Review: Pad & Quill Contega Case

TL;DR — This is the best iPad case I’ve ever owned.

I’ve had a full-size iPad for a while now, but I always felt like it was just a bit too large. I use a 13” MacBook Air, and the iPad is almost the size of the laptop screen. Since my laptop is so portable, I usually have it nearly everywhere I go; so it often seems redundant to lug around the large iPad. With most scenarios where I might want to use the iPad, it’s just as easy to bring the laptop. So I bought an iPad Mini.

The Mini is small enough to fit easily in my coat pocket, and certainly fits easily in my laptop case along side my laptop. It’s small enough not to feel like it’s a chore when pulling it out for casual tasks like reading or playing a game.

But this review isn’t about the iPad Mini, it’s about the lovely Contega case from Pad & Quill. Tim Challies turned me on to Pad & Quill in a post he wrote about using an iPad for preaching.


Let me begin with the first hangup some might have with Pad & Quill: the price. These are hand-made cases, and you definitely pay the price for the uniqueness and quality. The case that I purchased was $89. Price aside, this is easily the best iPad case I’ve owned.

When you first pick up the Contega case, you might mistake it for a Moleskin notebook. The case is very light, much lighter than the silicon, rubber, and synthetic leather cases I’ve had in the past. It has a lovely black simulated-leather exterior (brown is also available) with a black fabric elastic band to hold it closed. When the case is closed, the wooden cradle that holds the iPad in place looks a bit like paper from the side, and there’s even a quaint little bookmark peeking out the bottom (more on that in a moment).

Slip off the elastic band, open the case, and you’ll notice a few things.

First, the iPad turns on immediately. The case has a magnetic sleep switch, so it works nicely with the “auto on” feature of the iPad. This is my first case with a magnetic sleep switch, and I was surprised at how useful that functionality is.

The inside of the case is covered in bound linen cloth. You can choose between six different interior colors. I chose praline tan.


The wooden cradle that holds the iPad seems impossible, in a good way. It’s much lighter than you might think, primarily because it’s made from laminate Baltic birch wood; but there doesn’t seem to be any trade off for durability. The wood is hard and has resisted dings or scratches even though my 5-year-old and 2-year-old use (and drop) it frequently.


The cradle is ingeniously designed so that friction keeps the iPad snug in place without any adhesive and without covering the face of the device at all. The bookmark functions like the strip of fabric often placed beneath batteries in hard-to-reach battery compartments; give it a firm tug to pop the iPad out of the cradle. Channels are carved in the wood for the charge port, volume rocker, power button, headphone jack and cameras; there’s also a channel carved out beneath the speakers that really help carry the sound.

One of my favorite features, however, is the multi-position cover. The entire case is bound like a book, which means you can fold the front cover back at the spine and it folds completely flat under the wood cradle. The cradle itself is slightly hinged, and there’s a groove pressed in the cover that the cradle can flip out and rest in. This means that you can either flip it open and read it like a notebook, or you can tip out the wooden cradle and set it up in landscape mode for reading or use beside a laptop. Lots of cases have similar functionality, but it’s really nice to have something that by all appearances looks like a book, yet manages to be so versatile.


Final verdict? If you’ve got the money to spend on the case. It’s well worth it.