Review: Belkin Leather Pouch for iPod mini
Pros: An attractive, well-made pink leather wallet-style case for the iPod mini with a detachable wrist strap, easy use of the iPod mini inside.
Cons: Not the most premium leather solution we’ve seen; limited color selection makes it only a girl’s case, and then only one sort of girl’s case; top and bottom aren’t fully protected (though they’re better than some options we’ve tested).
Having recently had the opportunity to check out the entirety of Belkin’s very large case lineup, we wanted to bring you reviews of all ten of them in a timely fashion. Today, we wrap up our reviews with looks at five different iPod mini and iPod shuffle cases.
Belkin’s Leather Pouch for iPod mini ($29.99) is both a predecessor to and overall conceptual superior to the company’s Deluxe Leather Case for iPod (iLounge rating: B), a wallet-style case that looked sharp but made one bad choice, including a non-detachable belt clip on its rear. Consequently, that case - offered in an attractive, if somewhat masculine black and gray color combination - seemed ready for a purse but thick enough to be mostly appropriate for belt wear. Wisely, the Leather Pouch for iPod mini knows its appeal: similarly shaped like a woman’s wallet, it can actually be used like one.
Made from quality padded leather, the Leather Pouch is available solely in pink with a soft gray fabric interior. It’s a good color combination for the small mini, and quite appropriate for its female target audience, if limiting. (Additional colors wouldn’t hurt.) Like Belkin’s better leather products, it feels good in your hand - the way you’d expect a good leather case to feel - better overall than Kroo’s similar Executive Leather Case (iLounge rating: B).
A sleeve holds your iPod mini inside, covering its right side, front and back, but leaving its left side open to be covered by the wallet’s side-opening flap. Holes are left for the mini’s Hold switch and extended headphone port, while a small strip of leather runs between them for decent protection. Similarly, the mini’s bottom corners are exposed, but a leather piece at the bottom holds the mini in place while providing a small rectangle of access to its Dock Connector port. The rectangle is just big enough for Apple’s cables to connect, but not larger ones. By comparison, Kroo’s Executive Leather Case is a bit more protective at its top and bottom - not a lot - but it’s also a bit more aggravating to insert and remove your iPod mini from that case.
The Leather Pouch has two pockets, both tiny - one is under the iPod mini, the other is on the wallet’s far left side. You can fit a few dollars in either one of them if you fold the bills properly; don’t expect to use them for anything else, and in our view, don’t even think about them as pockets. When you’re ready to close the case, one snap on the end of a small leather arm on the case’s right side does the trick, with a classy Belkin logo engraved in metal on its front. Belkin also includes a silver and gray fabric wrist strap, which attaches at the case’s top left corner. You can pull it off if you don’t like it.
Besides its lack of a belt clip, one of the case’s other smart decisions will only strike you that way if you’ve tried to use an iPod’s controls through the Belkin’s standard clear PVC plastic protectors: here, the iPod mini’s screen and front metal surface are covered, but the Click Wheel isn’t. Consequently, it’s easier to use your iPod mini inside of this case when it’s open, a usability decision that probably would have been wise to preserve in the similarly flapped Deluxe Leather Case, as well.
Only a few iPod mini cases have tried the wallet-as-case approach, and this is one of the better ones we’ve tested. But on the broader leather case spectrum, it’s a very good, but not great option, particularly on slickness and frills. Tunewear’s Prie cases, amongst others, stand out a bit more on components and design, though Belkin’s Leather Pouch has the advantages of huge distribution and if you shop around, a more attractive price. If you’re looking for an affordable gift to buy quickly in a local store for a female iPod mini owner, this would be one of our very top picks.