Apple made a few enemies with the iPad mini Smart Cover. The smaller cover has a polyurethane hinge instead of a metal one, and when it scrapped the leather cover option, it also scrapped the color that would make the most sense with the new all-black iPad mini: Black! That, combined with the price – which is the same as the larger Smart Cover – made a lot of people wonder what on earth Apple was thinking. You get a smaller, inferior (?) cover, in the wrong color, and you pay the same.

If these issues truly bother you though, there’s a way to have your cake, eat it, and not pay much for it in the process. eBay and other sites (even Amazon) have cases from all sorts of third party manufacturers. You can get a Smart Cover in black or one that has a metal hinge like the full size Smart Cover, and you’ll probably end up paying less than $20. In fact, on eBay you can grab a cover like the one in the picture for right around $10.

The downside of this is that the quality is not up to Apple standards, at least not from all sellers. I ordered a cheap black metal hinge cover from eBay, and for $12 it was about what I paid for. I had to fix the hinge after just a bit of use, and the fit isn’t as good as it should be, with there being a bit of flex in the hinge that makes the cover slide out of alignment with the iPad. This is consistent with the knock-off cover I bought for my iPad 2 back in the day, but I’ve also seen people who are happy with their knock off covers, so it’s all about finding the right one. I ended up just continuing to use my dark gray Apple cover and instead modified my Bluetooth keyboard with magnets so it could use the magnets (it actually has a lot of uses on a keyboard!).

There are rumors of a new iPad mini this spring, and if those should turn out to be true, I hope Apple brings updated Smart Covers with it as well. It really makes no sense to finally make the iPad a uniform color – the most used color in electronics – and then release a cover for it in in all sorts of completely different colors. So, if you don’t mind risking a bad quality cover, this option is worth checking out.