Review: CM4 Slite Card Case for iPhone 5c
iPhone wallet cases have become increasingly common over the past two years, with two types of designs dominating the market — play through cases that nestle several cards behind the iPhone, and folio-style flip-open cases with left-side card holders and right-side iPhone holders. Originally released for the iPhone 4/4S, CM4's prior Q Card Case was a somewhat shaky play through design merging an ill-fitting rubber frame with a nice-looking but tight rear faux leather compartment; a very similar iPhone 5 version considerably improved the implementation. Now CM4 has returned with the Slite Card Case for iPhone 5c ($30), which offers all the same functionality in a less expensive and less expensive-looking design.
Users of the prior case will notice immediately that CM4 has transitioned from a dual-material design to something simpler for Slite: the leather is gone, now replaced by an entirely soft TPU-like plastic design available in four different flat colors. Apart from the hole surrounding the rear camera, which is always black for flash absorption reasons, the rest of each case is black, gray, a green-hinted blue, or a pinkish purple, none matching the stock colors of the iPhone 5c. While this doesn’t matter too much, and the jet black iPhone 5c faces look pretty good with the black version of Slite, some users might prefer better alternate color options given the iPhone 5c’s signature feature.
CM4 has removed most of the softness we saw in the Q Card designs in favor of angular lines, though the case’s corners and integrated button protectors have Apple-style curves. It’s not the most beautiful iPhone case design we’ve seen, but it’s functional. Button responsiveness is somewhat mixed: the side volume controls click as we’d expect, but the top Sleep/Wake Button provides no sense of tactility despite the fact that it works. It’s just a little too stiff.
The key feature is the redesigned rear wallet pocket, which can hold up to three cards at a time. We had no problem getting three credit and ID cards into the pocket, which keeps them in a position that doesn’t interfere with the iPhone’s functionality at all. Getting the cards out is as easy as a small finger push in an angular side divot; they all come out at once, but the case applies enough internal pressure that even one or two cards don’t feel loose inside, or likely to fall out accidentally. Capacity for three cards is about par for the course with cases like this, and although Slite is a little thicker than some of the iPhone 5/5s wallet cases we’ve seen, it’s not objectionably large or unwieldy.
One potentially appealing asset of the Slite design is the bottom. Unlike the vast majority of play though iPhone 5 cases we’ve seen, CM4 has left it largely open, with a mostly pill-shaped hole that runs from the headphone port to the edge of the bottom speaker. While we typically prefer more protection for the bottoms of Apple’s devices, this enables Slite to be compatible with certain Lightning accessories — unfortunately not any flush-mounted Lightning plugs on speaker docks, but certain battery packs and adapters with slightly elevated plugs will work.
Slite is a classically “good” iPhone 5c case: reasonably but not comprehensively protective, respectably rather than beautifully designed, and interestingly functional in a way that will appeal to some users. The $30 price point is certainly appealing — and a smart move for a more value-conscious version of the iPhone — but on the other hand, Slite is effectively a more expensive version of Incipio’s NGP with a card pocket. Little tweaks could make it comparably or more appealing, but as-is, it’s worthy of our general recommendation.