With school out for summer break, kids are likely to be more attached to their iPads and tablets than ever. And with that comes the potential for damage, whether it's simply a cracked screen or a drowned-in-the-pool totally dead device. There's no question that kids + delicate technology = expensive repair or replacement.
My rough-and-tumble 5-year-old twins have iPads, and I've been very concerned about them getting broken—and the bill I'll be faced with if they do. That’s why I set out to find the best iPad case for kids: something that will protect the screen from dings, scratches, dents, and drops, is easy to carry around, and above all is usable by little hands.
We started by researching the most popular and well-reviewed cases, ultimately putting the best of the best through some intense testing involving some wince-inducing drops, scissors, and every parent’s nemesis: peanut butter. After also cleaning and using the cases, we found the OtterBox Kids' EasyGrip(available at Walmart) to be the best option for kids. It’s durable enough to stand up to the hardest use, and it has lots of features that make it ideal for kids on the go.
Here are the best iPad cases for kids we tested ranked, in order:
OtterBox Kids' EasyGrip
Cantis 7th Generation
Seymac 7th Generation
If you’re looking for a case to keep your kids’ iPads safe from bumps, drops, and spills, then this is the one for you. This case has everything that kids will need: a durable padded exterior, a hard plastic interior, a stand, and a handle. It also has something they don’t need, but will absolutely love. The handle attaches to the back of a car’s headrest, so they can hang their iPad to watch on long car rides, which is one of the more innovative features we’ve seen on a case.
The controls are easily accessible and reliable, even for little fingers. I let my 5-year-olds each play some games on the iPad 8 in the case and they had no problems changing the volume, using the screen, or turning it on and off. There’s plenty of space to plug and unplug the charging cable and there’s no impediment to the camera.
In our durability tests, nothing left so much as a mark. I stabbed the material with scissors, scratched at it with my fingernails, smeared and cleaned peanut butter off of it, and dropped it at several different angles. The case and iPad both still look like I just took them out of the box. The OtterBox EasyGrip should protect your tablet from just about anything your kids will do to it.
The real drawback is the price. At $60, this case costs more than double the cost of the other kids’ cases we tested. And that’s before factoring in an extra $40 for the optional screen protector.
There’s no question that it’s a well-designed, high quality case, and if it’s in your budget, I highly recommend it.
My name is Jean Levasseur, and I’m a stay-at-home dad to my 5-year-old twin boys. When I’m not wrangling them, I teach writing part-time at a local university, and work as a freelance product reviewer for Reviewed focusing on tools and technology.
Our focus in the testing revolved around two questions: can my kids actually use the tablets in these cases, and how well will each of these cases stand up to everyday abuse?
We started by looking for some of the best-selling and best-rated cases online. Each one had greater than a four-star rating, nearly all of them with thousands of verified user reviews that we checked for authenticity. We also chose a blend of target ages to test in order to find out if the ones made for kids were really better for kids (spoiler alert: they were).
In our actual testing, we designed a series of tasks to mimic regular use. First, we had to actually install our iPad into each case, and made a note of how difficult that was to do. None of them were major feats, but a few certainly would have been beyond the capability of younger children.
Then we sat down and used the tablet in each case for a while. I played some games, browsed the internet, watched some videos on YouTube, and took some pictures. While I was using the tablet, I made sure to use all of the external buttons—power, volume, and home—as well as plugging in the charger, and took note of any cases that hindered any of those base functions.
Once I was comfortable with each case, I called my kids in and let them each play one of their games for fifteen or twenty minutes. We also put the tablets into both theirs and my backpacks, and practiced carrying each one around the house.
After the core usage tests were done, we started on the “destructive” tests. First, I stabbed the protected areas of each case with a pair of scissors multiple times, looking to see if the scissors could penetrate any part of the case. From there, I smeared peanut butter on each one, waited a few minutes, and then tried to clean it off—because we all know there is no end to the stickiness that children can get into. Finally, I removed each tablet from the case, again making note of how difficult it was to actually get it out.
For the final round of testing, we selected our top two for the big one—the drop tests. The goal wasn’t to push the tablet until it broke, but to verify that a tablet would survive a typical fall unscathed. We performed multiple drops with each case from a height of about a foot, making sure that it landed both on the edge and flat on its back.
What You Should Know About iPad Cases For Kids
Like everything else in parenting, no two iPad cases are alike. They all have their own features and focus areas, and you want to make sure that you know what you’re looking for before you buy.
How Should my iPad Case Fit?
First thing’s first: not all iPad cases fit all iPads. Make sure that the case you’re ordering is made for your iPad. There is a difference between an iPad Air, an iPad 7, and an iPad Pro, and the cases aren’t necessarily cross-compatible, even if the product listing says that it is. So double- and triple-check that you have the case you need before you click that Buy button.
Integrated Screen Protectors
Next up: a screen protector. Though some people may not realize it, not all cases come with integrated screen protection. Which is fine—there are a wide variety of inexpensive screen protectors that you can find. And the best part about one of those third-party protectors is if something happens to them, you can just get a new one. The protectors built into the case aren’t necessarily replaceable. If they get damaged, you’ll need to replace the whole case.
That said, if you choose to go with a third-party screen protector, there is a small gap where something damaging could still get to your iPad. They also may not work well together, and the case may cause the screen protector to peel up prematurely. So before you buy, make sure you have thought about whether you want an integrated screen protector or not.
Handles Are Perfect for Those On-The-Go
The next item to consider is a handle. For most adult users, handles aren’t terribly important—tablets fit easily in backpacks and larger purses, and aren’t that hard to carry around even without a bag. However, if you anticipate having to carry your iPad by hand for long periods of time, or you’re buying for a child who might be on the move with their tablet, a handle is something to seriously consider. After testing, handles on my kids’ cases are a must-have, which I hadn’t thought would be the case beforehand.
Consider What Kind of Accessories You Want
Then, there are the accessories. We looked at cases with shoulder straps, hand straps, stylus holders, stands, and easy integration with other components like keyboards or covers. A lot of those features are cool, but you have to really consider whether they are actually worth paying extra for.
Do you actually ever use the Apple Pencil with your iPad? Are you planning to get a keyboard? Is a shoulder strap something you can ever imagine using? Having the right features can be invaluable—but paying extra for features you won’t ever use is just a waste. So consider your typical uses and pick up a case that matches that.
Choose a Trusted Manufacturer
Finally, there’s the manufacturer to consider. There’s something to be said for buying from an established manufacturer, like Otterbox, but big brands often charge a premium. There are loads of cheaper options made overseas for every device, including the iPad. Often, these cheap "white label" products are made by a different company and then bought by the resellers you see on Amazon, which is why two seemingly different companies can sell you the exact same case.
Other iPad Cases for Kids We Tested
Cantis iPad 7th Gen 10.2 Case
From a pure useability standpoint, the Cantis is one of my favorites. It is sleek with a good pop of color (we tested the red one), and is appropriate for any level of professional environment. Usability-wise, it is comfortable and easy to use. All of the buttons are accessible and worked 100% of the time. Like many other cases, there’s no integrated screen protector, but at this price, adding one certainly wouldn’t break the budget. It features fold-away flaps to protect the charging and audio jack ports from getting dirt and dust in them, and it was slim and comfortable in my hand.
I only had two minor complaints. First, it’s a bit harder to get on and off than some others, but that’s because it’s actually two pieces. The iPad is contained inside a hard plastic shell which is then wrapped in shock-absorbing rubber. Fitting the rubber into the groove of the plastic took a bit of time. However, it also meant that there was no chance that scissors, or anything else stabby, can puncture through to the tablet itself, and it breezed through our drop testing without even a dent. You’d be hard-pressed to find a way to damage your iPad through this case.
My second issue is even less important. The stand took quite a bit of force to open. That said, I could imagine that is something that will loosen up over time, and once open it holds the tablet at a comfortable angle in either orientation.
For an adult user, this is the case that I would pick out of the bunch. The lack of a handle, however, means that I don’t think it’s a great option for young kids. I hadn’t expected the handle to be as useful for the kids as it was, but it will be a must-have for any case that I purchase for their tablets.
OtterBox iPad (7th gen) Symmetry Series Clear Case
Otterbox is one of the leading and most trusted names in device cases. They’re also one of the more expensive. The Symmetry case for the iPad is a sleak, unobtrusive, easy-to-hold option with an aesthetic geared toward a professional environment. It’s easy to take on and off, a breeze to clean, and comfortable to hold while using the screen with one or both hands. What’s more, it’s natively compatible with Apple’s Smart Keyboard and Smart Cover and has storage for the Apple Pencil built right in, if those are accessories that you’re looking for.
It’s also two or three times the price of everything else we tested.
The biggest downside of this case, aside from the expensive price tag, was that the volume and top power buttons were very hard to engage. I had to press them almost at an angle, and they didn’t reliably activate the controls. Trying to use the volume buttons with just one hand was even more frustrating as I kept having to touch the screen with my palm to get enough leverage.
If kids are going to be the primary users of this case, then that difficulty with the buttons will only be magnified. Add that to the fact that there’s no handle to help little hands hold on, and this simply doesn’t seem like a great option, particularly not at that cost.
This is a basic, solid case seemingly designed for one thing—absorbing impacts. There aren’t really any frills here—it slips on and off the iPad easily and quickly, doesn’t have a screen protector, and doesn’t have any accessories except for an oversized handle.
That handle, while comfortable and easy to hold, did make it a tight fit going into my children’s backpacks, but it did fit with the zipper closed. The handle also turns 90 degrees, serving as a shallow-angle stand for landscape mode when using it at a desk.
It was easy enough for my kids to carry, hold, and use the tablet. The only day-to-day use drawback that I saw was that the case presses up against the charging cable when it’s plugged in—that made it a bit more difficult to charge than the others, and I could see that causing issues further down the line.
Speaking of “down the line”, while the case seems to be well-made, the polyurethane material did seem like it would be prone to cracks and wear, so I don’t imagine that it will last indefinitely. While it protected the iPad inside from a stab with scissors, the scissors did puncture pretty far into the material. I was also able to peel chunks of it up very easily with just a fingernail, which some kids may do instinctively.
It could be a fine choice for kids, but not something I would anticipate making it through elementary school without needing to be replaced.
The Seymac iPad case is loaded with features designed to appeal to kids and adults alike. There are three handle options that come with this case. There is an adjustable hand strap on the back to hold while using it. There is a short carrying strap. And if you’re planning to carry it for longer periods, you can unclip the short carrying strap and replace it with a much longer over-the-shoulder strap.
It is also unique in that it includes two faceplates: one with a screen protector and one without. This allows the user to choose whether to use the integrated protector or a third-party option. Which is a good decision, because the integrated screen protector is, quite frankly, terrible.
It is loose against the screen, and for whatever reason my finger kept dragging against it. Touches regularly didn’t register, to the point that my kids came to complain to me about it. There is a similar issue with the volume controls—every seventh or eighth push, it simply doesn’t register.
Numerous features don’t make up for a difficult and frustrating user experience, and this one doesn’t seem to be worth the purchase price.
Jean Levasseur became a professional writer over a decade-long career in marketing, public relations, and technical writing. After leaving that career to stay home to care for his twin boys, Jean has continued to write in a variety of freelance roles, as well as teaching academic writing at a local university. When he's not reviewing tools or chasing toddlers around the house, he's also an avid fiction writer and a growing woodworker.
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