We love our iPads, and we particularly love making them even better: whether it’s listening to our music on high-quality headphones, drawing with the Apple Pencil, or just making sure our treasured tablet isn’t going to suffer from kid-related catastrophes, there are all kinds of accessories to protect and enhance your iPad.
We’ve been iPad mad since the first generation, and that means we know a thing or two about what works, what doesn’t, and what involuntary noise you make when an unprotected iPad meets a concrete floor.
In this feature we’ve focused on three things: practicality, usefulness, and affordability – so while we’re sure they sound and look great, there’s no room for the AirPods Max or a hand-finished leather iPad case from a famous designer. We’re sure if you buy either you’ll be delighted, but we think you can get as much delight for a lot less cash.
We haven't had all of these accessories in our test labs yet, but based on our experts' opinion and knowledge of the most reputable brands around, we think these are worth looking at.
Our selections - listed in no particular order - take into account online reviews, brand reputation, product capability, or unique features, to help you pick through the maze of choices available to you.
The second generation Apple Pencil is a wonderful thing, and it addresses almost all the flaws of the first generation. It has wireless charging and gesture controls, a flat edge that means it no longer rolls off tables, and it magnetically snaps to the side of the iPad Pro in a most satisfying way.
It feels really natural in use, and with so many apps now boasting handwriting input and recognition it’s particularly useful for note-taking and writing when you can’t sit at a desk.
For iPad Pros, the best keyboard is Apple’s own Magic Keyboard, but for everyone else the Logitech Slim Folio is a superb all-rounder with really nice keys that don’t feel crowded.
The Slim Folio case effectively turns your iPad into a laptop, and there are three ways to use it: Sketch Mode, where it works like any other iPad case and folds out of the way; Type Mode, which offers a laptop-style typing experience; and Read Mode, which props your iPad up for reading or watching media.
Just make sure you get the right one, as the Logitech Slim Folio is available in different sizes for iPads and iPad Pros.
There are lots of third-party styluses for iPads but most of them lack the official Apple seal of approval. This Logitech one is an Apple favorite, and while it lacks pressure sensitivity it has a nifty tilt mode that enables you to do subtle shading.
As the name suggests, the Crayon isn’t quite as precise as a pencil, and it was designed primarily for educational use. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t a grown-up alternative to an Apple Pencil for those of us who want to draw or handwrite and who don’t need or want to pay for Apple’s option.
In addition to the armed forces, there’s a group of people who need military-spec protection for their iPads. Those people are called parents. If you’d rather not spend the kids’ inheritance on endless screen repairs, or if you need an iPad case that’s really tough so you can take it on outdoor adventures, Griffin has the iPad case for you.
It’s really tough, with a shatterproof polycarbonate frame and a silicone jacket that protects your iPad from falls of up to 1.8 meters. It can protect your iPad from the environment too: it’s sealed to protect against dust, dirt, sand, and sticky fingers. There’s a detachable stand and an integrated Apple Pencil holder too, but no screen protector.
Apple’s AirPods deliver one of the nicest wireless earbuds user experiences you can get: they pair effortlessly and unlike many similarly specified wireless headphones they stay connected. There’s up to 5 hours of constant listening from a single charge, rising to 24 hours with the charging case, and they work brilliantly with Siri.
They’re brilliant bits of engineering but they’re not perfect. If you prefer earbuds that seal your ear canal to cut out noise and deliver deep bass, these aren’t the buds for you. And of course because these are Apple devices they aren’t cheap. But they are very good at what they do.
If you like the idea of AirPods but don’t like the way they sound, us too. Which is why we use Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s with our iPads instead. Like the AirPods they’re wireless and enable you to make calls as well as listen to and control your audio, and like the AirPods they have a cool charging case that means you’re unlikely to run out of power when you’re out and about.
But unlike the AirPods they deliver a sound that never fails to put a smile on our face. They’re not very pretty – the stone ones in particular look a little medical – but they’re pretty great.
The wireless headphones we’ve recommended so far don’t have active noise cancelling, so they’re not ideal for iPad-toting travelers. The Sony WH-1000XM4 do, and they sound fantastic in their own right: with a frequency response down to just 4Hz they deliver brain-shaking bass, and noise cancelling means you don’t need to turn them up to dangerously loud levels to experience it.
At $349 / £349 / AU$549 they aren’t cheap, but these things are relative: Apple’s equivalents, the AirPods Max, are $549 / £549 / AU$899. The Sony WH-1000XM4 are our current pick for the best headphones, and while the design is a little dull the sound is spectacular.
The VersaVu shows that solid iPad protection needn’t make your device look like military hardware. It delivers military-grade drop protection for drops of up to four feet, and it does so while still looking quite nice.
Its rotating stand means you can easily prop up your iPad in portrait or landscape mode – useful for apps such as FaceTime that prefer your device to be upright and reading apps that prefer landscape.
The tray has also been designed to reflect the sound from the speakers, and while it won’t turn your iPad into a four-speaker iPad Pro it’s still quite effective.
There’s no doubt that iPads look their best when they’re not in any kind of case. But there’s also no doubt that carrying your iPad around in a bag without any protection is just asking for trouble.
So a sleeve-style case like this one is a good solution for people who need to take their iPads with them but who don’t want to have a case in the way when they’re on the sofa or in the boardroom.
This case is lightweight, nice and soft inside, and does a good job of keeping your iPad safe when you’ve got it in your handbag or backpack, although of course it can’t offer the drop or impact protection of a more solid option.
Screen protectors aren’t very exciting, we know, but neither are scratches and cracks in your iPad’s screen. A tempered glass screen protector is no substitute for a heavy-duty case, but they’ve saved enough iPhone and iPad screens for us that we’d recommend one wholeheartedly no matter what other protection you use.
Their job is to take the abuse that your screen would otherwise suffer, keeping the display pristine and your trade-in value nice and high. The only downside is that if your iPad isn’t fresh out of the box you need to clean the screen very carefully to get a perfect finish.