iPad 2 Smart Cover Is Light & Airy, But Beware Greasy Streaks [In-Depth Review]

iPad 2 Smart Cover Is Light & Airy, But Beware Greasy Streaks [In-Depth Review]

Apple's Smart Cover for the iPad 2. CC-licensed photo by N0fX: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nofx/5520596353/in/photostream/

Apple’s new iPad 2 is basically one big screen. So the very first accessory that many of us will look for is a protective case for our new iPad 2s.

On launch day I wasn’t aware of any other case options besides Apple’s very own iPad Smart Cover which was available for $39 (polyurethane) or $69 (aniline-dyed Italian leather). The Smart Cover isn’t even close to being a case since it just protects the iPad 2’s display. The sides and back are completely exposed and unprotected. It’s elegant, thin, and doesn’t add a lot of weight or bulk to the iPad 2.

The Smart Cover is very thin and fits the iPad perfectly. It’s so thin it feels like you haven’t really added anything to the iPad at all. Perhaps that is just an illusion after owning the first iPad, but regardless it just doesn’t add a whole lot to the iPad’s weight or thickness. That is how it feels without going crazy weighing it, measuring it, etc. It just feels right.

Smart Cover Material and Color Options

You can get the Smart Cover made of polyurethane in orange, lime, green, pink, light blue, and light gray. The leather version comes in tan, beige, black, red, or navy. I purchased a black leather cover to go with my iPad 2 on launch day. Both versions of the cover feature a material that feels like felt on the side facing and touching the display. The leather model that I tested felt good in my hand and didn’t feel slippery. I was told by a friend who purchased the polyurethane version that it feels a lot like rubber and isn’t slippery feeling in the hand either.

Smart Cover Physical Characteristics

The Smart Cover features three vertical ribs and a long magnetized metal bar running down the left hand side of the Smart Cover that had hinges on it. Whenever you bring this metal portion of the Smart Cover close to your iPad 2 it quickly attached itself to the left side of the iPad 2. Once attached it completely covers the entire front side of the iPad 2. Then magnets inside of the Smart Cover and iPad 2 serve to keep the Smart Cover in place and they work fairly well for the most part.

Smart Cover Magnetic Personality

There were several times where I thought the metal portion of the Smart Cover smartly smacked the iPad 2 display giving me a good start. I thought I’d look down and see cracked or scratched glass, but so far luck has been with me and this hasn’t happened. Now I tend to attach it carefully to the iPad 2. It has only come off a few times and once I nearly dropped it and the iPad 2 — so I recommend that you be careful with it. It does come off easily in certain circumstances, but not that easily. You’ll get used to it pretty fast and fewer mistakes are likely to happen while you hand it and your iPad 2.

Smart Cover Magic and Innovation

The magnets also provide a little more of that Apple magic we are all getting used to seeing. If you close the cover your iPad 2 will automatically go to sleep. Lift the cover off of the iPad 2 and it wakes up. If you don’t like this feature you can adjust turn it off by launching the Settings app and changing this behavior. If you have a passcode lock you’ll be prompted to enter it when the iPad 2 wakes up — I liked that feature a lot. I imagine that third-party case vendors will take some of this magic and put it into their own case offerings later.

Now the smart in Smart Cover comes from the three ribs I mentioned briefly above. You use these to peel the cover back. The cover flips back over itself to form a triangular base that perches the iPad 2 at an angle that is comfortable for typing on its virtual keyboard in landscape mode. If you flip the whole thing over the triangle forms a perfect stand for holding the iPad 2 upright so you can watch movies, etc.

Screen Streaks

iPad 2 Smart Cover Is Light & Airy, But Beware Greasy Streaks [In-Depth Review]

I think I’ve established that fact that the Smart Cover isn’t the catch-all protective case for your iPad 2 — it’s a cover or screen protector and nothing more outside of the magnets interaction between the Smart Cover and the iPad 2. However, it does have one other claim to fame — Apple claims that the microfiber lining “gently buffs off any screen smudges or fingerprints as you move. ” The cover did seem to keep the screen clean to some degree with the exception of three streaks that correspond with the covers ribs. These never seem to go away, but at least they are straight and symmetrical.

You can see them on my own iPad 2 in the picture below as indicated by the red arrows. The image was difficult to capture due to the reflective nature of the glass on the iPad 2 display. You may have to alter the angle from which you view this image to see the streaks, but they are easier to see in person.

iPad 2 Smart Cover Is Light & Airy, But Beware Greasy Streaks [In-Depth Review]

Another example of the screen streaking problem can be seen in this

Conclusion

I decided to spend some time with my Smart Cover before writing this review. I think the Smart Cover is really interesting and not a bad idea at all. I think it is unique, innovative, and fun. It doesn’t look bad either. I just had to have black so my only option was to spend $69 for my Smart Cover. I’m not sure it was worth that much, but the Polyurethane color options weren’t professional. Finally, it does keep the screen clean, but not completely. I guess I’ll have to keep a micro-fiber cloth around or I’ll have to hope that Apple Store employees have a shammy handy when I drop by their store.

If you need something light and airy that offers your iPad 2 minor protection and classy looks the Smart Cover is a fit for you. But if you are looking for something offering more protection or a real cover then keep looking.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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  • Ross Broadway

    My problem is that I don’t find many other covers available yet. I felt like I needed to get the smart cover just to have something even if it was only temporary. Hopefully, there will be other manufacturers with more options out soon.

  • SavedByTechnology

    Does the iPad 2 come with a microfiber cloth, like my iPhone 4 did? Thanks :)

  • Justin Sanchez

    …you’ve got to be kidding me. Such an amazing piece of technology that we didn’t have a couple of weeks ago, at unbelievable prices, with an awesome reputation and experience, and we care about grease streaks??? No one’s forcing anyone to buy a smart cover! It’s a really cool idea, but no piece of technology out there is flawless and never will be! So let’s just chill and not try to burst people’s bubbles with negativity. Please!

  • balexandre
  • nmca

    Good Video David.
    Personally, I think this cover is just a ridiculous gimmick by Apple.
    It doesnt even protect the back of the ipad!!
    I’ll buy a proper case from the marketplace.

  • Aaron Scarb

    I have the polyurethane gray cover for mine, it does clean the screen as you move but I have also noticed that the slightest movment on the non metal side of it wakes my ipad, so it the cover slides on the screen at all as im walking I can hear it wake up and go back to sleep. Also it may just be that mine is gray, but mine got dirty really fast, outside and inside the cover. I have to keep wiping it down and I think that is because mine is gray but hey still, shouldn’t be that dirty. I also see the 3 lines along my screen, it doesn’t bother me that badly because when it is on I can’t see them, when it is off the cover is over it?? All in all I agree with you, its a nice COVER, but if you are looking for a case, this is not the route to go.

  • Aaron Scarb

    There are really nice ones from Belkin, and some others as well. Here is a link at some of the ones out there: http://mashable.com/2011/03/11

  • divebum

    Ya want a clean iPad… and case? Check out http://www.ultimatecloth.com. I’ve been using them on iPad, iPhone and computer screens for years. No, I do not get a cut… it’s just a damn good product.

  • Jtimmons

    Our rough review here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v… from last week basically says the exact same thing (but not as good production LOL)

  • Charlae Barbosa

    Do you find that the battery drains faster with the smart cover? I didn’t purchase one on Friday but waited till Monday and found that I can’t seem to keep a good battery charge.

  • jondrew55

    So after standing in line for two hours and finally getting my new ipad2 how could I resist spending another $40 for a smart cover? Of course, like the author I ended up spending twice that for the leather cover because I needed a more “professional” looking color (and because the only urethane covers left were pink).

    I really like the cover. And I consider myself to be the Imelda Marcos of iPad covers. I have a Specks silicone cover, a cheapo faux leather portfolio cover ($26 and probably my favorite) and an Otterbox Defender in case I bring my iPad into combat. The iPad 2 still fits nicely in that cheapo folio cover (no rear camera hole of course), but the smart cover makes a nice screen protector and 2 position stand and is very light weight. I generally find myself putting the iPad and cover into a $15 padded netbook sleeve I have for a bit of extra protection. The nice thing about that is I can use the sleeve as protection when I put the ipad down on a surface to keep the back from getting scratched.

    Having said all that, I must admit the obsession from keeping the iPad from getting scratched is a bit silly. My trusty iPhone 3GS has been living “naked” in my pocket for the last year or so. Yea, it has a few scratches. So what? If I drop it on a concrete or something I’ll probably regret it. Same thing with the iPad. I bought a used 16Gig WiFi iPad a few months ago and did not realize until I got home that there were several scratches on the screen. Of course I couldnt take it back, and it had not effect on functionality (you can’t really see them at normal viewing angles).

    So my new philosophy is, hey, its a tool (or toy if you will). Don’t abuse it, its going to get a few dings and dents. Focus on what it can do for you.

  • Dave McCarroll

    I have also noticed on the black leather Smart Cover, that white spots occur where you have touched the cover. It must be something in the dye that reacts to the oils in your skin. I’m always rubbing them out. But, I do believe the Smart Cover is just the icing on the cake for the iPad 2.

  • Dave McCarroll

    I have also noticed on the black leather Smart Cover, that white spots occur where you have touched the cover. It must be something in the dye that reacts to the oils in your skin. I’m always rubbing them out. But, I do believe the Smart Cover is just the icing on the cake for the iPad 2.

  • Bobbi H.

    I am just curious as to whether or not those lines are permanently on the screen or if they can simply be wiped away with one of the cleaning clothes? I just bought the cover and am waiting on my iPad 2 to come in. I want to make sure that I don’t ruin my screen with grease marks.

  • Brendan

    Thanks for the unbiased review of the Smart Cover. I think it’s a great idea, and achieves it goal. I think your point about it not being a protective case is a good one. For my iPad 1 I use the Muvn Case which is shock-resistant and has 1/2″ of EVA foam protecting the corners. It also make it easier to hold the iPad. I think a lot of people don’t realize that a naked iPad isn’t that easy to hold. Also, I personally haven’t needed to use screen protection on the iPad as i do with the iPhone. I think with the phone I’m always shoving it in a pocket and maybe there’s some keys or coins in there. But with the iPad, I’m usually holding it like a book, or putting it in a bag with actually books/flat items. So the Muvn Case’s raised bezel has kept the screen fine. Check it out over at http://www.gomuvn.com. I think it’s also a great case for people giving their iPad 1 to their kids as they upgrade to the iPad 2.

  • haineux

    Alas, no.

  • haineux

    http://www.handhelditems.com/ has some extremely inexpensive covers specifically labelled for iPad 2. I ordered a clear plastic case that covers the back, for about $10, including shipping. Obviously, I can’t say how good it is, yet.

  • Chris

    Thanks and now I am not sure that I want to spend that kind of money if it does not do the job. I guess I will just have to wait a few weeks and see what comes out.

  • Gerry99

    That is the reason I did not get the leather version. I wanted black also but it said the color on the leather version could run and I didn’t want to take the chance. It’s right on Apple’s sight where the covers are sold. Could that be the reason you have streaks?

  • Torriajackson

    They are very easily wiped away with a microfiber cloth. I have the smart case in three different colors all leather and the all leave the streaks

  • Torriajackson

    I have not noticed any problem with batter life using the smart cover

  • Rigogibson

    Sweet Jesus! What on earth is this guy doing, eating potato chips and fried chicken and then loving up the iPad? I got mine on launch day, smart cover too, I’ve seen no weird BP looking oil spill from the cover, so I must ask what is all over the reviewers hands… Or hand… That has lead to this issue?!

  • Kenmedic

    You are not alone. I recently purchased the grey poly Smart Cover from my local Apple store for my Verizon edition iPad 2 and get the same streaking on the screen. My wife has the same problem with her iPad and Targus Truss case. The issue is not with the screen or type of cover, just that the voids allow for the accumulation of particles on that portion of the display.

    Like many people here and elsewhere, it’s making me reconsider the purchase of the smart cover. Once other options are available, I may ditch it for something else.

  • Stewball

    You’re absolutely right about that… i’ve been using them for years too! Beats microfibers hands down for the screens and cases. i’m hooked.

  • Alicia Hunter

    I like the smart cover, it is annoying having to clean the streaks of the screen all the time.

    http://ipadfans.co.uk

  • PMY

    If you have smooth counter tops such as granite or a glass desk protector, the leather case slides and will not function as a stand. Most annoying and makes the cover basically useless as it also does nothing to protect the back or offer any protection other than cover the screen. Very disappointing and an expensive mistake.

  • SteveW928

    I agree… that’s kind of my attraction to the smart cover as well. I’d like to keep the device as ‘naked’ as possible. So, this protects the screen a bit when in the bag or not in use… and has a double function as a stand… but best of all, comes off super-quickly.

  • SteveW928

    Heh… they seem to have missed the ability to stand the iPad in landscape mode to watch the movie…. flip it around dude! flip it around! :)
    Thanks for showing how easily it opens though… that’s not good.

  • SteveW928

    I’m still trying to decide about the functionality, as in using it as a stand. Otherwise, I think I’m just going to get a sleeve. I LOVE this one: http://www.colcasac.com/ipad-s

  • Carney Bryan

    great tip and very timely. i much appreciate it. Going to buy my pad soon and will definately look for another option.

    thanks again for your very thorough report.

  • ewestby

    It’s totally unrelated. The interior of the cover, the part that contacts the screen glass, is not leather but microfiber cloth. The leather never touches the screen.

    The warning about the leather possibly changing color is simply Apple’s lawyers ensuring there isn’t a silly “leathergate” scandal in six months. Some doofus will invariably claim that his cover no longer looks perfect after being used regularly. The reality is that leather wears over time.

  • M Yogibara

    The streaks are on both versions of this cover. Major suckage.

  • Matt Smith

    I don’t like the smart cover and here’s why. I bought an iPad because it’s mobile and small and compact. My primary usage of it is on my lap or sitting in bed or on the go. When I put it in my lap I need it tilted up at an angle enough to see and type on. When I’m in bed I prop my knees up so I can type or see it. The problem is that the thing rolls off the little triangle riser it makes when you fold it up. I brought this to the attention of an Apple counter person and he said “well it works for me”.. in a snotty “I’m hip and you’re not kinda way”. Since you can’t really have another cover working with magic cover, I just spent $69 (aniline dye version) for something that doesn’t function in my lap. Yes the cover is elegant. And as a designer myself I appreciate the simplicity and look. BUT it does not function so all the elegant design in the world does not make up for that. At least the way I’m using it. Just so you don’t think I’m a complete Debbie Downer on this I will acknowledge that it works pretty well on a desk or table where you have a solid flat surface to use your iPad. But if I wanted that I’d probably be using a laptop. That is not what I bought it for though. So…. buyer beware. I am returning mine and waiting until the aftermarket designs come out with something that works for me. I’m sure they are smart enough to come up with magnets in their covers too so they have the same magic like on off qualities the overpriced Apple version comes with.

  • madhatter61

    Targus THZ044US VuScape Protective Cover and Stand for iPad 2. Got this one because the Smart Cover (blue) was out of stock. I wanted full protection immediately, so got this one. As it turns out, the blue Smart Covers finally came in, but after two weeks of using the Targus, I didn’t want the Smart Cover. Why? The Targus has a built-in stand feature with 3 angle selections. Setups up fast and is very stable. iPad2 needs a stand if planning on holding it for any length of time. As I was in an evaluation phase, I read over many comments on many forums … read reviews, and thought long a hard. Discovered I wanted a manual keyboard also. I was tempted to get the Zaggmate, but after many reviews discovered it wasn’t EZ to get out of the metal case, the keyboard was small and they moved some of the key to fit, but it isn’t a standard keyboard layout which I wanted and the case had edges that bothered. I finally got an Apple Wireless keyboard. It is better for typing and that was what I wanted. I don’t want the thin film protectors over the display… though many do… But the Targus protects all around, and the corners as well…this is important.
    Cost wise, same as the poly Smart Cover. Even with the Apple keyboard, my cost is less than Zaggmate and it is more convenient and EZr to use. The Targus is very professional looking, and the cutouts for controls, etc are perfect including the hole for the camera. Hope this helps others.

  • madhatter61

    As an overview … the Apple Smart Cover is a simple and elegant way to store the cover when not in use. The fact it features an elegant and simple on/off magnetic switch is a big attraction.
    Setting up the stand is easy and intuitive. On a flat surface the stand action is stable and effective.

    In a hand held arrangement the cover probably needs to be easily removed and set aside. Then the thinness and reduced weight are most notable. Some users have just folded the cover underneath and it is out of the way w/o removing it.

    Perhaps the design should be considered just a clever way to store the tri-fold stand. iPad2 does need two key support angles … a lower angle for typing on the virtual keyboard … the other in a more upright mode for hands free viewing, e.g. Movies, Slideshows, reading, etc. The stand alone mode works best on a stable flat surface. Both of these work well in the Landscape orientation. While the cover can allow the ipad2 to stand vertically in Portrait orientation it seems just a bit awkward at best.

    The iPad2 is a hand held device, pure and simple. The new iPad2 is thinner and a bit lighter and does indeed seem easier to hold that the original iPad. The cover/stand facilitates a convenient way to hold it easily w/o awkwardness.

    There has been much written/posted for additional protection as well … scratches, abrasions, maybe denting (if dropped), etc. It should be noted that corners also are vulnerable to damage if dropped or mishandled. Third Party vendors are very busy creating all kinds of options and variations in sturdy cases with or without stands.

    Then there are the thin film protection schemes to prevent scratching of the Gorilla glass display itself. .

    So with the above issues in mind, the stage is set for what is best or most desirable. And finally, costs, materials used, craftsmanship and appearance are involved.

  • shackles

    That’s one of two drawback for me: the streaks it leaves on the screen. Other than that I like it. I also like something that offers more of a sporty feel & looks like this case http://kck.st/ejmqQ7

  • Cheryl

    I’ve been using my Smart Cover to turn my iPad on and off. Last night, even with the cover on and roughly 84% battery when I went to bed, this morning it was ZERO. The screen was completely black. I plugged it in and it said 2%. What is going on – did Apple not thoroughly test it? I don’t like that it’s not working right because now I can never trust it again, just like when a human tells a lie.

  • Maria Kronenberg

    Great review David. Real objective. The tipping point for me was that it offers no real protection. Even the work cover is no blanket of security. I initially ordered one from apple, but today I returned it. I took your review at face value and felt that from a cosmetic point of view it looks great. I just can’t afford to walk around with a expensive tablet and hope that a cover can withstand the force of a drop. I went over to a few sites to look for a happy medium, and I found Mivizu over at Facebook. They have a sleek case called the sense. It looks a lot like the smart cover, only they were smarter. Mivizu wraps up the iPad2 with full grain leather. And the price wasn’t an appple ripoff. It is affordable priced at $39.99 with a $10.00 coupon and free shipping. Here is the code. FABIPAD2 at http://www.Mivizu.com/ . I ordered the pink one. Great review!

  • rac2703

    When I need the screen cleaned, I just fold my Smart Cover into a triangle and use it as a cloth. when its folded as a triangle is easy to hold and then just wipe away and marks without having to carry any extra cleaning clothes ect.

  • Ry

    No not with the smart cover,my Batt is no diff with or without it! Leaving wifi on all night will drain it from 80%+ to 0 over night though, same as my iPod touch 4th gen and my iphone4
    I also have the black leather smart cover and am in Australia on my ipad2 and also have the oily lines on my screen,

  • Appleseed

    The “smart cover” puts three lines on my screen where the folds don’t touch the screen. The lines are about 1/4 inch wide. Can they be cleaned off??

  • Jaime

    I have to agree with review. I’ve had it less than a week and have streaks. I’m a marketer so I constantly fold it back. I don’t know if Rigo wears gloves but its NATURAL for our hands to have oil on them.

  • SteveW928

    I’ve had mine less than 2 days and streaks are showing up. I was quite careful with it, so I almost have to believe it is coming from the cover itself somehow. I’ve now started using it folded back behind, as, now, who cares! I actually don’t that much… as I just wipe the screen every day or two with a soft cloth (or my shirt, heh), etc. I was just curious, though, so purposely was careful the first day or so. Streaks. Not a big deal, just odd IMO.

  • SteveW928

    Looked at everything else I could find… just bought the Smart Cover. I love it. IMO, the point of it isn’t to be a case, but a bit of screen protection (not that it needs it that bad), but as a nicer way to carry the iPad** with a built-in stand. Now I just have to get a sleeve for tossing it in my backpack or when traveling. In the mean time, I think I’ll pick up a bubble envelope at the post office.

    ** When carrying the iPad between meetings, etc. it feels a bit odd without something to cover the face… which the Smart Cover does really well… and works great at the next meeting without having to remove it from anything… but without the clunky-ness of most cases that try to cover the whole iPad. I guess the other covers might be great for the paranoid or people who baby their computers… but for me, the Smart Cover is perfect along with a sleeve for when it really does need the protection.

  • Brown

    I think the Smart cover it not worth it. The magnet is not very strong. I was holding mine open and the iPad disengaged and dropped and the front of my new iPad glass is shattered. Not so smart. Then Apple wouldn’t replace it…told me it would cost $320!!! Mac sure did disappoint me, and this was my second iPad …never again

  • Edison Cevallos

    Adjust the angle so you can see it better… How can I when I’m using my iPad 2 to read this article’ meaning I have a display with amazing IPS technology?! People…

  • Brian Pinard

    The case is designed to be used on a table… perhaps you should have looked into alternatives before purchasing that doesn’t suit your needs.

    In addition, if you take issue with the design of a certain product, write a letter to corporate.  Rather than assuming the Genius was being snotty, understand that he/she has to see lots of people every day, and some of them are incredibly difficult to deal with. 

    Your case was performing as designed, which is why you correctly interpreted his response as dismissive.

  • top10topten

    Great . Here is a list of Top 10 iPad Covers and Sleeves : http://www.top10topten.com/top
    You may like it.

  • lindy nian

    iPad 2 smart cover is great , i got mine  for $14.59 +free shipping, good price with good quality, highly recommend!
    Check here: http://www.casesinthebox.com/i

  • Jaleel

    Go here for a the best review. You won’t regret clicking
    http://www.epinions.com/review

  • Dwilkie

    Awesome. Works perfectly! But, I imagine we’ll have to clean the underside of the Smart Cover some day soon as it collects all that finger print smudge grease. But, it works to clean the glass like a charm. It seems built for that but I had never heard of that before. Thanks.

  • Greg

    I thought I was an idiot for using the microfiber side of the smart cover to make that nifty little triangle so I could prop my iPad up. Low and behold through apples infinite wisdom that is exactly what they show in the advertisement for the iPad smart cover. Then it dawned on me… To save the screen from grease and dirt, why not make the little triangle using the neoprene side instead? Since I’ve been using that method I see my iPad screen attract less dirt and oils from the microfiber side. I hope this helps some users out there.

  • Jew

    That is the stupidest thing I have EVER heard before!! Who is their right mind would voluntarily hold it open dangling in the air? Don’t tell me you were reading or something because who can read sideways! And I have sadly dropped mine on more than one occasion and there was no shattered glass or even a dent. Where did you drop this from the top if the empire state building?!

    No offense, but our lack of intelligence should be the only thing that disappoint you! Apple’s not the crazy one!!! This is why people shouldn’t bother reading consumer reviews – judging by the comments people probably aren’t on the same “level”!!!!

  • iphone cover

    thank you

  • iphone cover

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  • tradesteady

    You may have this from http://www.dealmelody.com with a low cost.. free shipping also..

About the author

David W. MartinDavid W. Martin has more than 20 years of experience in the industry as a programmer, systems and business analyst, author, and consultant. David has written for CNET's iPhoneatlas.com, MacLife.com, CultofMac.com, BYTE.com and recently for aNewDoman.net. He comes to Cult of Mac's website with deep knowledge and passion for the all things Apple. Follow David on Twitter @david_w_martin or see what he's up to now at davidwmartin.com.

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