Review: Belkin Clear Case for iPhone
Of the thousands of cases that have appeared for iPods over the past six years, few have the potential offered by hard plastics. If you love Apple's designs, these sorts of cases tend to show them off much better than any of their peers except for clear full-body film, and almost always offer superior anti-drop protection. But they differ in scratch protection, frills, and a number of other ways, so today we're looking at 11 total new hard plastic offerings from major case makers Agent 18, Belkin, and Contour Design.
Belkin’s two cases are virtually identical to one another except in name: the Clear Case for iPhone and Remix Acrylic for iPod touch ($30 each) are iterative sequels to Belkin’s early and beautiful but flawed Acrylic Case for iPhone. That case incorporated several cool new ideas: a rotating, detachable belt clip frame that transformed into a video stand, a design that really showed off the iPhone’s curves, and an included adhesive hook that could be placed in your car to mount iPhone conveniently inside. But it also had the unfortunate tendency to pop open, spilling the iPhone out, and was not especially protective of the device’s screen or controls even when it was inside.
The good news about both of these cases is that they’ve fixed the prior Acrylic Case’s pop-out issue. Rather than just using slender tabs to hold the front and rear plastic shells together, Belkin now permanently joins them with a small top-mounted hinge, and locks them together much more firmly on the sides. This is achieved without compromising the earlier case’s great looks: both the Clear Case and Remix Acrylic are very attractive cases.
They’re not precisely identical to the earlier design, however. Both cases now use frosted clear back shells rather than crystalline ones, and though the iPhone version has a glossy front shell, the iPod touch version’s front matches the frosting on its back. Belkin’s earlier clear belt clip and frame have been replaced by matte black versions for both devices, though they retain the prior great functionality and shapes. You can easily remove the frame and clip if you want to carry your iPhone or iPod touch around in a thinner form.
Another piece of good news is that the cases are highly compatible with iPod and iPhone accessories. Both of their bottoms are left open for easy attachment to Universal Docks and large accessories; similarly, headphones of all sizes can be attached without issue, and Sleep/Wake button access is also provided on each unit’s top. Full screen and Home button access are also available, with the iPhone version including open side controls and a fully exposed camera. You won’t have a problem using any of the devices’ features.
The compromise? Protection. Belkin still doesn’t include screen protection, and is atypically lightweight in even covering each device’s face—all the front shell offers is bezel protection, rather than the fuller front halves of most other clear iPhone and iPod touch cases we’ve reviewed. The iPhone case is still a B- in protection, with the iPod touch version rating a little higher only because it has fewer top, side, and back portions to cover.
What ultimately boosts both cases’ ratings, however, is their highly functional clip and stand design, as well as their undeniably good looks. Though DLO trumped its competitors this time out with the superb iPod touch VideoShell, which offers similar stand functionality and more protection at a lower price point, Belkin’s designs still have a lot of appeal. On looks and versatility alone, we’d put both Remix Acrylic and the Clear Case on our short lists of top choices; they’d have been at the top of those lists with superior protection for their prices.