As much as I love Apple's Smart Cover magtastic attraction and it keeping my iPad 2's large and vulnerable screen protected while I'm not using it, it still leaves much to be desired. Let's not forget the biggest concern anyone who owns a Smart Cover has is how exactly will you keep the beautiful aluminum back of your iPad 2 scratch and dent-free. There are numerous options out there for you to choose from to do exactly that, but we've got yet another option for you straight from SGP. Out good friends over at Cretouch have sent yet another leather goodie for us to review, and it's called the Griff by SGP. Catch the full review right after the cut!
There are many cases for the iPad 2 that provide back protection and are Smart Cover friendly, the Griff is one of those. Unlike other offerings such as SwitchEasy's CoverBuddy, the Griff is made out of leather and supported by a hard yet very durable polycarbonate shell. The Griff is really geared towards those who already own a Smart Cover and want that extra back protection. It wouldn't make much since to look at the Griff is you're not using a Smart Cover with your iPad 2. I'll talk more about why you shouldn't consider getting the Griff if you don't use a Smart Cover with your iPad 2 later in the review. The Griff is available in every Smart Cover color to best match itself with your Smart Cover. Even though I'm using an orange Smart Cover, I thought a black Griff case would compliment it really nicely. So it does.
Lets talk about the leather quality. I've had the pleasure of reviewing quite a few leather offerings from SGP in the past, and I've become a really big fan of the quality leather that SGP uses in their various cases and sleeves. The full grain leather feels, looks and smells great. Not to mention that for the $49.99 price tag the Griff endures, the craftsmanship and leather is top notch. But don't expect it to be an expensive Vaja case.
To say that the Griff is a simple back cover protection for the iPad 2 is an understatement, it's much more than that. The attention to detail SGP has put into the Griff really shows in the end result. You'll find a built-in speaker mesh grill that creates a finished look instead of just having a wide cutout to expose the iPad 2's back facing speaker. If I had one thing to change about the Griff, it would have to be the embossed writing on the back. I think it's too cluttered and really unnecessary to have all of those writings all bunched up on the back. I'm surprised SGP didn't emboss some of those on the inside of the case like it does with all of its other cases and sleeves. Sadly, the steep contours of the iPad 2 and the Griff's design will not allow you to use other 3rd party USB sync cables with the tight dock connector cutouts.
It's safe to say that all of the cutouts made for the sleep/wake, volume, rotation/silent buttons and the back facing camera are all perfectly cut and allow you to easily reach every single one of them. I should note that the same issue I've noticed with the dock connector port cutouts is present also for the headphone port. It's too tight and you'll only be able to use those slimmed down 3.5mm jacks.
On the inside of the Griff is where you'll find the smooth, soft Micro Fiber Chamude interior lining that will keep your iPad 2's aluminum back scratch-free. If you're wondering about the fit of the iPad 2 inside of the Griff, it's pretty much the best, tight fitting fit you can find in a leather back protective case for the iPad 2. The iPad 2 fits snugly into the Griff and held very securely. It helps that the leather interior edging lets you snap the Griff onto your iPad 2 without any effort or fear of damaging your iPad 2.
In terms of front screen coverage when you're not using your Smart Cover, the Griff will slightly elevate the front screen thanks to the surrounding leather edging that will offer a little bit of a front lay-on-the-table design. Because of how the Griff is designed to be compatible with the Smart Cover, there's a large opening made on the left side of the case which exposes a part of the iPad 2's side bezel. This is also why you shouldn't be considering the Griff or any other Smart over compatible case for the matter. You've got less protection this way without the use of a Smart Cover. Further more, the Griff doesn't cover the top and bottom edge of the iPad 2's aluminum bezel. In case you drop your iPad 2 inside the Griff, you won't need to worry about those opened parts damaging your iPad 2 because they are still fairly recessed inside the case.
I'm glad to report that I've had no issues fully using the Smart Cover's stand capabilities with the Griff. The two together make a perfect combination of protection and versatile usability.
The only thing that should keep you from not getting the Griff for your iPad 2 is personal preference. You should definitely consider the Griff is you want a good quality leather Smart Cover compatible case that not only looks good, but also doesn't add bulk while still offering solid protection for your iPad 2. When you mix the leather Griff case with a leather Smart Cover, it's like having the perfect combination an iPad 2 user could ever wish for. That is if you already own a Smart Cover, because it can turn out to be an expensive purchase if you deliberately buy both just so you can impress your friends.