Another new Apple tablet, another race to make cases for it.
Many of the first cases for the Air are simply tweaks on earlier cases companies have already released for the iPad 3/4 and iPad Mini. But a few are brand-new designs.
A few of the cases in this roundup aren't available quite yet, but we've received several samples and expect plenty more on the way. As always, we'll be updating this list as new, worthy products come in.
Click the arrow above (or the image) to see the picks.
Apple's iPad Air Smart Case comes in polyurethane and leather versions for $39 and $79, respectively. Pricing aside -- no, they're not cheap -- they're among the best cases out there. Like Apple's previous Smart Cases, the auto-wake cover folds into a stand, and there's a microfiber lining "that helps keep your display clean." Both versions come in six different colors.
The case shouldn't be confused with the Smart Cover, which only protects the front of your iPad (I'm more partial to the Smart Case, though if you want to save some money and keep your device as slim as possible with minimal protection, the Smart Cover is always an option).
Belkin's FreeStyle Cover is an intriguing option because it's thin and made of two different pieces. The first is a back cover with an integrated magnet, which adheres to a separate slim cover that converts into a stand. That magnet mechanism lets you easily switch from landscape to portrait view when propping up your device.
This one wasn't available when the iPad Air launched on November 1, but should be shipping soon, so consider this a sneak peek.
We liked Belkin's Ultimate Keyboard case for the iPad 3/4, and it will soon be available for the iPad Air. No, it doesn't come cheap, but the key here is that it's thin and also has a back cover for those looking to protect both the front and back of their iPad Air.
Belkin also makes two other keyboard cases/covers for the iPad Air, including the more affordable Qode Slim Style Keyboard Case ($79.99). I also like the company's simple folio cases, so check out the whole line.
If you don't want to spend a lot, there will be plenty of simple, affordable TPU cases for the iPad Air. BoxWave's cases just protect the back of your iPad, but it also makes a back cover version that works with Apple's Smart Cover. Available in a few different color options, including translucent.
DodoCase is a pioneer in book-bound-style cases, which it offers in various finishes and color options. In an effort to offer even more customization options, the company has launched its "Build-A-Dodo" program, which allows you to design your own case.
If you don't want to shell out for an Apple-branded Smart Case, you can always get one of the several knocks that are available, including the Fintie SmartShell, which comes in several different colors and costs only about $13. Even if the faux-leather finish isn't all that snazzy, this is a functional case with a price that's hard to beat.
If this model isn't cheap enough for you, you can opt for the Poetic version for $6.95. Or, better yet, Amazon is selling a Fintie Folio case as a 99-cent add-on item (you must purchase $25 worth of products to add it to your cart). That folio case arguably isn't quite as good as this one, but if you're ordering something on Amazon, you might as well throw one in your cart if you know anybody with an iPad Air.
My favorite Incipio iPad case for the previous generation iPads was the LGND. And now a version is available for the iPad Air in a few different color options. Like other origami-style cases, this ones folds back into a stand.
Gumdrop and Hard Candy make a few different colorful and highly protective iPad and iPhone cases. My favorite is the Drop Tech Series because it has a built-in screen cover and makes you feel like you can hand it to your kid and feel somewhat confident that he or she won't destroy it. Available in a few different color options.
Kensington's serving up several cases for the iPad Air. I find its standard folio cases a little plain, but its top-of-the-line KeyFolio Exact stands out for being slim and having backlit keys in the "plus" version. And to spice things up a little you can choose from seven different color options for the keys' backlight. Unfortunately, that extra cool factor brings with a nice little price bump, but hey, it certainly is an attention grabber.
Logitech has unveiled four new cases for the iPad Air, three of which have built-in keyboards: the FabricSkin Keyboard Folio, Ultrathin Keyboard Cover, Ultrathin Keyboard Folio, and Folio Protective Case.
The company says its Ultrathin Keyboard Cover is the best-selling keyboard case for earlier-generation iPads. It's definitely thin, but I prefer my keyboard case to protect the back of my iPad, not just the front, so I'm more partial to the Ultrathin Keyboard Folio (I also like the FabricSkin Keyboard Folio). But that's just me.
Alas, the Moshi Versacover is pretty pricey, but it is one of my favorite cases (I use the blue one on an iPad Mini). It's an origami-style case that's thin and stylish and has nice microfiber finish (yes, the back folds into a stand). Moshi has made some small design tweaks to this and its others cases for the iPad Air.
As you'd expect, OtterBox is serving up its iPad tough case, the Defender, for the iPad Air, which has a built-in screen protector along with a separate screen cover that that converts into a stand. It comes in three color options and will be available later this fall.
Like DodoCase, Pad & Quill makes a number book-bound-style cases in various finishes and color options. The company prides itself on the fact that its cases are made in the US (St. Paul, Minn.) and that it's a family operation.
Tough cases for the iPad Mini are gradually arriving and the Pelican ProGear Vault Series is a strong competitor to the OtterBox's Defender Series case. This one isn't waterproof but it is water-resistant. Available in a few different colors.
Note: This case was due to ship in late December but may not be available until early 2014.
Speck's Folio cases were among my favorites for the iPad Mini and now the company has tweaked the design with the introduction of the StyleFolio for the Air. This case converts into a stand and has an improved clasp to keep the cover closed when your iPad isn't in use. Earlier folio cases from Speck left part of the back of your iPad exposed when in stand mode, but the new model keeps everything covered.
I use the earlier version of this case with my iPad 3 and it's held up well. What I like about it is that it's both thin and sturdy and has a built in kickstand for video watching. Available in multiple colors.
STM recently introduced this case for the iPad Mini and now it comes in an iPad Air version (editor Scott Stein and I have used it with the Mini and like it). It's relatively svelte, converts into a stand, and has a magnet clasp that keeps the cover securely closed. Available in a few different trim colors.