Model: SeeJacket Crystal
Price: Approx. $30
Artwizz SeeJacket Crystal for Apple iPhone
A case that transforms an iPhone into an iPod touch? Well, sort of. Developed by Germany's Artwizz, which also recently released the MirrorFilm screen protector we really liked for the iPhone, SeeJacket Crystal (approx. $30) is an unusual but compelling new hard plastic case offering for the iPhone. Blending a clear shell with a black iPhone-covering frame, it effectively removes all traces of chrome from the iPhone's face, leaving it looking a lot like the more austere, phoneless touchscreen iPod, only larger and thicker. A flashier silver-framed version is also available, but not shown here. [Updated April 17, 2008: This case is now also being sold as the Ivyskin Xylo T2 and Case-Mate Naked Case. Additional details are available here.]
Looks aside, what’s really interesting about SeeJacket Crystal’s design is a gamble Artwizz took on the front half of its two-piece plastic shell. Unlike any other case we’ve yet seen for the iPhone, the shell covers not only the iPhone’s body, but also its entire screen, rather than forcing you to attach a clear film screen protector or go without protection at all. Holes are cut out for the iPhone’s Home button, ear speaker, and proximity sensor, as well as its full bottom, and all the necessary parts on its top, left side, and rear, but the front surface is completely flat.
And it’s actually really cool. You can still use the iPhone’s controls—even the keyboard—with only slightly diminished sensitivity. Icon presses work perfectly. Keyboard typing is modestly in need of more decisive presses. The exposed Home button sits less than a millimeter under the case’s front surface and is completely usable; the only slightly hard to press button is iPhone’s top Sleep/Wake toggle, which is recessed a little deeper, but still within a fingertip’s reach.
Similarly, the ports and camera are similarly recessed, easily accessible, and still fully useful with Universal Docks and most other iPod accessories. The case closes with bottom rear and top tabs, holding firmly shut, and reminding us how far plastic case makers have come in the past year or two.
Is SeeJacket Crystal perfect? No. It’s still a step below the protection offered by top competitors, who have also found smart ways to cover iPhone’s side, top, and face controls, as well as offering part-time coverage for its bottom. And its looks, while unique and potentially quite appealing to some people, particularly those who actually prefer the iPod touch to the chromed iPhone, won’t win over all users. The roughly $30 asking price is also a bit steep for a case without pack-ins, such as a video stand or belt clip. But to the extent that Artwizz has come up with a design that manages to do what no other case does, offering flat, one-piece iPhone face coverage, we’re definitely impressed. This is an auspicious first U.S. product release for the German company, and we’re now looking forward to seeing what it comes up with in the future.