Review: Griffin iVault for nano
Pros: A two-piece case made from durable and protective machined aluminum. Industrial looks, sealed with a super easy magnetic closure. Compatible with both the first and second-generation nanos.
Cons: Shows minor scratches on the aluminum surface. Available in only one color, sliver. Bulks up nano to the size of an iPod mini.
In an update to the iLounge reader-favorite series of machined aluminum iVault cases for iPod shuffle, Griffin has just released iVault for the nano ($25, aka iVault nano). Combining safety and security, iVault is an aluminum brick of a case that’s actually compatible with both first and second-generation nanos.
The new iVault has the same general two-part design as its shuffle predecessor, with substantial-feeling carved metal pieces serving as front and rear shells. But now iVault uses magnets rather than screws to hold the shells together. This is a fantastic and convenient improvement, which we really liked; finally, we can save the screwdrivers for Sunday brunch. But as before, the machined aluminum design requires a compromise: iVault nano mirrors the size and dimensions of the discontinued iPod mini, giving your slim nano a bulkier and heavier feel. As the photos show, it adds millimeters to a nano’s top and bottom, and more to its sides.
Ease of use is generally impressive: you get access to the nano’s screen, Click Wheel, Hold switch, and bottom ports. While iVault does not interfere with most Dock Connector cables and headphone plugs, especially large headphone plugs and cables may have issues, and docking the iVault with most speaker systems will prove difficult. We found it best to remove the nano from the iVault completely before docking with another device, which is now easier than in the prior iVault thanks to the magnets.
As the vault name implies protection, it’s no surprise that this case scores nearly perfectly in that category. Although you should not duplicate our testing methods at home, the iVault can withstand being dropped, tossed and even stepped on. Integrated clear screen and Click Wheel protectors are found in the front half of the case, while a rubber Dock Connector cover, which fits the second-generation nano better than the first, provides additional protection. Although most users will not mind this, it should be noted that the headphone port and Hold switch are left exposed, lowering the Protectiveness score to 9. That aside, those parts of the nano that are covered feel well protected.
Although not completely scratch resistant, the iVault does have a strong outer aluminum shell, while the interior is cushioned with a soft rubber inner lining to keep your nano from scratching against the aluminum body –- a well thought out and executed design. Additionally, each nano fits tightly inside iVault, preventing interior movement and contributing to a score of 9 for Build Quality.
The iVault scores a 3 in Special Features. Although the iVault Case for the first generation shuffle eventually did appear in a variety of colors, at this time, the only color available for the nano is silver. Additionally, the iVault will need to be transported in your pocket or bag, as there is no belt clip or lanyard sold with this case.
iVault is one of the few cases we have reviewed that works well with both the first and second-generation nanos, and it is also one of the most protective metal cases we have reviewed. Whether or not you like its looks will be a personal decision, and beyond the scope of our case reviews, though we’ll note that the wide sides and holes don’t look as good in our eyes as the slimmer shuffle version did two years ago. That aside, Griffin has put a lot of thought into the concept, functional design, and execution of this case, and for the $25 asking price, we would highly recommend it if you like how it looks.