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Hands-on with the STM Bags Grip 2 and Studio for the iPad Mini with Retina display

The iPad is a great device for media and to fully enjoy it I prefer to prop it up with a case. STM Bags makes several cases for the iPad Mini with Retina display and I had the chance to test a couple.
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1 of 18 Matthew Miller/ZDNET

STM Bags Grip 2 and Studio for the iPad Mini with Retina display

I love my Apple iPad Mini with Retina display and enjoying media is one of the ways I use it daily. A case capable of supporting the iPad Mini in landscape orientation so I can watch video content is required and STM Bags sent along a couple for me to test out.

Both the Grip 2 and Studio cases are book style with the iPad fitting in one side and a cover flipping over the display, as well as to the back to support propping up the iPad Mini.

If you have an iPad Mini with Retina display it is important that you look for cases for this 2nd generation iPad Mini. The thickness of this model is ever so slightly thicker, 0.3 mm to be exact, but this does make some cases incompatible with the Retina display model. I tried using a ZAGG Folio keyboard for the iPad Mini on my Retina display model and a couple days ago part of frame piece broke because of this slight increase in thickness. Both of these cases I reviewed are designed for the iPad Mini with Retina display.

Grip 2

The Grip 2 is available in lilac, yellow, red, and black. The color variants have the color applied along the hinge piece and inside the front cover that rests against the display. I was sent a black model to test out where everything is black, except for the inside front cover in gray soft material.

The back frame piece is durable plastic and the iPad Mini with Retina display snaps into place securely. There are openings for the camera on the back and all controls and ports around the edges so that no compromises are made when using the Grip 2.

The outside of the case is covered in soft touch material to make it easy to handle. There are also ridges on the front that act as stops for the hinge piece on the back. Speaking of the hinge piece, it is a long black piece of plastic that can be snapped out of the back and used at a few angles for viewing. The steepest angle is about 45 degrees up from vertical. The iPad can be laid down flat as well, but no steeper angles are supported with the Grip 2.

Auto on/off is supported when you open and close the front of the Grip 2. The case is very light weight and adds very little bulk to your iPad. You can purchase the Grip 2 for $39.99 from online retailers.

Studio

The Studio case for the Apple iPad Mini with Retina display is also available in multiple colors, including black, red, purple, and lime. The lime colored model arrived for testing.

The lime color is found on the front of the case, on the hinge piece, and on the magnetic lock piece. The rest of the case is dark gray.

Similar to the Grip 2 case, the iPad Mini with Retina display snaps into the back piece of the case. The same openings are cut out of the back piece of the Studio case so that all ports and buttons are accessible.

The lime front has a long magnetic piece that secures the front flap closed around the back of the case. This same magnet piece flips all the way around to the back and then attaches to the back. The rest of the front has two seams, similar to Apple’s official Smart Cover, so that it folds into a triangle shape to prop up the iPad Mini in landscape orientation.

The iPad sits up at a much steeper angle than the Studio, about 70 degrees to horizontal, and doesn’t feel as secure in this position. You can also flip the case and iPad down to achieve an angle of about 30 degrees for typing, rather than media viewing.

The Studio for iPad Mini with Retina display is available from online retailers for the same suggested retail price of $39.99.

Which one do I prefer?

I have been alternating between these two cases for most of the last couple weeks with my iPad Mini with Retina display and do have a slight preference for one over the other. I love the lime color, solid display protection, and easy magnetic closure of the Studio, but prefer the slightly sleeker form factor and more robust kickstand design of the Grip 2. Thus, if I was asked to choose between these two cases I would personally select the Grip 2.They are both very well constructed, nicely designed, and functional cases and I recommend you consider them for your iPad Mini or iPad Mini with Retina display.

Further reading

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Outer front and back of the Grip 2

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Inside of the front and back of the Grip 2

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Volume and lock switch access

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Headphone jack access

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Ridged front of the Grip 2

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Back of the Grip 2 with hinge snapped in the closed position

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Grip 2 propped up for video viewing

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Opening in the bottom

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Outside of the front and back of the Studio

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Inside of the front and back of the Studio

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Lime color on the hinge and closure pieces

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iPad propped up with the Studio hinge

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Low angle use with the Studio

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Camera opening and upper magnetic closure

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Bottom openings in the Studio

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Lime green Studio case in hand

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Back piece of the Grip 2 on top of the Studio

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