Apple released the new iPad ("iPad 3") on Friday, March 16, 2012. Unfortunately, new iPad buyers quickly discovered that their iPad's Smart Cover sleep/wake feature is not working properly with some third-party cases. More perplexing, the problem isn't always consistent from case to case within the same model line.
On Smart Cover compatible cases, the iPad's sleep/wake feature is triggered by a small magnet embedded in the case's cover. Most of the speculation regarding the possible cause of the sleep/wake problem has centered around the placement or location of the little magnet within the lid of the case. Apple is rumored to have moved the location of the magnetic sensor in the iPad 3 and, thus, the magnet in some cases doesn't line up properly. While that might be the problem with some case designs, that's certainly not the problem with the Maroo Moko II case that I purchased for one of our new iPads!
It's all About Polarity!
It appears Apple is using a new design of sleep/wake sensor in the new iPad. A sleep/wake sensor that is sensitive to polarity. I shot some video to demonstrate.
(For the best viewing experience, click in the lower right corner to expand the video and then click on "HD".)
By the way, the most recent genuine Apple Smart Covers are compatible with the new iPad 3!
A case manufacturer in the UK has tested my discovery. The magnetically-activated sleep/wake function on one of his case designs was working with the iPad 2 but not working with the iPad 3. He disassembling the first panel of the case's smart cover and reversed the entire panel—thus reversing the polarity of the magnet embedded in the panel—and held the panel in place with clear packaging tape.
Then he tested the modified case cover on both the iPad 2 and the iPad 3. Success! With the reversed panel, the case cover works perfectly with both the iPad 2 and iPad 3!
This manufactuer's test proves that the magnetic sensor switch in the iPad 2 is not sensitive to polarity! Apple has switched to a different type of sensor switch for use in the iPad 3.
I've learned why Apple decided to use a polarity sensitive switch in the new iPad 3. Some iPad 2 customers were having issues with their iPads entering sleep mode when they flipped Apple's Smart Cover around flat behind their iPad 2. Since the iPad 2's sleep/wake sensor wasn't polarity specific, it could sometimes be triggered from the magnet being positioned at the rear of the iPad. By changing to a sensor that requires the correct polarity, the problem is eliminated.
I've learned that some of the original genuine Apple Smart Covers do not work properly with the iPad 3. Sometime in 2011, Apple apparently modified the design specifications of the Smart Covers in preparation for the release of the iPad 3. According to reports on Apple's support forums, the model numbers for the Smart Covers changed at the same time. Apple is reportedly exchanging these older Apple Smart Covers for the newer models at your favorite Apple Store.
Thumbs up for the folks at Maroo! Today they sent out an email to all of their customers to apologize for the inconvenience with iPad 3 sleep/wake incompatibilities. They are offering free replacements and letting customers keep the "magnetically challenged" cases too. A great product and excellent customer service! Bravo!