When Thule told me that they were kindly sending me out a Atmos X3 iPad Air 2 case to review, I was filled with excitement. The Thule Atmos X3 case for the iPhone 6 Plus is undoubtedly my favorite overall case for the 6 Plus–the build quality and design of that case is just astonishingly good. So my expectations for the Thule Atmos X3 for iPad Air 2 were sky high…and I have to say that this case has met those expectations. What’s so great about it?
Somehow, Thule has managed to engineer this case such that it boasts 6.6 foot drop protection, while not making it look like a tank. It still feels slim in the hand, and is reasonably lightweight, but it is so comforting knowing that your expensive and delicate iPad Air 2 would be well protected in the event of an unfortunate drop.
Lovely, Grippy Exterior:
However great Thule’s drop protection is, you ideally don’t want to drop your iPad Air 2, and Thule’s excellent combination of materials makes it less likely that you will. The exterior is crafted from a combination of hard TPE rubber and plastic which provides an excellent grip when you are holding your device. The interior is mostly hard plastic, with some key areas rubberized, such as the slots for the folio stand. Overall, the construction feels top notch and you can see how Thule can offer a 25 year guarantee for its cases. Like its cousin, the Atmos X3 case for the iPhone 6/6+, this case will long outlive the device it is designed to protect.
Folio Cover Stays Closed:
So often, folio style cases fail to include a secure way to keep the cover closed when the device is not in use, placing the screen of your device in harm’s way. Those that include a closure mechanism usually use straps or magnets of some sort to keep the cover closed, and succeed to varying degrees. Thule went relatively low tech on this one–the cover just clips closed over the bottom section of the case holding the iPad, and stays quite firmly attached until you pull the two sides apart.
Excellent Folio Stand Design:
You wouldn’t be buying a folio stand case if you didn’t want the ability to prop up your iPad Air 2 in one or more stand positions, and the Thule Atmos X3 doesn’t disappoint with this one. There are five stand positions for the Atmos X3, including a low typing position. The section of the case which cradles the iPad fits securely into each of the five slots, with no slipping about. Furthermore, the fact that the folio cover, which of course morphs into the bottom of the stand, is a rigid piece of rubberized plastic makes the stand much more functional on soft or uneven surfaces. Folio stand cases with flexible covers which convert into stands are more difficult to use on your lap, or when lying in bed, because they tend to collapse if you change positions. This is obviously not the case with the Thule Atmos X3 case–it has a rock solid stand functionality.
Cover Folds Completely Flat Against the Back of the Case:
So many folio-style cases just don’t know what to do with their covers when you want to hold the iPad one-handed with the cover folded back. Some fold back, but the cover is not flush with the back of the device and feels extra bulky. Others fold flat, but the cover will not stay folded back without being held in place. Very few do what the Thule Atmos X3 case does–it nests the iPad cradle inside the cover, and just like when the Atmos X3 is in its closed position, the two nested sections stay firmly attached to one another until you pull them apart. There is even a little rubber tab to help you easily un-nest them. But when they are nested together, you can use the iPad Air 2 exactly the same as you would if it were in a case with no cover at all. It really works wonderfully. Which brings me to a really great point about this case…
The Camera Can Be Used with the Cover Folded Flat:
This is a huge deal–I haven’t seen another iPad Air 2 case which has this feature. When the iPad section is nested inside the cover, as described in the previous paragraph, you can use the iPad Air 2’s camera without any kind of limitation. Usually, if you are using a case which supports folding the cover flat against the back of the device, you can say goodbye to using the camera in that position. However, the Thule Atmos X3 case has a strategically placed hole in the front cover that lines up with the camera when the cover is folded flat against the back of the device. Does it pose a small risk of damage to the device’s screen when it is in the closed position? Theoretically, but in terms of impact protection, you would have to have awfully bad luck to hit the front of the case in exactly that spot–it really is a very small hole and there is a lot of protection around its sides.
Easy Access to All Port Openings and Buttons:
It is quite easy to access all the buttons and port opening on this case–the port openings are as precisely positioned as you would expect with a case of this quality and none of the buttons are covered. You could argue that they are not very well protected, because of this open design, but there is a lot of plastic and rubber around them which would take the brunt of any hit, and when the case is in its closed position, they are even better protected.
So what’s not so good about this otherwise fantastic case? The only quibble I have with it is its lack of an auto sleep/wake feature. This is not a deal-breaker by any means for me–I still think it is a wonderful case, but it would be nice to have. Perhaps Thule will include this feature in its next iteration. But overall, you really cannot go wrong with this case. It is fantastically well designed and a true pleasure to use. It is available directly from Thule for $69.95:
Finally, if you’d like more details on this outstanding case, here is a link to my YouTube review: