Review: Case-Mate Naked Case Version 2 for iPhone
It was obvious that Artwizz had something special on its hands when it released the SeeJacket Crystal last year: the German company's hard plastic iPhone case enabled users to fully use the touchscreen, even though that screen was completely covered in hard plastic rather than a thinner layer of peel-off film. Recognizing the appeal of such a design, two companies quickly licensed SeeJacket Crystal and began to sell it under their own names, as discussed in this article, then decided to update the design for subsequent versions. Case-Mate's Naked Case Version 2 ($35) is one of these follow-up products, an iterative update that doesn't merit a completely new review, but is still worthy of a little attention.
From a distance, it’s hard to tell the original and Version 2 designs apart. Both are entirely clear except for black front frames that surround the iPhone’s touchscreen, covering the iPhone’s chrome bezel and transforming the device into something that more closely resembles an oversized iPod touch. The same holes are present, with slight tweaks to improve access at the cost of a little protection, and the same two-piece shell design is employed, with a pressurized tab letting you seal the back compartment closed with the unified sides, bottom, and front of the case. Universal Docks remain compatible, the speakerphone features still work, and everything else on the iPhone continues to be usable, as well. Naked Case’s thickness, however, renders the iPhone incompatible with precision-sized car mounts; thinner plastic designs such as Power Support’s recent Air Jacket for iPhone add less bulk, but also offer less protection.
The only major distinction between the Naked Case and traditional iPod or iPhone plastic shells is the front surface. Dozens of hard plastic cases have been released for the iPhone, but other than the ones based on the Artwizz design, all leave the screen completely exposed or cover it with a user-applied layer of film. Naked Case Version 2 has a very sturdy hard plastic layer on top of the screen and the entire rest of the iPhone’s face save for its Home button, ear speaker, and proximity sensor, which are left open. This layer doesn’t make the screen significantly less sensitive than other protectors we’ve seen, yet requires no effort to apply, and looks very good with the unified case body.
By “significantly,” we mean to say that you still have the ability to type on the keyboard, access all of the iPhone’s icons, and use any of the device’s other features—pinpoint dragging on Maps, zooming in on web pages, and so on. The only difference we noted was that occasionally zooming in Safari or photos required a little extra second finger pressure or surface than with the uncovered screen; typing was comparatively unencumbered.
Users of some of the SeeJacket-alikes found that there was a tiny gap between the front case surface and iPhone screen that could lead to moisture buildup or other issues with the cases; we never had an issue with our original SeeJacket Crystal, and Naked Case Version 2 has no room to give between the screen and case, either. We can’t speak to whether this was part of a bad manufacturing run or due to some other issues, but Naked Case Version 2 definitely feels as well made as the original SeeJacket Crystal, and just a little bit tighter around the edges, in a good way. The only reason for their different ratings is the Naked Case’s higher price.
While there’s nothing truly sexy or original about the Naked Case Version 2 design, and we have seen thinner implementations of iPhone protection, the appeal here is in clarity and simplicity. This is an easy case to buy, attach to your iPhone, and enjoy, with fairly common side, top, and bottom protectivity omissions that are offset by better than average front coverage. With additional protection, even better styling, or a more aggressive price, this could have the perfect iPhone case, but as-is, it’s a very good option for first-generation iPhone owners.