Why won't just any iPad Air case/cover fit the iPad 9.7 5th Gen?

We have had a lot of customers inquiring on cases for the iPad 9.7 5th Gen because they have recently been informed by Apple that their backordered iPad Air 2 has been discontinued and the iPad 9.7 5th Gen is the alternative, so we did a comparison of Lifeproof, Otterbox and The Joy Factory iPad rugged cases to see what functionality, if any, is hindered when using an iPad Air case with Apple's iPad 9.7 5th Gen. For a detailed iPad comparison visit Apple's Compare iPad models webpage.


The first notable difference is the camera placement. The camera on the iPad 9.7 5th Gen is slightly to the left when compared to the camera on the iPad Air. This small distance can obscure the camera causing undesired results in photographs and videos. Pictured below is a Lifeproof Fre case paired with The Joy Factory's MagConnect Tablet Module (MMX107).  

This Lifeproof case's rear facing camera takes unobstructed photos but is not centered. 


Another area to pay special attention to when selecting a new case is the volume button area. On the iPad 9.7 5th Gen the mute switch has been eliminated and the volume buttons have been moved slightly higher than they were on the iPad Air. From the image below you can see that the volume buttons aren't aligned correctly with the buttons on this Lifeproof case. As an alternative you can adjust the volume by using on-screen controls.

Volume button placement differs on the iPad 9.7 5th Gen.

The last area we noticed a major difference in was the Touch ID sensor. The iPad 9.7 5th Gen has Apple's Touch ID capability while the iPad Air did not. Cases that offer button covers tend to cover up the home button which in turn renders the Touch ID useless.

Touch ID compatibility is a problem on this case.

So while it might be difficult to find a form fitted or rugged case available on the market so close to Apple's announcement it is still possible to find a folio case. When shopping for a case for your iPad 9.7 5th Gen look at the openings in consideration with the  following areas:

• Rear facing camera

• Volume control 

• Touch ID


We found that some of our iPad Air cases are compatible with the iPad 9.7 5th Gen. Our Folio360 Slim, SmartBlazer, and SmartBlazer Exec all work with the iPad 9.7 5th Gen

Camera opening lines up with the new camera location. Pictured above is model CFA201.
Volume controls are fully accessible. Pictured above is model CFA206.


Bottom speakers are fully exposed. Pictured above is model CFA201.


 Fully Touch ID compatible. Pictured above is model CFA204.


What cases have you seen that will work with the iPad 9.7 5th Gen? We are interested to hear your findings please share in the comments section below. 

Here is a list of cases from The Joy Factory that are compatible with the iPad 9.7 5th Gen. Check them out and tell us what you think below. 

Reviews (1 comment)

  • MIke Molnar On

    I am very upset with Apple’s opaqueness with iPad covers.

    I bought an iPad Air. The local Apple store had no covers and told me to buy at Amazon which I did. When it showed up I found that it does not fit. Eww Flash: There are several iPad Air models. I now know I have a Gen 3 version. I went thru a similar Kabuki dance with my iPad 4. I thought that an Air model was unique and it isn’t. Shame on Apple marketing.

    BTW, who will take the cover back now that the package seal is broken? Think twice about dealing with Apple.

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