Skip to main content

Hands-on: Apple’s Leather Sleeve – a luxury storage solution for iPad Pro [Video]

The iPad Pro Leather Sleeve is an accessory that’s made for iPad Pro owners who use an Apple Pencil. The sleeve, with a price of $129 for the 10.5-inch model and $159 for the 12.9-inch model, is made out of leather and is available in four colors.

Considering its price tag, the Leather Sleeve is what I would call a luxury accessory. There are other options that provide similar protection at a much cheaper price, but for those of you who demand a high-quality Apple-branded product, the Leather Sleeve makes for an interesting option.

Because Apple has apparently decided not to produce a case for the rear of the iPad Pro, the Leather Sleeve is your only first-party option for protecting the rear of the device. Unfortunately, as I noted in a recent third-party Smart Case review, the Leather Sleeve can only protect the iPad Pro while not in use. In my opinion, this automatically lends some negative connotation to the Leather Sleeve, because it’s literally the only option that Apple provides, yet it’s useless for protecting the rear of your device while you’re actually using it.

Paying $129 for the Leather Sleeve feels a bit ridiculous considering how thin and simple it is. Yet, it’s its thinness and utter simplicity that makes it attractive. I opted for the black sleeve, which features an even more understated look than the other three available color options.

Video walkthrough

Subscribe to 9to5Mac on YouTube for more videos

Unboxing the Leather Sleeve is, like the product itself, a rather simple exercise. After sliding the case open, it’s just a matter of removing the sleeve, and popping out the paper dummy Apple Pencil model that’s rolled up inside the holder.

My first impression was that the Leather Sleeve was just as advertised — real leather that’s devoid of any weird chemical smells. As someone who’s had plenty of experience trying out third-party so-called leather products, one can appreciate the word “leather” not being thrown around so loosely.

Inserting the iPad Pro into the Leather Sleeve is easy. In fact, you’ll need to take care with how you hold the sleeve, as the iPad Pro can slide out. Most people, I imagine, will use a Smart Cover, Smart Keyboard, or other third-party option, which increases the friction, and thus reduces the likelihood of the iPad sliding out by accident.

That said, I wasn’t sure how easily the sleeve would accommodate my iPad Pro + Smart Keyboard combination. Initially, the fit was a bit tight, but after a week of usage, the leather has broken in enough to where the fit seems about right. I’m even able to fit the iPad Pro + Smart Keyboard + Khomo rear case inside of the Leather Sleeve; it’s a tight squeeze, but it’s not so tight that it’s overly difficult to insert or remove the iPad Pro.

Inserting the Apple Pencil is even more straightforward, because there’s only one size of Apple Pencil. The Leather Sleeve features a holder specifically designed with the Apple Pencil in mind, which allows it to easily slide in and snap into place. Removing the Apple Pencil is just a matter of pressing on the opposite side of the holder, causing it to pop out far enough to grab.

Only time will tell the real story as to the Leather Sleeve’s durability, but so far so good. The leather is very soft and seems to do a good job of accommodating the iPad Pro, even when it’s donning extra hardware. The stitching on the outer edge of the sleeve seems to be of high quality, and over last two and a half weeks, I haven’t noticed any signs of splitting, peeling, or unraveling.

On the opposite side of the sleeve’s opening, there is a small debossed Apple logo that isn’t very noticeable unless the light hits it just right. I prefer this subtle look to some of the more flashy third-party logo designs that you may see with cheaper sleeves and cases.

A side benefit to the Leather Sleeve is that it can serve as a “placemat” of sorts for your iPad while in use. It’s not much bigger than the area of the iPad itself, and it makes for a soft surface that won’t risk scratching your iPad’s rear case. Even when using the Smart Keyboard, I find that the sleeve is perfectly-sized as a resting surface for the iPad Pro.


The Leather Sleeve is first and foremost a luxury accessory. Its price may seem absurd to some, and at one-fifth of the price of a base model 10.5-inch iPad Pro, it’s hard to argue against such sentiments. Yet, if you’re looking for a first-party sleeve solution that works great with the Apple Pencil, and can easily accommodate an iPad Pro with Smart Keyboard, the Leather Sleeve is a solid option.

If you can get past the price, and I don’t blame you if you can’t, I think you’ll be satisfied with the Leather Sleeve’s performance. The fact that it serves as a great surface for resting your iPad Pro, something that Apple doesn’t really advertise in its press materials, extends the usefulness of this pricey accessory.

Note: If you’re looking for an inexpensive iPad Pro case solution that can hold your Apple Pencil, then have a look at Khomo’s well-received third-party option:

FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.

You’re reading 9to5Mac — experts who break news about Apple and its surrounding ecosystem, day after day. Be sure to check out our homepage for all the latest news, and follow 9to5Mac on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to stay in the loop. Don’t know where to start? Check out our exclusive stories, reviews, how-tos, and subscribe to our YouTube channel



Avatar for Jeff Benjamin Jeff Benjamin

Jeff produces videos, walkthroughs, how-tos, written tutorials and reviews. He takes pride in being able to explain things in a simple, clear and concise manner.