Review: Belkin Leather Folios for iPod nano & classic
Flip-closed leather iPod and iPhone cases continue to appear at a staggering pace, but unfortunately, innovation remains elusive: other than small changes to their shapes and materials, the latest offerings are no better than last year's, and from our perspective are even less worthwhile given that they limit your access to the device's increasingly important screens. Today, we look briefly at twelve flip-closed leather cases from five companies -- Belkin, Capdase, CoverCase, Pacific Rim Technologies, and XtremeMac -- but note up front that the only marginally impressive features of any of them are their leather detailing and protectiveness. This review is for Belkin's Leather Folio for the iPod nano ($25) and both iPod classics ($30).
All twelve of the cases operate in the same general fashion: they hold your iPod or iPhone inside a tailored leather holster that could conceivably be its own case, except for the absence of one or two sides worth of leather. The cases then shut with a front-covering flap that also covers all or part of one of the device’s sides. How that side is covered typically impacts accessory access, while the front’s coverage precludes screen and control access: you need to open the case every time you want to use the iPod or iPhone inside.
Of all of the cases, the nicest-looking are Belkin’s book-style flip-shut Leather Folios. Like several of the company’s earlier iPod cases, the Folios feature a clean, modern embossed honeycomb design that can be seen on both the leather exterior and suede interior, and rounded piping that runs around the edges in an interior-matching color. The iPod nano version seals shut magnetically with completely hidden magnets, while the iPod classic version uses a Velcro tab, unfortunately adding a hint of extra complication to the lid opening process. Various colors are available for each iPod model, and the ones we’ve seen are unquestionably nice—sharper-looking for the dollar than most competitors.
All four top and bottom corners are exposed on the nano, which provides headphone port and Hold switch access, while blocking the Dock Connector and leaving more than half of the nano’s top exposed. The iPod classic versions also expose both the top and bottom, leaving openings for the Dock Connector and headphone ports, Hold switch and two side corners. While the Dock Connector access makes the classic Folio compatible with virtually every bottom-attaching portable or cable accessory, the case isn’t compatible with Universal Dock-style accessories because of the front lid.
As little as we like flip-style cases, the Leather Folios are definitely amongst the best out there, thanks to nice looking leather and reasonable pricing. Our only major gripes are ones common to cases like this, except for the nano version’s blocked accessory connector and the classic’s tab-style clasp, which may inhibit practical use of the cases for some users.