Review: Belkin Sonic Wave Silicone Sleeve for iPod nano 4G + iPod touch 2G
It's a tradition: every new iPod quickly winds up with a large assortment of new silicone rubber cases, and the fourth-generation iPod nano is no exception. Today, we're reviewing nine new rubber nano cases from seven different companies -- as well as a few related second-generation iPod touch cases from the same companies -- picking the great, good, and OK options from the collection. As all of the cases cover the nano's sides and back, we're going to focus largely on key differentiators in other aspects of their protection, style, and pricing. This review covers Belkin's Sonic Wave Silicone Sleeve cases for iPod nano 4G ($20) and iPod touch 2G ($25).
Screen Protection. Neither of the Sonic Wave Silicone Sleeve cases came with screen protection of any kind, which makes both deficient relative to the top cases we’ve tested. The iPod nano version appears to have been cut poorly such that the screen opening bulges, and the iPod touch version had the most exposed face surface of any touch case in this comparison, with no coverage for the device’s black screen bezeling.
Click Wheel and Button Protection. The iPod nano Sonic Wave has an integrated rubber Click Wheel cover, which suffers from the same sensitivity issues noted in our Sumajin Loop review: users of the 1.0 software on the iPod nano will find the wheel very hard to use, while a software update to 1.0.2 (or newer) will improve sensitivity. However, we found that very deliberate pressure was needed to use the Wheel even with 1.0.2, and the cover bulged like the screen opening. The iPod touch version provides top and side button coverage, but nothing for the Home button.
Top Protection. The iPod nano version, like all of its competitors reviewed today, has a hole for the Hold switch; it’s easy to use; Sonic Wave for the iPod touch covers the top surface of the device fully, but stops very soon thereafter on the front of the case as noted above, providing easier access for dust and the like due to the lack of screen protection.
Bottom Protection. Sonic Wave for the iPod nano has a completely open and fully accessory compatible bottom; in our sample case, the nano actually extended around a millimeter past the case’s bottom, which makes this case the least protective we’ve yet seen. The iPod touch version has medium-sized openings for the headphone and Dock Connector ports, providing Universal Dock and other bottom-mounting accessory compatibility.
Style, Colors, and Bulk. The single biggest selling point of the Sonic Wave cases is that Belkin has blended two colors into their backs using a unique “sonic wave” pattern, with the rest of the case appearing in a single color. iPod nano has three color schemes—black and white, pink and purple, and blue and orange—while iPod touch has six, black and red, black and green, black and blue, black and white, gray and green-yellow, pink and translucent white. We prefer the look of this design, with its subtly lowered stripes, to the Griffin FlexGrip, but FlexGrip is a better choice in most other regards.
Other Pack-Ins. Neither case includes any pack-ins.
Pricing. At $20 for the nano version and $25 for the iPod touch version, Belkin’s on the high side of pricing for both of these silicone cases given that you’re still forced to buy your own screen protection. What wrecks the nano version’s rating are its varied fit issues; the iPod touch version’s so-so protection and high-ish price are counterbalanced by its good looks and fine fit. Given the competition, we’d like to see the company offer more, and better, for these prices.