Agent 18 Mini Shock Case
Pros: Uniquely designed, attractive white and clear case for the iPod mini featuring drop resistance and compatibility with less protective Apple accessories.
Cons: Not as scratch-protective as some comparable cases, too small Dock Connector port hole, unnecessary rear Apple logo hole.
Innovation may be regrettably rare in the world of iPod cases, but that hasn’t stopped iLounge from recommending well-built but derivative products. A bit of design originality makes Agent 18’s quality Mini Shock case ($24.95) just that much more of a treat.
Like Agent 18’s Mini Shield, the Mini Shock is a two-piece plastic iPod mini case featuring integrated compatibility with Apple’s mini Arm Band and packed-in Belt Clip accessories. Making the most of the iPod mini’s curved sides, both of the Mini Shock’s pieces wrap around those curves, individually locking into place on the mini’s front and back.
But the novelty is in how they grasp the curves. Agent 18’s front piece, which externally is largely hard white plastic but for gray rubber top and bottom caps and a clear plastic screen protector, grips the mini only with rubberized prongs on its interior top and bottom. Despite the fact that it has rounded white plastic edges that match the mini’s, these sides – unlike Agent 18’s Mini Shield and similar competitors – never touch the mini’s body. Yet the rubber securely holds your mini in the front casing even if no back piece is attached. Agent 18’s integration of clear plastic for screen protection is complemented by a smooth and attractive beveled hole for the mini’s Click Wheel.
The Mini Shock’s back piece, entirely made from hard white plastic, does touch the iPod mini’s sides and back, and functions almost identically to the clear back pieces in the Mini Shield and its competitors: the only difference is a hole that reveals the Apple and iPod logos on the mini’s rear. You can also replace Agent 18’s back shell with Apple’s iPod mini Arm Band or Belt Clip, adding the front piece for protection that Apple’s own accessories lack.
If used together, Agent 18’s front and back pieces snap together to create a resilient hard plastic iPod mini protector, with the rubberized top and bottom reasonably designed to resist drop impacts but still provide access to the iPod’s ports and Hold switch. Ample space is left for the headphone port and easy switch access; a tiny plastic Agent 18 logo appears between them to add token protection. The only bummer is the Dock Connector port hole on the bottom - it’s way too small, right-sized only for Apple’s connectors and no others.
We really liked the look and design of the Mini Shock, though it bears note that like Agent 18’s Click Shield case for 4G iPods (and unlike the company’s Mini Shield for iPod minis), the front of the Mini Shock case fashionably leaves a couple of millimeters of the iPod’s face exposed, directly around the Click Wheel. Additionally, and unlike both of those products, there’s no clear plastic window to protect the Apple and iPod logos on the case’s rear – it’s just a hole. Agent 18’s choice to so aggressively and attractively protect the iPod mini against drop damage but not front and rear scratch damage is a bit confusing, and may limit the case’s appeal to some users.
Overall, the Mini Shock is one of the nicest looking iPod mini cases we’ve seen, and pretty well-designed against shock-related iPod damage. We wouldn’t pick it as a top-of-class scratch protector, but it’s a very good add-on for exercise use with Apple’s mini Arm Band and Belt Clip. Click Wheel (and surrounding) protection and/or a slightly more generous Dock Connector port would have made this case nearly ideal for all users.
Jeremy Horwitz is Editor-in-Chief of iLounge.