Comparing iPad cases: How to choose the right one for your needs?

By: Noa Nitzan 19, February 2015

One of the most common questions we get when consulting with parents and professionals about using an iPad for their child is “What is the best case to buy?”
In our opinion the case is an essential accessory and is one of the first things we recommend; It provides necessary protection to the device, especially when working with adults and children with disabilities. To be honest, I am happy I have one of these cases on my personal ipad. All of us (including our own children) experience slippery fingers once in a while, and you never know when your cat might hop onto your lap just when you’re holding your mug of coffee and reading The New York Times on your iPad.

In our kindergartens and classrooms we use sturdy cases for all our iPads and in fact, we require sturdy cases on all iPads that children bring from home. A good case provides the maximum available protection. But keep in mind, the device itself is quite fragile and no case is 100% effective.When buying a case it is important to mention to the store clerk the version of the iPad you are buying for. Not all iPads are the same shape and the case needs to match. For example, the iPad Air2 is a different shape than the iPad Air and they are both thinner than the iPad2 or iPad4 and thus the cases will be different.

So what do WE look for when buying a case?
We have found the most important features to be the quality of the material, the presence of an integrated screen protector and an integrated stand. The screen protector is very helpful in protecting the iPad glass from scratches, dirty fingers and saliva. If the case you find does not have its own screen protector, it is recommended to at least apply a screen protector sticker to the glass. These are available in the regular and tempered glass versions.
Another useful feature of a case is the availability of an integrated stand, providing a more ergonomic reading angle. It also provides stability to the device and frees the user’s hands.

It is important to keep in mind that a case adds weight to the device, may reduce the volume, and occasionally makes accessing the buttons more difficult, things that may be relevant depending on the user’s needs.
In addition to a case, it is also important to consider how the iPad is carried around, especially if the user uses the iPad as an AAC device and needs the iPad available at all times.
Here is a list of cases we have found the most useful:

Otterbox Defender

Otterbox Defender

Otterbox Defender

We really like this case and recommend it the most. It is very sturdy, has an integrated screen protector and also comes with a separate screen cover, so that when the iPad is not in use, there is extra protection for the screen, which can be useful when the iPad is stored in a backpack. As it is a separate piece, however, it has a tendency to get lost and staff need to be reminded to make sure it does not get misplaced. The screen cover also functions as a stand and provides three different angles of use. The Otterbox stand is very useful for typical use, but may not provide sufficient support for use by individuals with poor motor control or behavioral difficulties. At our school, the maintenance staff have built larger sturdier stands for us, for a variety of situations and users, which in turn has made our use of the screen cover mainly for protection rather than a stand. It is important to note that once in place, the case can be difficult to remove, which does need to happen once in a while to give the ipad a thorough cleaning. Another bonus to the Otterbox is the lifetime warranty.

Gumdrop

Gumdrop

Gumdrop

This case is sturdy and comfortable and comes with an integrated screen protector. Its silicone layer is on the outside, providing a nice non-slip surface. In the newer versions it also comes with an integrated stand for landscape use. The stand is part of the case as opposed to the Otterbox, whose stand is integrated into the screen cover. Here too, the stand is useful but not sturdy enough for users with behavioral difficulties or issues with motor control.

Big Grips

Big grip

Big Grips

This a foam case providing a thick frame-like protection around the iPad’s edges. It comes in a variety of bright colors, it is easy to grip and is lightweight. It does not have an integrated screen protector. It does come with its own stand that can be used in a variety of angles. The thick frame may be an obstacle for some users depending on their strength and wrist stability.

Griffin Survivor

Griffin

Griffin Survivor

This case is also quite sturdy and comes with an integrated screen protector. Unfortunately it has an awkward tab covering the camera, which is very difficult to hold open when taking photos. It may be useful to remove this tab completely to make the camera completely accessible. The Griffin also has a small stand that remains clipped on the device when not in use and is easily removed and repositioned for use. Again this stand may not be useful for individuals with poor motor control or behavioural issues.
In addition to the above, there are other cases that may be useful or appropriate for your users or therapeutic environment.

There are waterproof cases, such as “Life Proof”, and cases that include an amplifier, such as the Connect, GoNow, and AMDI iAdapter. A case with an amplifier is an important consideration when using the iPad for AAC, as heavy duty cases often reduce the output volume of the device, however these often significantly increase the size and weight of the device. If you do not use a case with an amplifier, it may be essential to use a Bluetooth speaker when using the iPad for AAC.

In summary, it is important to give consideration to the use of a good quality case, especially when using the device with individuals with disabilities. At Beit Issie Shapiro we primarily use the Otterbox Defender, but there are many good quality cases out there and we have seen many other cases in use in other institutions. Every case has its advantages and disadvantages, and the needs of the user must to be taken into account to find the best fit.

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