ClamCase’s ClamCase Pro for iPad mini ($ 129) looks the same as its ClamCase Pro for iPad Air (review) — just smaller, of course. It’s a hard plastic case connected to a plastic-and-aluminum Bluetooth keyboard, with a hinge that allows for a variety of viewing positions. The lithium-ion battery is promised to last for months on one charge, using an included micro-USB cable to recharge. And just like the iPad Air version, ClamCase Pro for iPad mini comes with a high price tag, which is a particular issue given both the lower price of the mini and the major compromises made by mini-sized keyboards.
Like the iPad Air version of the case, ClamCase Pro for iPad mini offers three modes: a laptop mode with your choice of viewing angle, a tablet mode which keeps the keyboard tucked behind the iPad, and a video stand mode between the two. Of course, the keyboard can also fold down onto the iPad to cover the tablet completely. The hard shell case also offers button coverage and all the proper port cutouts, so the iPad mini can be used fully.
As in the larger version, the keyboard here is very sharp looking, with a sandblasted aluminum finish. You almost feel as if you’re looking at a Mac keyboard, which is a major plus. Bluetooth wireless pairing is pretty fast — turn on the small side switch, then hold the function and command keys for a few seconds to make the keyboard discoverable. Additionally, the case/keyboard combination works to automatically trigger the sleep/wake function of the iPad.
There are many similarities between the ClamCase Pro for iPad Air and iPad mini, but the biggest difference should be obvious — keyboard size. The iPad Air version has a keyboard that measures 7.3″ horizontally by 9.74″ vertically, while the iPad mini version is 5.93″ by 8.17″. Losing that space means sacrificing a row of function keys, which have moved to the number keys. The size and location of the keys also change, of course, with the most notable issue being the tiny return key, which is the same size as the letter keys. For users with medium-to-large hands, typing more than a quick note could be troublesome. This iPad mini keyboard issue isn’t unique to ClamCase, but it’s an issue nonetheless, and really calls into question the value of a physical keyboard given that typing on the bare mini in portrait orientation isn’t that difficult.
As far as iPad mini keyboards go, ClamCase Pro for iPad mini is an okay option. It’s a well-built solution, and does what it promises to do without a hitch. But iPad mini keyboards in general often leave a lot to be desired, simply due to their reduced sizes; this one is the same, not capable of delivering a typing experience that’s definitively superior to the unaided mini in portrait mode. And as with the iPad Air version of this keyboard case, the price here is quite high. Together, these factors drag an otherwise good concept into only “okay” rating territory; for the price, you’d be better off picking a case of your choice and any standalone wireless keyboard to get a better typing experience.