The iPad Pro is a curious device. Apple pitches it as a computer but there are some things it doesn’t do nearly as well as a traditional notebook or desktop PC. But, nonetheless, it’s a device many people like to use as their second system when they’re away from the main base. The OtterBox Symmetry is a hard case that protects the back of the iPad Pro without compromising its ability to connect with the optional-but-necesasry Smart Keyboard.
The Symmetry adds about 5mm to each side of the iPad Pro 10.5-inch I tested it with. The edges feel solid but have a slight sponginess that help absorb the shock of a sudden impact. All the connectors, speaker grids, microphones and cameras have convenient cut-outs so they work as expected. The case is a very snug fit, as you’d expect, which does make removing the iPad from the case challenging. However, I’d expect that people who need a ruggedised case will keep their iPad in the Symmetry most of the time.
It’s also important to note this case offers drop protection but not much else. There’s no protection for the display and, as it only covers the back of the iPad, there’s no dust or waterproofing either. That’s not a criticism – but if you’re looking for a truly ruggedised solution this isn’t the right case. I’d suggest this is a good option for most people who take their iPad Pro out or for students who use their tablet at school or uni where accidents can (and often do) happen.
The edge of the Symmetry is removable so you can still use the case with a Smart Keyboard. As far as I could tell in my testing, there was no difference in how the keyboard connected or operated while the iPad was in the case. However, if you remove the keyboard, you’ll need to extract the iPad from the case in order to attach a small panel that needs to be removed when the keyboard is attached.
In addition, there’s an elasticised holder for the Apple Pencil which is handy but quite tight. That’s good as it means you’re unlikely to lose the Pencil but it does make it challenging to put the stick away when you’re in a hurry.
One of the things we’ve been fed by the marketing machines of device makers is that thinner devices are better. But when the iPad Pro is ensconced in the Symmetry, I found it a little easier to handle even though it added about 164g to the iPad’s 477g. The hard plastic shell made it easier to grip as the material offered a little more friction that the iPad Pro’s aluminium back.
Price and availability
The OtterBox Symmetry Case for the 10.5-inch iPad Pro is only available through Apple. It’s not even listed on OtterBox’s website. And it will set you back $109.95 which sounds like a lot to me. But given the least expensive iPad Pro 10.5-inch costs almost $1000, that’s cheaper than a replacement device should the iPad meet with a percussive incident.