Review: ifrogz Nanowrapz and 30 Combo Cases for 2G iPod nano
Pros: A highly customizable silicone rubber case for the second-generation iPod nano, packaged either with your choice of accent bands and Click Wheel cover graphics, or a collection of 13 different pieces. Additional bands and Click Wheel covers are sold separately. Bands enable you to dock nano withour removing rest of case. Fantastic customization values for the prices.
Cons: Thanks to their sticker graphics, combination case packages’ contents are better suited to younger users. Headphone port hole and side lanyard attachment holes could use tweaks.
Rubber iPod cases now run the gamut from cheap and cheap-looking to almost ridiculously overpriced and comparatively sophisticated, thankfully with all sorts of options inbetween. For second-generation iPod nano owners—particularly younger ones—perhaps the best option in the middle is ifrogz’ new 30 Combo Case ($30), also sold in stripped down form as Nanowrapz ($20). We don’t use the word “best” lightly: these cases stand tall in a crowd of comparatively generic options.
Late last year and early this year, ifrogz seemed to be stumbling in iPod case development: a rash of somewhat ill-conceived and forgettable designs flooded the company’s site at a time when only one great product—a second-generation nano-ready version of its earlier wrapz case (iLounge rating: A-)—was needed. That’s what Nanowrapz and its bigger brother, the 30 Combo Case, finally deliver. Just like the prior wrapz, you get a rubber iPod case, a band that wraps vertically around its body, a clear screen protector, and a sticker that covers the nano’s Click Wheel. Simple, right?
No. These components are key to making the new Nanowrapz and 30 Combo the most user-customizable iPod cases we’ve yet seen at their $20 and $30 price points. For $20, you can pick one each from 20 different iPod case colors, 30 different bands, and an insane number of Click Wheel stickers. Go all white, all black, or with almost any set of colors you want. A tool on ifrogz’ web site lets you preview how the parts will look together before you place an order. The end result is one of the most protective nano cases we’ve seen, exposing only the headphone port, and nothing else; it could only be stronger if it was made from a hard material and waterproof.
Sold in eight variations, the 30 Combo Case offers value bundles of Nanowrapz components, rather than just a single case, band, and sticker set. Sets called Flower Child, Girl Power, Music (shown), Neue Textures, Toxic, Urban, Urban 2, or Wicked each include one rubber base case, three bands, one clear screen protector, and ten Click Wheel stickers. The stickers match the theme and the colors of the bands, so you can color-coordinate the base case with one band and one sticker of your choice, then change up the parts as you prefer. ifrogz’ “30 Combo” name comes from the fact that you can make 30 case combinations from the contents of one package.
Admittedly, ifrogz’ combo packages aren’t individually going to appeal to everyone: the Girl Power and Flower Child packages skew young female, Neue Textures and Toxic are clearly more for young males, and the whole 30 Combo collection has a “college-aged or younger” feel. You might or might not like the way the gender-neutral Music set here looks. But between all of the $30 options, each of which is sold in two different base case color options—and your ability to opt for just a plain $20 version without a theme—there’s something here that will visually appeal to virtually any type of iPod nano owner. Buyers of any case version have the option to add new bands or Click Wheel colors in the future, as well.
Putting their significant customization alternatives aside, one great thing about these cases is the band, which is no longer merely ornamental, and now serves to expose the nano’s entire bottom when removed. This way, you can dock the nano without taking the whole case off—a common issue with others we’ve tested. Our only gripes are the continued presence of two unattractive rubber loops on the back sides, presumably for a lanyard that’s not included or especially wanted, and the fact that the headphone port hole isn’t sized to accommodate large plugs. Some users may also wish for a detachable belt clip, but that’s missing here, and like the lanyard, no great loss in our view.
Overall, Nanowrapz and the 30 Combo Case offerings are frankly refreshing to us at this point, as we’ve been so deluged by overpriced, underprotective iPod and iPhone cases that merely seeing appropriately priced individual and multi-pack options feels like cause for celebration. Though we didn’t see Nanowrapz and 30 Combo until late—perhaps too late—in the second-generation iPod nano’s life cycle, there’s no doubt that ifrogz both improved upon its prior wrapz designs here, and delivered a significantly better experience for the customer than its original, forgettable Clear Case for the second-generation nano. We consider both the $20 Nanowrapz and the $30 various 30 Combo Case options to be great values, and between that, their degree of protection, and their customizability, fully worthy of our flat A, high recommendation.