Tabulate Smart Case Review: Rethinking The Mobile Device Case

Hardware Reviews / Mobile / Reviews / Tech

A lot of us have a love/hate relationship with cases. More often than not, we slap them on our smartphones and tablets because we feel have to, not because we want to. In doing so we begrudgingly hide our beautifully designed and crafted gadgets so that we may preserve and protect them. Some have opted for skins or impossibly thin (and useless) covers; others throw aesthetics completely out the window and cram their devices into crate-sized confinements. What I’m saying is that cases are either ugly, pointless, or in some cases, both. Tabulate has set out to reduce as many taboos as possible about what we choose to stuff our mobile electronics into. Their Indiegogo project is already changing minds.

When you snap a Tabulate case on your device and slide your hands through the straps, you will first think, “Why has no one done this yet?” The second thing you will do, is throw out your other case. What makes Tabulate so good? To know for sure, I secured my iPad Mini 2 inside one of their products and spent a month with it. And then the next month.. and then the next.

Courtesy of Tabulate

Courtesy of Tabulate

As you can imagine, putting a Tabulate case on the iPad Mini 2 was simple and the four tabs on all sides snapped into place. All four held the case firmly to the iPad but were small enough that they didn’t really intrude on the overall look of the device. On the side, there are cutouts for access to the power, volume, and the Orientation Lock/Mute Side Switch. The speakers and the lightning port are of course also uncovered. Even with their minimal intrusion, the tabs raise the screen slightly off the surface, protecting it, if you lay your device face down.


The back is where the unique design comes into focus. In place of a common hard shell, you will find a series of straps. Four across, two vertical, and three diagonal. The straps are taut, but stretch so you can slide your hand(s) in from any angle. Holding your device securely has never been easier. There is just no way it could slip from your grasp. The straps can also stretch, allowing easy rotation of the device without the risk of dropping it while doing so. The fabric feels better in the hand then the usual solid and often slick surfaces. Since the straps are stacked, they provide good protection to whatever is wearing the Tabulate case. Considerations were of course taken to make sure the camera and the rear mic are not covered by any of the material.

If you don’t want to hold your device, the intelligent placement of the straps means you could use almost anything as a brace. Just slide it between the stretchable fabric and prop the device up in any orientation. Tabulate includes three very unique looking accessories as a demonstration of how creative you can get, including a hook to hang your device, freeing up your hands. The company wants you to be able to design your own stands and accessories, and includes files to assist with 3D printing. It all works, and it all works well.


Tabulate claims that the case is tough and durable. Ironically I will have to take their word for it. I didn’t get a chance to see the iPad survive any serious mishaps because the case works so damn well and was practically cemented to my grasp. I can say that I was not gentle on the iPad otherwise, tossing it around when I wan’t using it. The Tabulate case held up with no issues, and the tablet was completely unscathed.


With this much practical function, I could forgive the Tabulate case for looking cheap or being poorly designed. But it isn’t. The look created by the harnesses and the negative spaces between the scarce plastic bits create a rugged and urban look. There is also a variety of colors and you will be able to select device color and strap design when you place an order. Additionally, any straps that are not wrapped around your hands can be used to secure small items. I easily crammed my wallet, keys and headphones into the case and they were held securely in place. The more you stuff in there, the tighter the grip.


And lastly there is the price. Fifteen bucks for this thing is almost stealing it. I’ve spent at least twice that on cases that I hated. This is however the early bird price so it will cost a bit more if you sit on your hands for too long. Since this is a new product only certain devices are supported but Tabulate will be adding more later. For now you can grab one for :

  • Android: Nexus 6P, Nexus 7 (2013), Nexus 9 and Samsung Note 5
  • Apple: iPhone 6 / 6+ / 6s / 6s+ iPad Mini 2 / 3 and iPad Air 1 /2
Courtesy of Tabulate

Courtesy of Tabulate

The Tabulate team deserves a lot of credit for making a case that I would actually want to put on my device. It looks cool, is highly functional, and cheaper than many less appealing alternatives.

Tabulate Smart Case
4.6 Out of 5
Nailed it
Very versatile and adaptive case. Rugged and functional without being bulky and awkward. Easy and comfortable to hold in any orientation. Inexpensive. Can actually hold a number of accessories you may need to lug around.
Needs Work
Fit could be a little better, but this was an early unit. No issues with the case but certain parts look like they could be better reinforced.
Bottom Line
A new and refreshing approach to a smart-device case. Functionality is definitely the focus but the resulting "urban" look stands out in a good way. A comfortable-to-hold and inexpensive solution that I'm surprised no one thought to do until now.
*We were sent a demo unit of the Tabulate Smart Case for the iPad Mini2 for the purposes of this review.
  Source: Tabulate Smart Case On Indeigogo 
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