Like the original version, the iPad mini Smart Cover relies on magnets built into the iPad itself. Magnets in the hinge of the cover cling to the left edge of the iPad (as you face it in portrait mode); magnets on the right edge lock the cover to the iPad, and cause it to wake up automatically when you open the cover.
The iPad mini Smart Cover is available in pink, light gray, dark gray, green, blue, and (Product) red. Its available only in polyurethane; there are no leather options. As with the current slate of iPad Smart Covers unveiled with the iPad 2, the iPad mini Smart Covers bear the same color on both sidesthe interiors are dyed, screen-cleaning and protecting microfiber cloth.
The original Smart Cover sports three creases at which it can fold. The smaller iPad mini Smart Cover instead employs just two. You can still fold the smaller cover into a triangle shape similar to the one used by the original, which in turn allows you to prop the iPad in one of two positions: at a low incline for typing, and at a steep one for watching video. Because it has one fewer fold, the iPad mini Smart Covers triangle has no overlapping sides the way the original cover does, but in my testing that didnt make the smaller cover any less sturdy when folded up.
The hinge on the iPad mini Smart Cover is different from the hinge on its predecessor. The original cover used a thin bit of cloth wrapped around an exposed metal hinge, and that metal hinge could occasionally scuff up the metal edge of the iPad itself. The iPad mini Smart Cover instead reveals no exposed metal on the hinge; though theres clearly a magnet in there to make it stick to the iPad mini, its fully ensconced by fabric.
One side effect of this change is that the iPad mini Smart Cover doesnt cling to the tablet with the satisfying click the original cover made. A more significant side effect is that a Smart Cover-clad iPad mini is more comfortable to hold than a Smart Cover-clad full-sized iPad, with no metal edges to dig into your skin.
As I alluded to at the outset, though, in several key ways, the iPad mini Smart Cover is worse than its forerunner. My biggest objection is that theres no ideal way to fold the cover behind the iPad mini when you actually want to use the tablet. With the original, four-panel Smart Cover, you could fold the cover across itselfalmost exactly down the middleand the two halves would magnetically adhere to each other. That fold would offer a slim and grippy surface on the rear of the left side of the iPad, adding negligible thickness to the device.
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