Review: Griffin MeshUps, Survivor, Survivor Slim + Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Skins for iPod touch 5G
Other than introducing a lower-capacity model devoid of a camera and loop button, and adding a space gray option, Apple has left its fifth-generation iPod touch intact this year. Griffin has a handful of recently released cases for the fifth-generation device that are therefore still worth taking a look at, with all four combining rubber and plastic in some way. The list includes MeshUps ($20), Survivor ($40), Survivor Slim ($30), and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Skins ($30).
MeshUps is a fully protective polycarbonate shell available in four colors, augmented by a grid of silicone along the back and sides. The plastic is dimpled like a golf ball, helping to enhance the textural experience, while the rubber covers the buttons without impeding their use. There are specific cutouts for each of the ports along the bottom, as well as the camera and the loop button. The cutouts for the headphone and Lightning ports are large enough to accept even oversized third-party plugs, while the camera opening is surprisingly huge—a feature seen among all four cases. Of the bunch, this is the slimmest.
Next, Survivor is the iPod touch edition of a case that’s been around for a few years now, available for various devices. We’ve recently reviewed the iPhone 5c version, which is quite similar to this edition. Griffin’s most protective case, Survivor offers complete button and sport protection, plus shock, drop, and splash coverage; even the company calls it “ridiculously over-engineered.” The unit snaps apart into three primary pieces—a plastic tray, a rubber frame, and a plastic-bordered screen protector, plus the separate detachable belt clip. That last component is a thin column of plastic that snaps onto the top and bottom of the case with a clip that rotates a quarter turn in either direction. To encase the iPod touch, you first snap it into the plastic backing and then wrap the thick rubber around it. Ridges along the edge of the plastic grab the softer material and hold it in place. It takes about a minute to get everything assembled, but once you have, the screen protector can be snapped on. Notably, the screen protector isn’t prismatic, so you’ll be able to enjoy looking at your iPod’s screen without any real distortion.
The exterior is all rubber, except for the front bezel and two small segments on the back, and the material has a slightly gritty texture, making it easier to hold. All four of the iPod touch’s buttons are covered, and Griffin has done a great job ensuring their tactility; each of them clicks without any issue, and they all feel quite nice. Equally impressive are the port, camera, and switch covers: The headphone port, Lightning port, rear camera and flash, and side switch are individually protected by thick rubber when not in use, but made to be easy accessible when needed. There’s no hole for the loop button, but a permanent protective membrane covers the speaker. Without a doubt, this is the single most protective case we’ve seen for the current generation of the iPod touch.
Survivor Slim is also a familiar case, with a direct iPhone 5c correlate. In the same vein as Survivor, it’s made to be highly protective, but this one is far more pocketable. Its inner layer is a hard plastic shell, and then a silicone cover wraps around it for protection; screen film is included in the package. Unlike Survivor, this one includes a cutout for the loop button.
This case leaves much more of the device exposed than Survivor, with a single, 2” wide hole along the bottom edge, rather than individual openings. That design means greater docking and accessory compatibility, but less protection. The rear camera, front camera, and vibrate switch are all exposed as well, although that’s much more common, and generally acceptable. Clearly, this one is aimed at those more concerned about drops than liquid damage. It seems appropriate for the iPod touch, which is often a device used by kids. A fabric wrist strap is included.
Lastly, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Skins ($30) could potentially be the coolest case of the bunch based on the nostalgia factor and its own merits, but has a rather big problem. First, the good. Coming in four colors—each corresponding to one of the Turtles—the case combines a rubber frame with a turtle shell-patterned, air-filled rear. The port openings are similar to those on MeshUps, although a bit more deeply recessed. We were happy with the tactility of the volume buttons, but it’s the Sleep/Wake button that presents an issue. Put simply, it’s so firm you can’t feel it being pressed. While it’s not as bad as some cases that completely block the functionality, it’s still a big enough problem to have a serious negative impact on our feelings about the case.
Our favorite case of the bunch happens to be the least expensive, but that’s not the only reason we like it. MeshUps is a fun take on what can otherwise be a simple style. It offers a very good amount of protection, and stands out from the crowd, earning it a strong general recommendation. While we see it as less necessary for the iPod touch than the iPhone, Survivor is also worthy of that designation. Of all the cases we’ve seen for this iPod touch, it offers the single greatest amount of coverage, and we appreciate that it’s more affordable than the iPhone version. Survivor Slim, then, comes in at a B. It’s good if you’re concerned about drops alone, but with a metal body and no glass on the back, the iPod touch isn’t necessarily fragile. Finally, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Skins earns a limited recommendation. It’s such a cool case that if you’re willing to deal with the lack of tactile feedback, it may just well be worth it.