Review: Belkin Ease-Fit Armband for iPhone 5
iPods -- and even iPhones -- have become essential workout partners for many athletes over the past decade. Numerous accessories have been released to let users easily wear Apple's pocket devices, most notably including armbands. Today, we're looking at three recently released armbands for the iPhone 5, the last of which also supports the fifth-generation iPod touch: Belkin's Ease-Fit Armband ($20), Incase's Sports Armband ($40), and XtremeMac's Sportwrap LED ($80). Despite the considerable price differences, their basic features are the same; Sportwrap LED is the only one with a truly unique feature.
Ease-Fit Armband was the first armband we received for the iPhone 5, and while it doesn’t deviate too much from past designs, it gets the job done at a low price. The lightweight neoprene holder has a dedicated pocket for the taller iPhone, with a clear touch-through window covering the display. It protects almost all of the device’s body, leaving only openings for the headphone port on the bottom and a slit across the top for inserting and removing the device. This armband is black and available with either grey or blue accents; the review unit we received is a little different from the two color schemes shown on Belkin’s web site. One drawback with Belkin’s design is that the screen protector doesn’t sit totally flat against the iPhone’s display; this means that you can’t just tap at the screen, but have to actively press down. It’s not a terrible issue, but does degrade the experience slightly.
Of the bunch, Ease-Fit has the shortest Velcro-equipped band, measuring 16.5” from end to end; Belkin says it fits arms with diameters of 11.4” to 14.6”. Users with bigger biceps have the option of spending $10 more on Ease-Fit Armband Plus ($30, not reviewed), which is designed for arms 12.6” to 15.8”, and also includes a key pouch. So while the price, materials, and build of the basic Ease-Fit Armband are attractive, the strap will limit its utility; users with small to medium-sized arms will have no problem, but it will be tight for muscular male arms.
Of the three armbands here, Belkin’s Ease-Fit Armband is easily the best value but it comes with a caveat; users with large arms won’t be able to use it comfortably or at all. Still, it’s a well-constructed armband, and the most affordable of the bunch. If the stated diameter is enough to fit you, we’d strongly recommend it, given the design and price. Sports Armband is also quite nice, and has a couple of added features that merit a general recommendation—that said, it’s a little too expensive, given how much of the same experience you’d get from Ease-Fit for half the price. We’d suggest Sports Armband for users with larger but not huge arms. Finally, there’s Sportwrap LED. The high price restricts its appeal quite a bit; most users will be fine off with either of the other options, and could use the spare $40 or $60 to buy a new reflective shirt to run in. Yet users who frequently find themselves walking or running at night might find the illuminating feature worthwhile. As such, it earns a limited recommendation.