Hover over the image for rating details. Quarks rating explanation here.

STM is an Australian company committed to making high quality, functional and nicely designed bags. I’ve reviewed several of their offerings in the past. Although I’ve always liked their bags (as a matter of fact, I’m currently using one of them on a daily basis), it’s their iPad cases I’m really a fan of.

This is the first of a 3-part review series covering some of their cases for the iPad Pro. In this post, we’ll be going over the STM Half Shell for iPad Pro (9.7 in).

STM Half Shell for iPad Pro - Main Image

Hardware Design

Rating: 8.5/10

This case only protects iPad Pro’s back and edges, leaving the front screen exposed. It’s actually meant to be used with either a Smart Cover or a Smart Keyboard.

It perfectly wraps the iPad around, leaving adequately sized openings for ports and speakers (i.e. virtually any lightning cable would fit, including the excellent non-Apple options that can be found on Amazon). Buttons are not covered, but this might not be a bad thing is you are going for the minimalistic design. Also, the tactile feedback provided by TPU/PU cases may not be appealing to everyone.

STM Half Shell for iPad Pro - Buttons.

When the Smart Cover is in place, there is only a small gap exposing the iPad’s back. This is testament of STM’s attention to detail as other manufacturers usually leave a wider area exposed.

The case comes in two colors: Clear (the one being reviewed) and Smoke. It’s as minimalistic as it gets. When using the clear version, it almost seems like the iPad doesn’t have a case at all. This is great for portability and aesthetic reasons, but might not be ideal if protection is paramount.

Hardware Quality

Rating: 6.5/10

STM has chosen a hard translucent plastic for the Half Shell. Although it provides a nice non-slippery surface to grab onto, it brings some disadvantages:

  • It scratches easily.
  • It shows marks and abrasions easily.
  • It may allow for dust to get in between the iPad and the case (However, this was not observed while reviewing this unit).

On the plus side, STM was very detailed and meticulous when designing this case: port and button openings are perfectly aligned and tabs are adequately placed so that inserting the iPad in or taking it out doesn’t result in scratches (which seems to be a common problem on cheap cases you may find online).

I would have preferred it if they had used dark translucent TPU or some sort of TPU/hard plastic hybrid material.

General Performance

Rating: 7.5/10

The STM Half Shell provides adequate protection from bumps and scratches. If you are looking for a case capable of protecting your iPad from drops or medium to high abuse, you might want to look somewhere else. However, for day to day use, I would say it’s a great option.

STM Half Shell - Port Openings

Price

Rating: 7/10

The STM Half Shell for iPad Pro 12.9 retails for $39.95 on Amazon at the time of writing. The sample unit reviewed here is a pre-release version for iPad Pro 9.7-in, but it will be available soon on STM’s website, so keep an eye on it.

The price point will likely be below that of the 12.9 inch version, but might still be higher than similar offerings from other manufacturers. However, keep in mind that some of the cheap hard plastic cases out there may scratch your iPad (it happened to me a couple of years ago), so you are better off shelling out the few extra dollars for a better designed option.

Ease of Use

Rating: 10/10

Using this case is pretty straight forward: just insert the iPad’s right side (buttons side) first and then snap the opposite side. That’s it. Removing it is just the exact inverse procedure.

I have used similar cases in the past and it has always been a frustrating and stressful experience. I always thought I was going to crack, break or scratch my iPad. I don’t see any of that happening when using the STM Half Shell.

Amazon / Adorama Reviews

Rating: ?/5

There are currently no reviews on either Amazon or Adorama for any of the Half Shell versions (i.e. 12.9-inch or 9.7-inch). The Quarks rating will be updated once reviews start to show on those sites.