chemical, but this did fade after a couple of weeks.
Belkin Cinema Stripe Folio with Stand, £40
This brand new case has just about all the features we'd want: decent protection, cutouts for all the buttons, speaker, camera and ports plus two different stands. The double fold in the case allows you to position your iPad at the perfect angle, and the rubbery finish prevents it from slipping over at shallower angles. If you flip the cover over the back and tuck it into the tab, it also works as a typing stand. A magnetic catch holds the case shut, and another magnet on the rear holds the flap out of the way when the case is open. More magnets in the cover wake and sleep the iPad, and the tablet itself is held in place and protected at its four corners by tough rubber hooks.
The Stripe version of the case is available in blue, red and black, but there are other designs in the Cinema range, including leather-bound and 'dot' versions. However, we have a couple of reservations. One is that the power button is tricky to access beneath the rubber hook. That's still a minor quibble though compared to the the weight. At 360g, the Cinema Stripe pushes the total weight to over 1kg when you factor in the 660g iPad. It's fine if you won't be holding your iPad for long periods, but we suspect you'll prefer something lighter if you will.
Booq Folio, £20
German company Booq's new Folio case fits both the new iPad as well as the iPad 2 and comes in five colours: black, black stone, sand, grey and - for the ladies - pink.
It's a slim, well-made case that's lined with nubuck, a material that's both soft and grippy so it protects your iPad and makes it easier to hold it.
The iPad slides in from the left-hand side and the fit is excellent for the new iPad. There are well-positioned cutouts for the camera and dock connector, but it's slightly tricky to get to the volume rocker, but the all-round protection is welcome.
The front cover has strong magnets which hold it shut and also operate the iPad's sleep/wake function. Two folds in the cover allow it to create a stand for typing or, if you place your iPad upright, for watching videos or using Skype, for example.
It's one of the better folio cases, and now it's available for less than half it's original price of £50, making it a bargain.
Proporta Smart Recycled Leather, £40
If you want a real leather case, but don't want to pay a fortune, this recycled version could be ideal. The leather has a matt finish and looks slightly grey rather than black, but looks good. It's similar to Proporta's Leather Style range, which is the same price. However, this one doesn't covert into a stand. It's held shut by a popper and has a hessian lining with a pocket for A5 documents.
Although the camera cutout isn't quite in the right place, there was no vignetting. Strangely, there's no cutout for the top-mounted microphone, but it doesn't noticeably affect the new iPad's dictation function. At the top right corner, a small tie keeps the front and back of the case together while still allowing access to the power and volume controls.
Buy the Recycled Leather Case for iPad here.
Griffin Elan Folio, £10
Folio cases are perhaps the most common choice for an iPad, and Griffin's Elan Folio is a stylish choice. It's available in a variety of designs, from colourful notebook-esque styles (the Cabana range, shown below) to those with a more demure, business look.
Built-in magnets wake the iPad when you open it, and put it to sleep when you close it. Inside is a soft lining to protect the screen, and there's an elastic loop for a stylus. The cover can be flipped back to turn it into a stand, either for watching videos in landscape mode, or typing with the rear raised slightly from the desk.
If you decide to buy, make sure you're getting the newer model, which has magnets which work with the new iPad. The old model has the same name, but works only with the iPad 2.
Amazon currently has the case at just £10!
Buy from: Amazon
Incipio Flagship Folio, £60
Incipio's brand new Flaghip Folio is a novel take on the folio style. The chunky carbon fibre-like plastic and solid aluminium hinge puts this case a world away from soft, skinny cases and it exudes class. It may be expensive, but it's worth the extra price over lesser folios.
Protection is very good: only the speaker, dock connector and volume controls are exposed - everything else is well shielded. The dock connector cut-out is large enough for accessories such as Apple's camera connection kit and the HDMI adaptor. Inside the front and rear covers is a soft microfibre lining, so your iPad's screen and back panel are safe from scratches.
The iPad clips into the rear section easily, and the Flagship Folio doesn't cover any of the iPad's screen bezel. Magnets operate the sleep/wake function and a tab on the cover clips over the side of the iPad to ensure it stays shut - many folios rely on the magnets.
A series of eight ribs on the inside of the front cover, along with big rubber 'feet' on the two left-hand corners of the rear, enable lots of different viewing angles, although we found our iPad was stable only in the first five positions. Further back than that and the iPad tended to topple forward since the angle was 90 degrees or greater.
The front cover can be folded flat against the rear of the iPad, but this obviously covers the camera (we're not sure why the camera cutout is so large). We also found that the magnets put our iPad to sleep in this position if the cover moves slightly. This only happened a couple of times, though.
Our only other gripe is that the case had a strong chemical smell (possibly the glue), which remained even two weeks after testing. It did disappear after a month or so, however.
Tech21 Impact Folio Leather, from £39.99
Tech21 is fairly well known for its range of shock-absorbing cases and bags for laptops and smartphones. The Impact Folio Leather, which is also available in brown, fits the iPad 2, 3 and 4 and, as the name explains, is a folio-style case made from leather.
Your iPad slides in to the surround and is held in place by a tuck-in tab. The case offers "six-sided protection" and has the same D3O polymer integrated to help absorb impacts. You can't tell where D3O has been used, though, as it's not on show. (Tech21 says it's along the sides and at the corners.)
We like the fact the cutouts are minimal so hardly any of your iPad is exposed. Some cases don't do a great job of protecting the top and bottom edges, but the Impact Folio does.
The case hinges so it can be placed in one of three viewing angles, but the grooves are shallow and the design isn't as stable as Everything Tablet's 360 Rotating case.
The microfibre lining is quite grippy, but our iPad fell flat more than once during our testing.
Strong magnets hold the case shut and also turn your iPad on when you open the case (and turn it off when you close it).
The all-round protection theme goes a little too far as even the Home button is covered by the leather surround. Even after a few days, we still hadn’t learned how hard to push it for the home button to register. You could cut the surround, of course, but it's not ideal.
The Impact Folio is one of few cases to offer storage pockets (another being Belkin's Storage Folio). The front pocket is large enough for A5-size documents, and the rear roughly A6. If you're determined, you can store in-ear headphones in the front pocket, but it's not really meant for this.
It isn't over-priced for a leather case, but the covered home button and slighly unstable stand position means we can't give it a higher rating.
Brunswick England, £85
This all-leather folio should appeal to executives. It's well padded and adds plenty of protection. A fold in the rear allows it to function as a stand in two positions: one raised up for presentations, and a lower one that's still a little too high for typing. Folded back flat gives a shallow angle that's better for typing, but still not ideal.
Magnets in the cover turn your iPad on when you open it, but there's nothing to keep the cover shut. Magnets are meant to do the job, but they're simply not strong enough. All ports are accessible without removing the iPad from the case, though. The camera cutout is a touch too low, and left photos with a dark vignette at the top. Also available in brown and cranberry.
The TabToob is an unusual iPad case as it's aimed at kids rather than adults. It's a bulky - but lightweight - dense foam case which protects the iPad from drops and knocks.
As the TabToob's British designer freely admits, the case isn't about looking good; it's focus is on making sure your iPad remains in pristine condition even after the clumsiest of handling.
To that end, the TabToob really will protect an iPad 2, 3 or 4 being dropped onto a concrete floor from at least a child's height (see the video below).
It comes with a thick foam screen protector which attaches by four Velcro-style tabs. Along with the optional £5 carry strap, it means you don't even need a bag to transport your iPad.
The screen protector also doubles as a stand, but it's not something that kids will be able to set up themselves as it requires some skill to attach correctly.
Despite the hefty protection, there are well-placed cutouts for the front and rear cameras, power button and volume controls.
We found the Home button was a little awkward to access, as were any small on-screen buttons at the edges of the screen. However, overall, the TabToob doesn't impede the use of the iPad much, and at 165g, doesn't add much weight either.
One slight issue we found was the lack of an adequate cutout in the top half of the case for the headphone socket. It's difficult plugging in a pair of headphones and even harder to unplug them.
A more significant problem was removing our iPad from the case. The fit (on an iPad 3 and 4 particularly) is extremely tight. It requires considerable force to insert an iPad through the slot in the bottom of the case to begin with, and almost impossible to remove it. You have to use the headphone and power button cutouts to push the iPad out, but the tight fit makes it very tricky.
Overall, the TabToob does its job brilliantly, but it's best suited to being a permanent case for your iPad. If you plan to constantly swap it between cases, it may not be ideal.
Kensington SafeGrip for iPad, £39
It might make Apple’s design wiz Jonathan Ive cringe but the Kensington SafeGrip really does ignore Apple’s fine iPad styling and goes instead for super-rugged protection.
Its chunky, colourful looks make it a great choice for kids, but especially their parents who wince every time little Jonny or Jane bounces off with the family iPad.
It is compatible with the iPad 2, 3 and 4.
It boasts a big handle that will likely limit the number of times it is dropped but if it does hit the floor the all-round padding should cushion the iPad from even precipitous falls. The handle also acts as a stand for viewing and typing. There’s even a groove for fitting a stylus.
The iPad is sunk within the SafeGrip case so the screen gets added protection, too.
The Kensington SafeGrip is a great solution for shared-use environments, and will be equally at home in a classroom as it is around the home.
Case-mate Tuxedo, £15-30 depending on colour and iPad model
Taking inspiration from Apple's Smart Cover, the Tuxedo covers both the front and back of the iPad. It has a large 'MagicTape' pad to which you stick your iPad to attach the case. The tape is extremely strong and there's no chance your iPad will fall out of the case. Case-mate says the tape is reusable, but we wouldn't want to swap cases too often as it takes a minute or two to prise the Tuxedo from the rear of the iPad. Fortunately, no residue is left on the iPad.
Available in black, grey, orange, teal and pink, the front of the Tuxedo mimics the Smart Cover and has magnets which hold it together when folded into a triangle. The same magnets activate the new iPad's wake/sleep function. Occasionally, we found that the magnets inadvertently turned our iPad off when we folded the cover flat against the back of the iPad - not helpful. It's thicker than Apple's Smart Cover and doesn't fold in half and stay that way as Apple's does - a useful position for taking photos without the cover getting in the way.
The Tuxedo admirably protects the back of the iPad, and is a high-quality case, but it doesn't do much to protect the exposed sides of the tablet. There's also the small issue of price: £50 is bit too steep. For that, you could buy real Smart Cover and a separate clip-on rear cover which adds a bit more edge protection and is easier to remove.
Belkin Storage Folio, £30
One feature missing from most iPad cases is a pocket for stowing accessories. We can understand why though: it can ruin the sleek lines of your stylish tablet.
Belkin's new Storage folio doesn’t worry too much about style, being finished in a similar coarse black nylon to many laptop bags. There's a pocket on the front cover which is held shut by Velcro fasteners. It's big enough for your earphones, charging cable, stylus and a couple of other small accessories. You can even stuff your iPad's wall charger in, although this does make for a lumpy look.
The tri-fold cover turns the case into a typing or viewing stand, and there's a sizeable cutout in the rear for the camera. An elastic strap keeps the case shut - and open when folded flat against the back of the iPad.
The iPad itself is held in place by four rubber hooks at the corners and the screen is protected by a soft felt-like fabric. If black is too boring, there are magenta and red variations.
Cygnett Lavish Earth, £30
Yet another folio-style case, Cygnett's is quite stylish and well-made. As with many cases, it's made from faux-leather with a microsuede lining, and is available in various colours: black, brown and purple. You can also get a Glam version which has the same design but is finished in a glossy red material.
Three strips of the faux-leather material are stitched to the inside of the cover to provide three different viewing angles in landscape mode. They hold the iPad well, and the shallowest angle is good for typing when sitting at a desk.
We're not huge fans of cases which put a frame around the iPad - it's not nearly as flattering as Belkin's Cinema Stripe Folio or Maroo's Nylon range. Although there are magnets to help keep the cover shut, they're not particularly strong and don't activate the sleep/wake function. Our final gripe is that the front cover doesn't fold in half, so it covers the camera when folded backwards, or flaps around loose when you're trying to take a photo.
It's by no means the worst iPad case around, and it's well priced, but there are better choices.
Proporta Maya II Sleeve, £20
This thin, lightweight sleeve is designed to fit snugly around your new iPad. It's available in black, white and pink and is made from faux leather. As you'd expect, the inside is lined with a soft felt to prevent scratches, but there's no strap or zip on the top edge where the tablet slides in. There's precious little padding, either, so this is a sleeve best carried in another bag with more protection.