I have been rather impressed with Gear4 products. I have been lucky enough to check out a few of their iPhone cases and have always found that they manage a nice balance between being very rugged, but not massively overbuilt. So when I got the opportunity to get my hands on the new Gear4 Buckingham iPad case for my Air 2, expectations were high.
The Buckingham features the same DSO “smart material” that Gear4 uses in their phone cases and purports to meet military standards at keeping your tech safe from being dropped. This wallet style case is almost identical to the Oxford model that my phone is currently encased within and I have been very happy with that.
As soon as I received the package from Tech Addicts HQ, I noticed something was up. It felt much heavier than I was expecting. It’s not uncommon for us to receive several products for review at the same time and, although I wasn’t expecting anything else, I thought this was maybe the case. Nope. Just the Buckingham. Now, Gear4 do package their products very robustly, so maybe it’s the packaging. After opening it, it still felt rather heavy so out came the scales. The case weighed in at a rather chunky 427g. That may not seem like much, but to put it into context, the iPad air 2 weighs around 440, so the case weighs almost the same as the device!
In fairness, it does feel like a very sturdy case and I would certainly have faith in its ability to keep my iPad secure. The iPad sits snugly inside the holder and the wrap around cover stays closed thanks to a magnetic tab and offers the very handy sleep/wake function. It’s a great looking case, nicely styled without going over the top and does not add significant bulk to the ipad. I did like the flat black with blue accents on the front and the card/note holders inside the cover. I wasn’t sure at first about the tab, it seemed to get in the way, but after a short while, I kinda got used to it. The cover also acts as a stand for the iPad, although I found that the material on the inside cover was too soft and not grippy enough to stop the screen from slipping flat. Perhaps this is something that would improve with time as the case wears in. Another little niggle that is common to most of these style cases is the access to the buttons.
Another little niggle that is common to most of these style cases is the access to the buttons along the edge of the iPad. The thick DSO material actually works against the Buckingham in this respect. The controls themselves are covered, but there are raised “virtual buttons” on the cover directly over them with the idea being that you press on the case and it, in turn, presses on the actual button. This works in theory, but in practice, I have always found that you have to press a few times and generally rather firmly before anything happens. Truth be told, I have become so frustrated with them in the past that I have taken a craft knife and removed them, leaving recessed access to the controls. Elegant? No, but it does work.
Overall I liked the Buckingham, I liked it a lot in fact, but the burning question is did I keep it on my iPad or did I revert back to the relatively simple Targus cover that I had been using?
As much as I like the Buckingham, and as fond as I am of super protective cases, I personally did not like the extra weight it added. It is a lot more protective than most cases, including the one I am currently using, but it is also double the weight. This makes it a judgement call. If weight isn’t a factor for you, or you need that extra protection, then I say go for it, you won’t be disappointed with it. However, if your daily carry bag is already feeling a bit on the hefty side, you may want to look at other options.