Review: Core Cases Aluminum Case for iPod nano
Pros: An attractive two-piece aluminum iPod nano case available in multiple colors, with integrated clear screen protection and a great detachable belt clip that requires no thickness-adding nub when removed. Generally good protection for nano’s body, and good-looking.
Cons: Exposes nano’s Click Wheel, entire bottom, and Hold switch at all times.
We were impressed when Core Cases released its $15 Aluminum Case for iPod shuffle earlier this year, adding an affordable alternative to the variety of hard shuffle cases already available. Now the company has generally repeated its magic with a similar Aluminum Case for the iPod nano ($20), which duplicates its predecessor’s two-piece design and includes a feature we previously loved - a brilliant little detachable belt clip.
Each of the cases, currently available in four colors (black, red, silver, and green, with blue and iLounge orange planned), includes three pieces: a front shell, a rear shell, and that belt clip. As with the shuffle version, the shell is padded with a thin layer of black foam, precluding any internal iPod scratches and holding the nano in place even when the case has been opened. You pop your nano into the back half, slide it inside the front half, and attach the clip if you want it. This sliding mechanism eliminates the need for (and extra space required by) a hinge, which makes the case impressively narrower than others we’ve seen. The metal shell isn’t the beefiest aluminum - it’s thin - but it’s plenty adequate to add solid strength to the otherwise delicate nano. Its sides and back are fully covered inside, top and front mostly.
Holes are left for three things: the nano’s Click Wheel, bottom ports, and most regrettably, its Hold switch, which has a fairly significant metal carve-out on the case’s top. There are also two tiny and insignificant holes for an included lanyard necklace, which we didn’t receive; however, the holes are central, so the nano won’t hang on its edge. Thankfully, Core Cases has included an integrated clear screen protector, which shields the nano’s most sensitive component, and doesn’t interfere with your use of the nano at all.
Then there’s the belt clip. It’s a simple, small, spring-loaded alligator clip that integrates into the back shell by sliding into two thin holes, using no nub and thereby adding zero thickness when detached. Attached, it holds on to your pants without a problem, and can be used with the encased nano upside down or rightside up.
So we love the belt clip, love the $20 price tag, and like the fact that Core Cases is offering a good metal alternative in multiple colors - though it’s not yet as impressively arrayed as the shuffle version, the choices are still better (by a small factor) than any other alternative we’ve seen. What didn’t we like? We are still very ambivalent on the value of a hard case that doesn’t fully protect the iPod inside when it’s not in use. There could have been ways with a slide-open case to avoid exposing the Hold Switch and Dock Connector port, at least on a part-time basis, and having these open at all times falls short of the hard protection we’d prefer. The same is true of the Click Wheel; there are ways to include film or Click Wheel guards that achieve protection easily.
Overall, the Aluminum Case for iPod nano is a nice metal design at a great price, but you’ll have to compromise a bit on protectivity unless you add an Invisible Shield or other body protector. By nano standards, it’s a solidly recommendable offering, and one worth considering on looks and value.