Grove passes on plastics to swaddle your iPad in suede and bamboo

Some people buy iPad cases for protection, others buy them to make their tablet look cool. This case falls in the latter, and if you’re looking to help your iPad survive a big fall, this is not the case for you. If you are feeling a little woody though, step right up because Grove has released its iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 Wooden Smart Case.

Like all its products, the Wooden Smart Case is made with bamboo, but this time around, Grove added Maple to the mix as well. The goal was to create a case that felt less bulky than its iPhone designs, but still have that completely wooden flair, right down to the power and volume buttons. It’s lined with suede on the inside and will shut your iPhone screen off like Apple’s Smart Covers.

Grove’s case is one of the classiest ways to dress your iPad Air or iPad Mini

We’ve been using the case on the iPad Air for a couple weeks now. When we first got it, we were a little weary that it might be too flimsy. Without the iPad it’s incredibly lightweight and feels almost like you could break it with your hands. But once you slip the iPad Air in, it looks and feels more like its $100 price tag.

Once attached, your iPad Air (or Mini) is about half an inch thick, which adds a little bulk to the naked iPad Air and takes up about a third of an inch in depth. The case has cutouts for the camera, charging port, mute switch, and audio jack. There are also a bunch of little holes for the speaker grill on the bottom and a single tiny hole for the microphone up top. We haven’t noticed any diminished sound quality from our iPad since it made its home inside the case. We understand cutouts are necessary for the toggle switch, but our favorite design element is the replacement volume and power buttons. Grove’s buttons pop up out and have a more satisfying click to them than Apple’s own iPad buttons.

The Wood Smart Case’s other special trick is its roll-back cover. Like Apple’s own Smart Cover, the wood cover bends backware and rolls up, allowing you to use it to prop up the iPad so you can watch things on it and set it down. When we first got it, the front cover was a little stiff and was scary to bend back. You have to stretch and pull back the wood a little more than seems right, and we were afraid we’d break it. But, it hasn’t broken yet. Thanks to specially designed grooves in the cover (it’s made of seven different pieces of wood), it bends backward without snapping.

If Grove can figure out a way to make a thin wooden keyboard, we’d never use another case. Until then, for those of you who have an extra $100 lying around and like the look and feel of wood, Grove’s case is one of the classiest ways to dress your iPad Air or iPad Mini – and it happens to be very functional, too. But much like a drop could take out your iPad, we’re pretty sure that a fall could crack or damage this case. Don’t buy it for heavy-duty protection.

Then again, Apple’s own Smart Case for iPad Air won’t provide much protection either, and it will run you about $80, or $20 less than Grove’s case.

If you’d like to learn more about Grove, check out Nick’s writeup on how they design their bamboo cases. He interviewed the company’s co-founders. We also have roundups of our favorite iPad Air Cases and iPad Mini Cases.

Product Review

The iPad Pro is the best tablet ever. But don't sell your laptop just yet

Apple has unveiled a big redesign for the iPad Pro, slimming down the bezels, adding Face ID, and the ability to attach and charge the Apple Pencil. All of this comes at a high cost however, as the iPad Pro starts at $799.
Mobile

The best iPhone XR cases to keep your phone shiny and new

Apple's new iPhone range is the toast of 2018, with beautiful style and more power than you can shake a stick at. But beauty can often be fragile -- keep the damage to a minimum with the best iPhone XR cases.
Deals

The best iPad deals for November 2018

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for November 2018.
Mobile

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we've rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.
Mobile

Lyft’s new rewards program promises ride discounts and comfier cars

If you're always hopping in and out of a Lyft car, then you'll be pleased to hear that the ridesharing service is about to launch a rewards program. Perks include discounts on future trips and upgrades to comfier cars.
Mobile

The world’s first smartglasses showrooms open in Brooklyn and Toronto

Canadian startup North is hoping smartglasses will be the next big wearable. After announcing its new Focals smartglasses in October, the company opened product showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto.
Photography

Get up close and personal with this telephoto lens for your phone

Moment is replacing its aging 60mm telephoto lens with a new 58mm tele lens, redesigned from the ground up for the latest iPhone, Pixel, and Galaxy phones. Mount it onto the phone via a case and get closer with 2x optical zoom.
Deals

Here are the best Apple Watch and Fitbit Versa deals for Black Friday

Apple products are the most sought-after products for Black Friday, the leaked preview ads show what discounts retailers will have for the Apple Watch Series 3 and other smartwatches, such as the Fitbit Versa, this holiday season.
Mobile

Master your new Nokia 7.1 with our favorite tips and tricks

At $350, the Nokia 7.1 is a nearly perfect budget phone. It has a gorgeous body, good hardware, and a capable camera. Recently purchased the Nokia 7.1? Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks to get you started with your new phone.
Mobile

Samsung Galaxy S10 could nix the notch in favor of a "punch hole" cutout

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.
Wearables

Check out 25 of the best Wear OS apps for your smartwatch

Looking for some ways to spruce up that new Android smartwatch of yours? Here are the best Wear OS apps to download and use with any Android smartwatch, including a few specially enhanced for Wear OS 2.0.
Mobile

Android will finally get a faster sharing menu, but it might take a while

The Android sharing menu has gotten a whole lot better over the years, but it's also gotten slower. Thankfully, however, it seems as though Google is working on a better, faster sharing menu but, unfortunately, it may take a while.
Computing

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement, or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.