Review: Chums Flip and iFrame Cases
Pros: Simple fabric and vinyl iPod and iPod mini cases with lanyards, caribineers, and swiveling belt clips, each case in a contemporary style.
Cons: Very limited side and bottom protection in each case, no top protection in iFrame cases, too-small headphone port hole in Flip case. Dock Connector port on bottom of each case is too small. Belt clips are non-detachable.
In an effort to catch up on a backlog of reviews that have slipped through the cracks, we’re providing a collection of capsule reviews today for cases and clips that we’ve passed on covering extensively earlier on. The cases that we’ve chosen for these capsule reviews are ones that aren’t breakthroughs, and don’t need a ton of extra explanation.
First up are the Flip ($29.99) and iFrame ($24.99) Cases from Chums, which have been released for both full-sized iPods and the iPod mini. iFrames are sleeves that cover an iPod’s entire back and front, parts of its sides and bottom, and none of its top. Rather than cutting fabric in shapes specific to any iPod’s controls, they use thick clear vinyl as a protector on the front, framed by a thin stripe of fabric that runs all around the front edge. Strips of black elastic connect the front to the back, which is a hard reinforced set of two fabric pieces that generically match some of the colors on iFrame’s front. An orange and black Chums logo appears on a tag on each case’s right side.
The full-sized iPod version of iFrame for some reason has a credit card-sized pocket on its inner back, while the iPod mini version does not. Each iFrame comes with a thick black adjustable necklace cord that can be attached with metal lobster claws to D-rings on its top sides, a large black and silver caribineer hook that can attach to a D-ring on its top center, and a black, swiveling, non-detachable belt clip on the back. The belt clip is sturdy, one-piece metal, covered in vinyl.
Though it’s good for the iPod’s front or back, iFrame’s design leaves plenty of an iPod or mini’s surfaces exposed, so it’s not one of our top choices if you’re pocketing or bagging your iPod. In truth, the use of elastic really should have been better thought-out; the bottom elastic, for example, is cut to partially expose the Dock Connector, but does so in a way that renders the port unusable unless you fidget around a lot. Our biggest like is each version’s adjustable lanyard, which actually makes wearing even a full-sized iPod on your neck somewhat bearable. The included caribineers aren’t bad either, if you’re not worried about scratching your iPod’s corners on anything while it dangles. We would have preferred detachable belt clips, though these aren’t awful due to their relatively thin profiles.
Flip Cases are iFrames with only two differences: they include a flap which covers all of the iPod’s top and front faces, holding closed with a Velcro strip on the case’s front bottom, and there’s a mesh and Velcro pocket on the inner portion of the flap that’s big enough to hold Apple’s earbuds. A circular metal ring is positioned at the top of the flap above the full-sized iPod’s headphone port. We saw versions in soft black leather and canvas fabric; Chums also sells a version in woven leather.
The only additional issue with the Flip Case’s design is that the headphone ring at top doesn’t accommodate oversized headphone plugs, like the one on Handbanger Audio’s Ear Subs, or the ones on higher-end headphones from Shure, Etymotic, and Ultimate Ears. It appears to have been designed solely for Apple’s thin, straight connectors, and nothing else.
We strongly prefer case designs that cover all of an iPod’s surfaces, and make smarter attempts to deal with the iPod’s headphone and Dock Connector ports - issues that weighed in favor our limited recommendation (B- rating) though we were otherwise considering these to be flat-B level recommendable. We would have been inclined to more highly recommend Flip of the two because of its protectiveness, but the headphone port issue will bug some users - including us - making the two cases equivalent in our minds from a ratings standpoint.
It appears as if Chums has addressed some of these issues with more recent case designs, but we haven’t received them for review and can’t be totally sure from the pictures on their web site. If they have, great. But for now, Flip and iFrame look pretty nice, do a better than decent job of protecting each iPod, and include some good add-ons. They’re mid-priced for cases of this type, and include a couple of extras that comparable cases mightn’t. If you haven’t seen many other iPod cases, you may like them more than we did, but there are better-designed options out there - particularly some of Marware’s designs, as just one example - if you look around.